The GCSE juggling act

I thought it was weird at first that my son didn’t get study leave for his GCSEs. We always had it back in the day, but apparently it’s the norm these days for kids at comprehensives to keep attending school for revision sessions even when the GCSEs are underway.

As it happens, he did actually finish school for study leave at half-term, with two weeks of exams done and two weeks still to go. And now I realise I’m glad that he had those first two weeks actually attending school!

Because life has become a rather stressful GCSE juggling act. While he takes his GCSEs and his revision in his stride, and assures me every day that his exams have gone well, I am a ball of stress. Not about the exams or the results. Just about the logistics.

My son has always got the bus to school, which has worked out well for the family over the last five years. I still have to take the other kids to two separate schools, but it’s do-able. Three kids to three different schools would not have been do-able. But his school bus pass is rather annoying. It’s one big lump sum to cover the whole year. You can’t pick and choose when you get the bus and pay for individual journeys. You either pay for the year or you don’t use the bus.

We paid for the year.

They are kind enough to refund the last bit of the year for kids doing GCSEs or A Levels, but ‘the last bit of the year’ means the full half-term, so for these two weeks while he is still doing GCSEs, he needs lifts to and from school.

Car, School run, The GCSE juggling act

So either I’m taking both boys to school or I’m begging friends or family to take one of them. I don’t know how they are going to get to school next week. Nobody has offered to take one or other of them every day and I don’t like to repeatedly ask the same people for help. If I take both of them, one of them arrives at school very early. We all, including my daughter, have to get out much earlier, which also means getting them up earlier – and more moaning about being tired.

Then if my son only has a morning exam, he needs picking up again at 10.30, which means I’ve barely got home and started work before I have to go back again.

I have a very set work routine which is basically to work when the kids are at school. Once they’re home, we’re always rushing off somewhere, so those few hours when I’m at home on my own are pretty sacred. Having to go back out only an hour after starting work isn’t ideal.

Added to that, my son doesn’t have a computer of his own, so revises on the desktop computer I use for most of my work – certainly any work involving Windows or a printer.  So we have to take it in turns to use it. Clearly, I’m never going to stop him revising because it’s so important to him and I’m very pleased to see him doing it. But I’m watching the minutes tick away as my working day erodes away to nothing.

It’s just over a week until the end of the GCSEs. My son is pretty chilled about them, but I can’t wait for them to be over and for life to get back to something approaching normality. Albeit normality with a rather large 15 year old boy hanging around the house all day.

I’m definitely going to make sure he has his own laptop before he does his A Levels!

 

After the Playground

Author: Sarah Mummy

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27 Comments

  1. The logistics of your school runs always makes my head hurt! Ha! Not long now and it will all be done and dusted. But I’m guessing September will bring you all new logistical challenges?!

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    • Just when I think I can cope with it, something comes along to mess it up! Theoretically September should be easier as both my eldest and my daughter should be going to the same school on the bus, but we’ll count our chickens when they hatch!

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  2. Ooh I cannot imagine how you’re coping with the stress of that! I would also be a coiled up ball of stress. I am experiencing a little of this at the moment, having my eldest at home and it’s hard to get anything done at all, let alone work! I’ve taken to doing a bit on Saturdays sometimes but I do resent it. Hopefully you’ll last until the end of term. Not long now (she says hopefully!).

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    • Thanks very much! Only another week of exams, then there’s no way he’ll be allowed on my computer in the daytime! I can’t imagine it’s easy having your daughter at home all the time. I didn’t think having my son around would have as much of an impact as it has.

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  3. Eek Sarah it sounds like a nightmare for you. I think it’s definitely more normal for the kids to stay in school now once they start their exams. Though yes, in a few weeks you will have him home with you, and no doubt wanting to be run here, there and everywhere x

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    • I really had no idea that kids stayed in school once their GCSEs had started! He will no doubt be wanting lots of lifts, although as he sleeps so late I will generally have got most of my work for the day done before he surfaces! x

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  4. Do you want a desktop for him, would that help? I have one I haven’t been using for a while, it needs some windows updates but once that’s done it will be great. It’s a huge, touch screen one and he’d be welcome to borrow it indefinitely. Message me if it’s of any help, it’s not far for you to come and collect it. I do hope the next couple of weeks pass quickly for you and the stress soon subsides!
    Nat.x

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    • That’s so kind of you to offer, I really appreciate it! As he’s only got a week left, I think we will soldier on as we are, but I may take you up on the offer if he keeps ‘needing’ the computer once his exams are finished. We do really need to get him a laptop! x

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  5. Get that lap top! And yes, that is an incredible juggling act. It does seem odd that kids can’t revise at home but, in truth, it kinda makes sense for them to attend school to revise.

