Take The Stress out of Exams, Ian Rowe

I read an article about exam preparation in the latest issue of Teach Secondary written by mindfulness trainer and registered hypnotherapist Jo Wallis. This seemed really timely and pretty pertinent given the recent news that the Computer Science GCSE – which until now included 20% coursework – will be 100% exam based following leaking of the non-exam assessment to online forums and collaborative programming sites.


Whilst there is absolutely no suggestion that malpractice is the reason for the increasing move towards more exam based GCSE assessments in a whole host of other subjects, the more linear approach to study is still pretty new territory for many students and certainly requires us to prepare our students in a different way.

Last year, teaching bodies expressed their concerns over increasing reports of heightened anxiety and stress amongst the first real cohort of students to face the challenges of the new exam structure and marking schemes. Jo Wallis is one of an increasing number of hypnotherapists working with young children up and down the country suffering increased stress and heightened anxiety as a result of exam pressures.

In Jo’s article, she makes the very valid point that if we are to prepare GCSE students for the challenges of the new examinations and protect their health and well-being, then now is the time we need to start working with them – not at Easter, which is often the case.

She urges education professionals to treat mental preparation with the same importance as academic preparation and begin focusing on their students’ mental wellbeing as early as possible into examination years.

She believes that ascertaining learning styles is key to mentally preparing young students and preventing unnecessary anxiety from arising and is a real advocate of variety; be it changing the room in which you revise or the techniques you use to digest information.

I was delighted to see that Jo talks about the role that GCSEPod can play in helping students to prepare for their exams.  She said:

“I am increasingly recommending GCSEPod to the schools, parents and students that I work with; not only does the audio visual content meet the needs of all kinds of preferred learning styles but the online format, accessible on any desk top or mobile device, appeals to today’s digital natives and naturally encourages students to vary how, when and where they study.

“I’ve worked with a number of anxious, under-achieving students who within weeks of using GCSEPod have demonstrated real progress both academically and mentally.”

“Last summer, I had a dyslexic student of mine text me her results – two A*s for English language and English literature, and an A for History – she is a highly aural learner and credited GCSEPod for these incredible results.”

We love to hear such stories, be them from subscribing schools or individual subscribers detailing how GCSEPod is being used to aid GCSE revision.  While GCSEPod is increasingly used all year round as a teaching and classroom resource as well as an independent study and revision tool, there is without a doubt overwhelming evidence to suggest a direct correlation between GCSEPod usage and Progress and Attainment 8.

It’s not only professionals such as Jo who can see the benefits that GCSEPod provides but we have evidence from schools up and down the country to demonstrate the impact of our GCSE revision podcasts.

I remember taking my own ‘O’ Levels 30+ years ago and there was nowhere near the pressure then as there is now. The expectations on today’s GCSE students, including my 15-year-old son, who will be in the first cohort to sit these exams, is immense. Pressure in schools to deliver or risk a “Requires Improvement” grading or worse, is in some cases being laid on the shoulders of students. This, combined with the tougher curriculum and new style examinations introduced for so many subjects consecutively, means that this particular cohort is facing a bigger GCSE challenge than any others before them. Helping them to cope with the stress and be prepared is key.

If you want to find out more about the role GCSEPod can play in helping students and indeed teachers, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0191 338 7830 or email info@gcsepod.com

To find out more about the work that Jo does and the help and support she can offer – either face to face of online – visit her website on www.successtechniques.co.uk




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“100% of our year 11 students achieved at least 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C.

82% achieved at least 5 GCSEs including Maths, English and/or Welsh at grades A*-C. An impressive 27% of grades were at A* or A compared to the national average of 19.4%.

We strongly believe that GCSEPod has played an important role in improving the outcomes for some of our pupils. Indeed, some of our top users exceeded their target grades in many areas and have now returned to the sixth form to continue their studies at A level.”

Diane Evans - Assistant Head Teacher,
Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteif

There is a very clear correlation between the subjects with the most pronounced raises in attainment (English Literature, Chemistry, Biology and Physics) and those that had the highest GCSEPod usage.

In addition, the student with the highest GCSEPod usage was also our highest achiever.

Because there has so clearly been an impact on the departments that utilised GCSEPod effectively, we will be looking to increase the use of GCSEPod across the school in coming years.”

Andrew Ost - Deputy Head,
Fort Pitt Grammar School

“We’ve used GCSEPod for a year and the results speak for themselves!

Not only did we see a rise in headline measures across the board with our highest user of GCSEPod gaining 7A* – but the students and their parents love it!

It’s fun, user friendly, and easy to use in a variety of ways – on a mobile device, in school, at the heart of our mentoring and intervention strategies, for flipping learning, and to deliver positive engagement that parents can see. Plus we’ve only just scratched the surface!”

Dominic Howkins - Vice Principal,
Ormiston Sudbury Academy


Don’t just take our word for it. GCSEPod has gained huge recognition since our initial launch in 2010 and we continue to pick up industry awards along the way. We’re constantly listening to the schools that use GCSEPod and learning how we can best support teachers and students in times of change. Contact us to tell us your goals for the next year and discuss how we can be a part of your school improvement strategy.

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