This is a new story series! The Time I overcame…. The first story comes from Ailsa. I hope everyone likes this new series. Take it away, Ailsa.
Hi everyone, I am Ailsa, and I am the proud owner of Brains on Wheels. Brains on Wheels is my personal blog, where I write about my experiences surrounding my disabilities. I would like to thank Amanda for letting me write for her blog…
Today I would like to talk about how proud I am to have achieved my English GCSE at a grade 3.
In England, we have an education system where people who are 14 – 16 take exams called GCSEs, which stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. Genually, pupils around 16 years of age take their GCSEs. As far as I am aware, and in my experience, most GCSEs consist of coursework and exams. Some have more than one piece of coursework, some have more than one exam. It all depends on the subject
In June 2013, I took my GCSEs. I took all of the core (required) subjects; English, Mathematics, ICT (I got the highest grade in ICT), and combined Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). I chose to take one other subject: Health and Social Care. I sat each exam, I have double the amount of time to complete each paper. Everything went well in my exams, I am proud of my grades.
For the English exam, there were three components to make up the final grade; Controlled Assessments, also known as coursework, Speaking and Listening, and one written paper. I did all three parts.
In all my exams, I am aloud up to 100% extra time because it takes me longer to read and get my thoughts written down. I am also entitled to a reader, a scribe (writer) and rest breaks. It took me about five hours to complete my English exams! I made it! From analysing and comparing texts, to writing a short narrative, I did the lot. Five hours later, I was absolutely exhausted!
Then came Results Day. I went all the way back to my senior school, which was Portchester Community School to collect my GCSE results. When I arrived, first of all I had a quick natter with my friends, and met up with the LSA I had helping over the five years I was at the school. I took my results envelop and opened it… All of my results were as expected, apart from one subject: English.
Back then GCSE grades went from A* (which was the highest) to the lowest grade of G. U was ungraded.
I was predicted to get a D in English at school. When I looked at my English grade, the paper said that I got a G. On the paper, it had the grade broken down into three sections: Coursework, the Speaking and Listening, and the exam. I had marks for the coursework and the Speaking and Listening exam, but they had my result for the paper marked as 0!
I was so upset with this! English has always been one of my strongest subjects and to go through this was horrible. After a lot of conversations between my mum, school, the exam board and I, we found out that the exam board had lost the paper with my answers written on. We were all incredibly angry about this. The rules say that if the exam boards lose someone’s paper, they have to give the candidate their predicted grade. The exam board announced that they had “found” my paper and gave me an F. To this day, all of us think that they never found my paper, and they didn’t want to give me my predicted grade, so they just picked any old grade to give me.
Anyway, when I was about to start, the staff at my college (UK) said that if I didn’t get a grade C or above, they would help me to get a higher grade. I can’t remember when, but when I asked about re-sitting my English GCSE, they refused to give me the opportunity on the grounds that I wasn’t working at the appropriate level. They also said that I “wouldn’t be able to cope” in a mainstream class, even though I went through mainstream schools. This made me extremely angry, and even more determined to prove them wrong.
We made a deal that if I passed Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills English, I could then re-sit my GCSE. Functional Skills English has never been practical for me because the writing part has to either be hand-written or typed on a computer. Even though I am able to use a computer with my feet, when I get stressed or emotional, my mussels refuse to function effectively. As a result, I couldn’t type very well or quickly and before I knew it, my time was up. Straight away I knew that I didn’t write enough to pass. I took this exam twice, and the second time around, I passed!
They finally allowed me to join a GCSE English class after passing Level 1. I did well in the classes, but the college still would not let me take the GCSE. I took the class for two or three years before I was allowed to take the exam. I watched lots of other students; my peers gearing up for their exams, knowing that I wasn’t going to be taking the exam with them.
By the time I was put in to do the GCSE English exam, in 2018, the system had changed completely. The grades changed from A* to G, to 1 to 9. I had to learn a new set of skills for this exam, which wasn’t that bad, but it was still annoying. I was just lucky that I had a fantastic teacher!
The good thing about the exam changing is that it was a shorter exam. I still got double the time take the written exam, but because it was shorter, it was easier. I still did the Speaking and Listening exam with the same amount of time as the rest of the people doing this exam though.
When I came out of my last exam, I was so excited and proud of myself for doing it that I screamed at the top of my lungs. One of the things that I said was “in your face!”, I know that was a bit childish, but I don’t really care because I waited so long to do it. I just want to thank the people who believed in me and gave me the chance to do this. It really was an amazing feeling!
It just goes to show that you should believe in yourself and you should never take ‘no’ for an answer. If you want something that much, you should fight for it!
Thank you for reading this blog post, I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my achievement! Feel free to visit my blog, subscribe and follow me on Social Media…
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