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    • I guess some kids just don’t bother revising at home without supervision. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well my son has done with his revision. My husband has been promising him a reconditioned laptop for so long! We definitely need it before 6th form!

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  6. Eek I hadn’t realised kids now do their revision on the PC. More reason to get a very shiny new MAc for yourself but as it’s only a week I hope it goes well and you get some normality back quickly!!

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    • Thanks very much! I just hope he doesn’t ‘need’ the computer once his exams are finished. I really need to sort my Macbook out with Word and link it up to my printer, then I wouldn’t really need to use the desktop at all.

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  7. Secondary school logistics is already concerning me and we’re years away yet. I lived in the village so just walked (or got the school bus for my piano lesson on that day), then after school clubs either my mum would pick up or we’d walk. But with N, if he wants to do sports or music or other after school things, he’ll be 7 miles from home, and no bus going out in our direction. He’d have to hang around until I could get out from work.

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    • Eek! That does sound like a nightmare! My daughter is going to be eight or nine miles away (and hopefully my eldest at the same school), so we will be in the same position for after school activities. I think the school deliberately schedules most of its extracurricular stuff at lunchtime though, so avoid difficulties with getting home.

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  8. Your school run logistics always seem to be quite tight without adding in an extra child to take. Still not long now and hopefully next year will be easier.

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    • Thanks very much! It doesn’t take much to make it all too difficult to cope with! Next year should be easier with my daughter getting the bus and hopefully my eldest at the same school as her.

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  9. I think I’m more stressed by my daughter’s GCSEs than she is. She has to be in at 8 as the school insist they go in for an exam breakfast. This means that my son also has to be in at 8 (which he hates as his friends don’t arrive until 8:30ish), because I start work at 8:30 at my youngest daughter’s school. We then have to battle back through traffic to get in on time. I’m also getting at least 5 text reminders daily about GCSEs. I can’t wait for them to be over!

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    • Aaagh! That sounds like torture! Even worse than mine! My son only has to be in by 8.45, so there is a little bit of flexibility as he doesn’t mind getting in at 8.15. My other son starts school in the opposite direction at 8.40, then I somehow have to fit walking my daughter to school in time for 8.50!

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  10. Mine still get study leave…..they have the option of going in for study sessions. When I’m working they have to get a bus…it’s not easy but they are ok with it. Last summer when my daughter had her GCSEs she would take the bus if she had an exam and would study at school. I found it tricky when she had finished….the summer was sooo long! In the end, she got a job and that worked well. I hope your son is doing ok. good luck. #TweensTeensBeyond.

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    • Thanks very much! He’s doing really well. It sounds like you had a real juggling act too. I’m now hoping my son gets a job to keep himself out of mischief for the summer!

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  11. i never understood study leave, my eldest was banned from having it when he sat his GCSE’s as he hadn’t been working hard enough and the next child actually chose to go into school to study every day regardless of whether he had an exam or not. Not long now and I think a family laptop/computer maybe a good investment for the next lot of exams

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    • In my day, everyone just routinely had study leave, finishing school a few days before the exams started. Now it seems that most comprehensives keep kids going to school for revision sessions for at least some of the exam period. Having endured two weeks of study leave, I’m glad he didn’t have it for the whole time!
      We will definitely be investing in a laptop soon!

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  12. Oh Sarah I hate study leave. This brought back memories of my eldest and his GCSE’s and all those runs back and forth, even picking up some of his mates on route too. This year it is A’levels and he has been on study leave since half term. His exams are more spaced out than the GCSE timetable and are generally 2-3 hours long but still I hate that my days are dominated by his schedule and if he is at home for the day studying he is constantly wanting food or a chat about his exams. I was relieved yesterday when he said he was going into school to study in the library for a day. I do love having him around but I got so much done and we didn’t argue about what was for lunch! Good luck. Hope he does well. #TweensTeensBeyond

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    • Thanks very much! I can so relate to this. The whole day seems to revolve around lunch, which he has to make very noisily and messily at 11am! This is followed by endless snacks…

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  13. Yes study leave is not what it once was! My daughter has been off for just a couple of weeks. Thankfully no logistic problems for me because the school is in walking distance but I ma getting asked quite a lot of questions about science when I should be working! Thanks so much for sharing at #TweensTeensBeyond

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    • They definitely have a way of interrupting work! It’s good that your school is within walking distance. My son’s school is only a few miles away, but going to pick him up is still half an hour out of my working day.

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  14. Gosh that is stressful, I do feel for you with all the two-ing and fro-ing. That certainly makes life difficult. Oh yes, another laptop needed for sure. Roll on the end of exams and thanks for linking with #tweensteensbeyond

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