The pressure on school pupils is higher than ever, with many facing the prospect of leaving school without sitting an exam in over 12 months.

Face to face teaching has returned in Wales this week for Years 11 and 13 as they prepare to finish their GCSEs and A-Levels respectively, with all pupils expected to return to schools from the 12th of April.

Studying at home has been a challenge for JJ.

JJ Shields, 18, is an A-Level pupil at Bro Myrddin Welsh Comprehensive school in Carmarthen who will be leaving school this summer.

She said “Before the pandemic I enjoyed school, I’ve always enjoyed learning” before adding she has struggled learning from home.

“I’ve found it harder to stay motivated and work towards achieving my goals as well as completing the work set by teachers.”

Last winter, the Welsh Government made the decision to scrap GCSE, AS and A-Level exams for Summer 2021 meaning that pupils will instead be graded on Classroom based assessments.

“I’m one of those people that prefer exams to coursework, so the idea that every piece of work I put in counts towards my grade is a horrible thought in my mind.

“On the flip side, I know many of my friends and other students love the fact exams are gone so it depends on your point of view.”

“I don’t know what i’m going to do”
JJ Shields – A-Level pupil

JJ’s sister, Fiona Shields is studying a Level 3 Diploma in Art and Design at Coleg Sir Gar.

She said “The college has been really good because into the first few weeks of lockdown they had us come in to pick up equipment that we could get through lockdown with.

“I’ve had assessments recently and despite them being stressful I’ve had amazing support from the teachers… and in a way it’s probably more help than what I would have got in college because I’m working remotely they’re happier to quickly arrange online meetings.”

Various organisations from Young Minds to Mentalhealth.org have published advice for parents on how to best support children during the pandemic.

As for JJ’s next step when she finishes school in June, she stressed “I’m a little lost now because all my original plans have been scrapped so I don’t know what I’m going to do but it should be fun finding out.”

WHEN ARE SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS ALLOWED BACK IN WELSH SCHOOLS?

  • Years 7, 8 & 9 can attend for “check in” purposes before Easter.
  • Years 11 & 13 started back this week.
  • All secondary school pupils return full-time from April the 12th.