Zara’s Last Day: Loss of Closure and the GCSE Cancellation

GCSE Cancellation: An empty exam hall

As large numbers of schools across the UK are to close for an undetermined amount of time, Beyond takes a look at the impact that school closures, GCSE cancellation and sudden upheaval has had on one Year 11 student: Zara shares her last day at school with us.

“Exams will not take place as planned in May and June”
My jaw dropped and I looked straight at my Y13 brother with my mouth wide open.
The group chat exploded, everyone talking over each other:
“Wait, what?”
“What’s happening?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Am I meant to carry on revising?”

No one could actually get their heads around it, our whole school careers, 13 years of our lives, had been centered around the fact that we would do these exams. And that’s it? Just one sentence, and it’s all over?

Over all of the other emotions, most of us were just angry. All of us have worked so hard, revised so hard, for so long- and it’s not happening?

Throughout the evening and the next day, I was in a constant state of shaking- what were we even doing in school anymore? All of the Y11s had brought in their t-shirts to get signed just to make sure that everyone could sign them by the next day. 

In lessons, we just sat there, signing t-shirts and doing nothing. Teachers were breaking down, crying in our lessons, telling us how proud they were- because we have all worked so hard.

Ten minutes before the end of our penultimate day, a teacher came in to say that they were too short-staffed to keep the Y11s in school. It was our last day? And we didn’t even know? The end of the day was a mess of tears and hugs, everyone too baffled and confused to really understand what was going on.

For some of us, we were moving away from our school forever, to move somewhere else for sixth form, and that was our last day?

We had no lasts. We didn’t have a special assembly about what a great year group we were, we didn’t have our last lessons with so many teachers and we didn’t have our final exams. That means no closure.

We don’t have the pride of having worked so hard and getting well-deserved grades from it, we don’t get to finish our courses, we don’t get to boost our grades in subjects we have been trying to work on. Even if we get good grades at the end of this, it won’t be recognised as an achievement. We will be that year group that didn’t have to do exams. Award by GCSE cancellation. Numbers on a piece of paper will be nothing to us, did we really earn them?

I feel like every hour I forget about what is happening, and when I remember again I don’t quite understand it. Now we have 6 months holiday to process it with no work to do, we don’t have the pleasure of getting our first jobs in the long holiday after completing exams, we’ll get bored of binge-watching and I still feel like I need to be doing work. But what work? There are no GCSEs…

If you have stories relating to school closures and GCSE cancellation, Beyond would happily share them on our blog – get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.

Photo © David Hawgood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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