Key stage 3
It is not unusual for some students to actually coast through KS3. It is acknowledged that those in the KS3 phases do not fully understand assessment processes in primary years and the challenge that pupils have gone through for SATs.
Therefore secondary schools are not always building on this prior knowledge. There is often an emphasis on the pastoral needs of students, helping them settle in is prioritised above challenging them appropriately academically.
Some students will begin to slide rather than develop. Unfortunately KS3 has frequently become the poor relation of key stage 4. KS3 students are often be taught by less experienced staff, sometimes supply or job share teachers with the more experienced teachers put in to KS4 and 5 classes.
Key stage 4
This is the key stage where even students begin to worry about their performance! Suddenly it all becomes very real with college places dependant on GCSE grades in the core curriculum subjects. Students dread the thought of potentially having to spend more time on a disliked subject at college to retake a GCSE. Target grades are set yet classroom assessment grades can seem very far from these outcomes. At this stage, students can become incredibly frustrated and disillusioned with their perceived sense of failure. This leads some to be unable to engage with class work or to begin their own revision. In fact, it makes some students switch off entirely with weeks to go before the terminal exams when the reality of what needs to be still done sets in.
Often students feel very alone and stressed: they may not want to admit to anyone that they are struggling to understand in class for fear of being told that they can’t have been concentrating or putting in enough effort; reading set texts and drawing out salient points on the language of Shakespeare or metaphors in challenging poetry appears ridiculous for a budding motor mechanic; solving quadratic equations seems pointless for a student wanting to become a hair dresser and in addition they have numerous other pressures, not just academic, on them at this difficult age. We have seen this time and time again in students coming to Aspire Tuition.