On the fateful day of March 20th, the Prime Minister announced the cancellation of the GCSE 2020. A cloud of ambiguity descended on the students and teachers who had been diligently preparing for these exams. Students in general don’t exactly look forward to being tested, yet it’s funny how the announcement of the cancellation of the board exam had a disheartening, disorienting effect on us. Having a common goal and having to work towards it together- day in and day out – had unified all the year 11 students and their teachers into a single close-knit community. Then one fine day, this goal was taken away and so was the community.

Sure, the Bridge courses towards A levels are going on. So are the on-line channels of communication. But is it the same? It does not give the same sense of purpose. The warmth of magnanimity in teachers’ relationship with their students, the effortless ease and the pointless humour between peers - are all inimitable in the virtual world.  We, the Year 11s are at a juncture, where we are still not weaned off from our predisposition to glorify the GCSE. Right now, A level feels distant and surreal.  It doesn’t feel right to abandon years of prep work and planning, while all the revisions and practical assignments are at its culmination point.

Learning is an incremental process. Consistent exposure to the learning experiences at school results in dynamic changes in a student’s attitude towards learning. Autumn and Spring terms of Year 11 is replete with intense learning experiences that bring about dramatic changes in the way students approach learning. Furthermore, Mock exam results usher in a much-needed clarity of thought and a renewed determination to achieve our academic goals. These are some of the reasons why any attempt to grade a Year 11 student based on prior attainment, teachers’ assessment of the likely grades; or any other combination of parameters, would, at best be a mere conjecture. This hits hard on students who had plans to upgrade their subject choices for A levels and those who had plans to test their mettle in a more academically challenging environment for the next phase of their academic journey.

This brings me to the point that the idea of time is elusive. We plan well, or we procrastinate – naturally feeling comfortable that time is on our side and all the things that need to be done will eventually get done. COVID 19 has changed the way we perceive time and the way we interact with it; just like the tangible essentials of life, this intangible asset has also, all of a sudden, accentuated itself. We are all on an inescapable process of retrospection about the way we have been spending our tangible and intangible essentials of life. 

COVID 19 has stolen the moments of my future when I will be thanking my teachers, in person, for their relentless hard work and boundless goodwill. It has snatched away the opportunity from friends to mellow into an inevitable farewell with those whose paths diverge at this point.

Four or six months later, when we come out of this, we might not know what incertitude are waiting to pounce on us. Hopefully, we come out of this edified, and never again feign confidence about our mastery of time; never again hold back thoughts of gratitude or shy away from comradeship.