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Mr Burnie’s Blog
a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
“she’s obviously under a lot of stress”
synonyms: strain, pressure, tension, nervous tension, worry, anxiety, nervousness
There will be times over the coming months that all of our students in the Senior School can relate to the above definition. Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and the Lower Sixth will be sitting their end of year examinations in the half-term period following the Easter holidays, while mid-May sees the start of GCSE and A Level examination period for Year 11 and the Upper Sixth respectively. Exams are an oft-lamented but inescapable part of school life. They provide students, parents and teachers with the most accurate indication of the depth and quality of learning over an extended period of time. They provide universities and potential employers with a nationally-recognised and standardised benchmark with which to compare candidates. But they are stressful, and people react differently to stressful situations.
I have always found that acknowledging stress is extremely important in dealing with it. Last Friday, I had the privilege of speaking to all students during Senior School assembly. For fifteen or so minutes, I provided (I hope) an engaging and fun whistle-stop tour through a number of strategies for coping with stress. They included avoiding procrastination, listening to music, cuddling and doing regular exercise, the last two of these demonstrated with full audience participation! The assembly was not supposed to trivialise the way that we respond to or cope with stress, but to give the subject some air time.
The last coping strategy that I mentioned in assembly was to access all available support. Our girls are very fortunate to have an incredible support network both in and out of school. That we have a physical representation (‘The Bench’) of the level of pastoral and academic care in the school is testament to the Every Girl, Every Day ethos that pervades our institution. I have no doubt that ‘The Bench’ will become increasingly populated during the next few months, and would encourage your daughters to seek help and advice from my colleagues by this or another mechanism. I would also encourage them to continue to access the plethora of resources and revision materials that can be found on Firefly.
Finally, I wish to thank you, as parents, for all that you continue to do to support your daughters. One study, completed nearly twenty years ago and reported in the journal Psychological Review, found that for females in particular, spending time with friends and family helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. However you spend time together, I have no doubt that this oxytocin will be particularly appreciated as we approach the summer term.
Deputy Head (Academic)