COVID-19 ended my time at school with a premature abruptness – as I think it did for all year 13 leavers.
However, the early termination to my last year in secondary education has seemingly stung more than it has for some others. It is fair to say that I have quite a strong attachment to my school, given that I have lived there for the past seven years (as a boarder) and have several family members who are alumni. Additionally, I was the Head-Boy and so had been organising initiatives which I now do not have the opportunity to execute and writing a final speech which will never be heard. The rushed exit from school was, therefore, very difficult.
The uncertainty made it even tougher. With the timeline of the pandemic being disputable and ultimately unknown, I felt unable to make any real conclusion. Returning to school for a delayed summer term still appeared possible and, most importantly, the uncertainty around exams meant that I could not prepare plans for my lockdown. I did not know whether I needed to plan a schedule for revision, or for Netflix. For over two weeks at home, there was no source of security which I could objectively trust. My A-Levels (History, Spanish and Economics) seemed to be in question.
Although, using Microsoft teams – the unofficial classroom for every student in the country, if not the whole developed world – teachers continued to set work and so I have spent the previous week writing essays and translating passages online. It is not easy to work when it feels that anything submitted post school closure may be discredited, and respectfully, Covid19 has somewhat limited the strength of teachers’ instructions. Students and teachers alike have equal amounts of (insufficient) information, having read the same incomplete statement for the Department of Education. This uncertainty has, undoubtedly for me, been the greatest challenge.
Now, the day after a publication from the government and Ofqual was released, there is more clarification. Grades will be given in the summer as usual, calculated from teachers’ judgement, a rank order and evidence. No exams yet exam certificates indistinguishable from any other year.
This has been, to an extent, a relief. My mock results (which should act as primary evidence) were AAA and meet my offer to read Politics at UCL – and this should be supported by my attainment in GCSEs and other assessments. So, I do not feel too stressed; I am lucky that I revised for the mocks.
But I do feel relatively jobless. What do I do now?
At home, in lockdown with three brothers whilst my mum remains in work (being an NHS midwife), I am looking for distractions. In fact, I have applied for countless jobs and have occupied myself with ordering leavers’ hoodies and yearbooks. It seems that we now have to wait till summer for results and so in the meantime, I will make progress with Netflix.
Andre Da Silva-Jenkins