Ballyclare High School has devised an innovative method of preparing students for a successful future - a mock GCSE results day.
The approach is designed to persuade pupils who may have borderline results into the reality of the work that they need to undertake to secure their desired grades and to further encourage those performing on target.
Rather than receiving their mock exam results from individual subject teachers during normal timetabled classes, pupils queued to collect grades from the sports hall, replicating the experience which they will have when their GCSE results are issued in August.
One of the 189 students receiving their results on the day was Erin Christie, from Ballyclare.
“I am pleased with my results, but I know that I still have work to do. Today has helped to focus me on what extra work I need to do to receive the marks I want in August,” she said.
Headmaster of Ballyclare High School, David Knox said: “The event, which we believe to be the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, involved the whole school and it underlines the academic and pastoral encouragement and support which is offered to every pupil in the school.
“Year 12 pupils gathered to collect the results of their recent mock GCSE examinations and the formal nature of this process, we hope, will have a positive impact on pupils’ level of application and motivation for the remainder of their GCSE courses.
“The stress of exams is very real for pupils and we understand this. Often the fear of the unknown can affect a pupil’s performance and we believe that this method of disseminating results will help pupils better understand the importance of these exams for their future, focusing them appropriately to achieve their best possible grades.”
After pupils received their results, they took part in interviews with members of the teaching staff to set them on the path to achieving their maximum potential.
“Irrespective of their current level of attainment, post-interview, pupils returned to class with a clear indication of what they need to do to secure the grades to which they aspire at GCSE level,” Mr Knox added.
“We trialled a similar event in 2013 and there was a significant improvement in grades with 31 percent attaining A*/A in their mocks and 47 percent going on to achieve this in their actual exams.
“Some 100 percent of pupils in 2013 attained A*-E in their GCSE exams with 97 percent achieving A*-C, which was a four per cent improvement on the mock results where 93 per cent had achieved these grades.
“We saw the benefit that this had for pupils so decided to roll the event out on a larger scale this year to help prepare pupils ‘mentally’. Students’ feedback from 2013 was that the mock results day really concentrated their efforts for their real exams.”
Ballyclare High, which has 1,210 pupils and a teaching staff of 85, is a school in which there has been a high level of investment in resources and training, “creating a culture in which learning and communication are enriched and expectations of achievement are raised.”