Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/914/23460
Pressure, lies and head games: being a school student in Tory Britain
Lily Douglas, college student
I'm just going to say it... it is hard being a school student, especially under the Tories. There is a lot of pressure on you to be perfect, to have everything figured out.
In year 9 (when you are 13 or 14) you are expected to choose what kind of path you're going to lead in the future when you make your GCSE options. Then you have to drop everything to study and cram in as much as humanly possible and more, until it becomes a memory test not a knowledge exam. It's not about understanding or developing your talents.
You are not allowed to be a child. Since I can remember I have always had the threat of the next exam - and what it means for my future - plaguing me. 'If you don't do well at exams then you won't get a job, you'll be on zero-hour contracts, you won't be able to leave home.'
And then they change the goalposts! I was never really that good at exams. I always knew I had to put all my effort into my GCSE coursework because that's where I was going to get my grades and I did. Walking into the exam, I knew solidly that I'd got all As in my coursework, so no matter how much I failed in the exam, I should be ok.
Or so I thought. Between me completing (and being given an expected grade for) my coursework and the exam and official grading, the exam board decided to play games with our heads. They brought the grade boundaries up to the extent that even if you had improved in your mark, you got a worse grade than before. The high achievers were no longer high achievers.
As a student, a teenager, you are stereotyped by the media as a lazy, loud-mouthed thug who doesn't care and is too immature to make choices for yourself.
But actually we're working very hard and are very concerned about our futures. We have to be. Which is why I think we should have votes at 16. We are generally ignored by politicians or just plain lied to - like when the Liberal Democrats promised to cut university fees and then trebled them instead.
We want to be a full part of holding politicians to account.
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In The Socialist 31 August 2016:
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