Ten ways teachers can celebrate student success on results day

11th August 2016 at 12:11
Exam results celebration
Results day has almost arrived and one department head explains his top 10 ways for teachers to mark the moment that the past year has been building up to

The next two Thursday mornings are going to affect the life chances and self-esteem of thousands. Was all the endless, friendless revision slog worth it? Or was it all for nothing? They’re quite important days for the students, too.

We, as teachers, are effectively graded on these days, so it seems only fair that we, too, should celebrate the successes. The question is: how? Our customary way has been…

… the classic teacher shrug The self-effacing “it’s what we do” shrug has tended to be our default “celebration”. Commendably professional though this is, does it really do justice to all that we now have to go through in the name of pass rates?  “It’s what we bloody do” probably included taking another mock exam to mark during a hen or stag weekend, effectively culling half our friends and perhaps losing a once-passionate lover somewhere in the middle of our in-tray. What was it all for if we simply shrug?

Instead, how about starting results day with… 

  1. ...kidnapping the press photographer With the help of colleagues, lead the visiting local press photographer away to a dark corner and firmly advise them that there’s no longer going to be the usual clichéd front-page shot of cute young students waving their results and jumping for joy. Instead, the image this time will be of an (arguably hotter) group of beaming teachers, arms linked and with our bodies variously off the ground. It’s not about us? Yes it is. Partly.
  2. The other “Student Clearing” In Burgos, Spain, they dress up as the devil each year and celebrate the town’s newborn by arranging the babies in clusters on the ground and then leaping across them while holding whips. This rite of passage seems particularly suited and adaptable to exam results day. Teachers wearing the mask of some diabolical figure from the world of education – have a think – mark their recumbent students’ successful passage by jumping over them. This may look a bit weird, yes, but it is therefore totally in keeping with the league table-driven eccentricity of exam world today. As is…
  3. …the Senior Leadership Carrying Race Finland has been the inspiration for many of our government’s educational initiatives. That pioneering country also leads the world when it comes to “wife-carrying races”. In deference to our Scandinavian pathfinders, teachers can celebrate exam results by hoisting any available members of the senior leadership team on to their shoulders and racing them around the school site. Has a certain symbolism, too.
  4. Tug of war Here, the English Baccalaureate GCSE  teachers take on the rest of the staff in a true test of rigour and robustness. Baffled young onlookers will have no idea why some staff take up one end of the rope and why some take up the other. “Good question. Ask the new secretary of state”, we tell them.
  5. The goal celebration Our most important annual appraisal goal will be based on these results. We plainly need to have a “goal” celebration ready. This might involve simply sliding across the school hall on our stomachs and roaring “Get in!”, or perhaps a more complex Maori haka routine with our group’s magnificent teaching assistant.
  6. The slow lap of honour If the “goal” celebration feels just a little bit too OTT then perhaps settle for circling around the school hall in the manner of an Olympic champion, waving and blowing kisses at the clusters of young students  there – some of whom may have begun to wonder where the press photographer has gone. Hadn’t he promised to take their picture?
  7. The Patio Celebration Not everyone heads to school on results day. Many will be abroad, on a patio recliner, in the shade of the morning sun. At most, the teacher here briefly goes online to find out their group’s results. If all has gone well they crack open the first small beer of the day and continue with their book. If things have gone less well, they do exactly the same. In many ways, this is the best place to be
  8. Progress 8 – the pub crawl To mark the latest change to GCSE league tables, teachers progress to eight local pubs. Each place is given a score and then a mean average is worked out  – always remembering, though, that some pubs matter more than others.
  9. The September Shriek Some teachers have absolutely nothing to do with school in August. They chance upon their group’s results when sifting through the pile of data given to them on the first-day Inset in September. Listen out, during the head’s opening address, to the involuntary outbursts of gleeful shock from some of these colleagues as they work down their list of names and grades. Perhaps not the best time to be punching the air, but let’s not deny them their moment. 

    Stephen Petty is head of humanities at Lord Williams’s School in Thame, Oxfordshire

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