A message from Student Support
On behalf of the Student Support team, we would like to wish our students, parents and carers a safe and restful half-term break. We have provided some information below to support our students’ health and well-being:
Thank you to our Student Mentors
At Beacon Academy, we recognise the amazing and mature contribution our students make to the school and each other. Our Assistant Head of Year 8, Mrs Carne is currently running our Student Mentor Programme and we are delighted we now have more than thirty Year 10 and Year 12 students supporting students in Years 8 and 9.
Year 12 student, Savanna-Ann, describes her experience as a mentor;
“Mentoring to me means getting to know someone who is younger than me and understanding their issues on a level that they may not have with friends, parents or teachers. I think that mentoring is successful because it gives the younger student a chance to air out any problems they are having with someone who they know will be discrete and caring. I think that it is successful because it allows me to grow as an individual by enabling me to use my past experiences to help someone else.”
Click here to read more about our Student Mentor Programme. Please contact Mrs Carne with any questions.
For the sixth consecutive year, our free exam breakfasts for Year 11 students are now in full swing and it is wonderful to see such a positive response from our students. In previous years the breakfasts have been entirely financed by the school, however more recently we have been fortunate enough to receive generous donations from local businesses and via our parent body. This year we would like to thank Waitrose Crowborough, for their kind donation towards the first exam breakfast.
Supporting our students’ physical and mental health and wellbeing is an absolute priority for us at all times, and during the intense five week period of summer exams, students can inevitably feel overwhelmed. Alongside everything else we do to support the students with revision, we feel that our annual free exam breakfasts ensure that they are not only well fed and hydrated but also fully supported by subject staff right up to the last minute, prior to the start of the exam. We hope this in turn will help our students to make the best progress possible.
We were delighted to receive the following feedback about the exam breakfasts from a Year 11 parent:
“I just wanted to send an email to thank Beacon for all the support being given to the Year 11s during this stressful time during their exams. I think the breakfasts are a great thing to offer the students prior to the morning exams as it helps calm them down and relax with their friends with the support of the teachers. I just wanted to acknowledge how grateful we are as parents for all these additional extras and really appreciate what a great school our son attends.”
Beacon Academy is continuously looking to establish and build partnerships with local and surrounding businesses and industries. If you would like to make a contribution to the provision of the exam breakfasts, please contact Katie Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01892 603 000, ext. 139.
Staying Healthy During Exams
During the exam period in particular, it is important to look after yourself. Four important things to remember are:
Eating and drinking: You need to eat well and this does not mean eating a lot, but maintaining a well-balanced diet that is reasonably healthy. Don’t be tempted to skip meals - your body and mind will not thank you for that and you will find it harder to concentrate. Make sure that you take in plenty of fluids, remember that drinking water helps your brain to function well.
Sleeping: It is very important that you get enough sleep. Set yourself a time to stop revising – 9pm is late enough for most people – and be strict. It is important that you have enough time to relax before bed.
Exercise: Exercise has proven benefits for brain activity as it gets the blood flowing faster around your body, including your brain. Try to do some exercise every day, even if it is just taking a brisk walk for ten minutes.
Socialising: It is helpful to have a good work / life balance. There is nothing wrong with meeting up with friends as long as it is not at the expense of your work.
- Managing stress: Be organised and start your revision early, don’t compare yourself with others, everyone is different, make sure you do other things such as exercise, meeting friends etc, try out some meditation or mindfulness exercises, this can really help to reduce stress.
Mental Health Awareness Week: Smilinggg Assemblies
This term we were really privileged and proud to welcome back one of our alumni and founder of health and well being initiative, Smilinggg, James Cooper. James held assemblies with students of all year groups during Mental Health Awareness Week from 13 - 19 May.
Through Smilinggg, James raises funds and awareness for Mind and Samaritans by participating in endurance events and promoting the three Gs – gratitude, generosity and growth. James spoke to each year group about how he has overcome some huge personal challenges in his life by choosing to adopt a positive mindset and encouraged the students to develop strategies to support their own positive mental health.
James’ messages about the importance of maintaining a growth mindset were particularly effective and we have included two of the images from his assemblies below. The first demonstrates that success does not come overnight, but instead takes hard work, determination and learning from failure. The second illustrates the power of the word ‘yet’ - encouraging students to understand that just because we cannot do something immediately does not mean that we will not overcome it and achieve.
We are very grateful to James for his ongoing support of our school and for contributing the following article to this newsletter:
5 Stress Busting Strategies to Better Cope with Exams
James Cooper, Health and Wellbeing Coach and Founder of Smilinggg
It seems rather fitting that Monday 13th May 2019 marked both the beginning of the formal summer examination period and Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK.
Exams and mental health go hand in hand. There’s very little getting away from the fact that exam season can be a stressful time of year for students and parents alike. It’s worth noting however that what you’re feeling right now is completely natural, and the overwhelming majority will be feeling exactly the same. Take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone.
I bet you’ve heard this a million times before but it’s worth repeating. All you can ever do is your best and whilst it is easier said than done, try not to give yourself a hard time.
Remember that what you’re feeling right now shall pass. Both the exams and stress will be a distant memory in no time at all and you’ll soon be enjoying the summer holidays!
In the meantime, I’ve put together five simple stress busting strategies and tips to help you better cope with exam stress.
1: Go for a walk Exercise is a proven stress buster as it fills your brain with endorphins, which are essentially happy hormones. A brisk twenty-minute walk can work wonders and helps put things into perspective. Leave your phone at home and immerse yourself in nature. Listen to the birds, feel your feet connecting with the ground, look up and breathe deeply; fill your lungs with fresh air.
2. Breathe This sounds rather obvious considering it’s something that we do naturally; but have you ever recognised how you breathe when you’re feeling stressed or anxious? It often feels fast, tense and restrictive. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. Try this simple deep breathing technique:
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your stomach just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your stomach push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
- Do this breathing 5 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
- Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.
3. Sleep your way to success It’s easy to neglect sleep when you have exams looming but getting enough quality sleep (8-10 hours a night) will improve thinking, concentration and help you reduce stress far more than a few hours of panicky last-minute study.
The deep breathing technique performed before bed will help significantly in easing yourself into a slumber state. Try to limit exposure to screens before bed. Opting for a book before bedtime is a much more sensible choice than Netflix or social media. So be sure to switch your mobile phone to airplane mode.
One final word on sleep; avoid drinking soft drinks and energy drinks, particularly after lunch. The caffeine can stimulate your nervous system making you feel more stressed, caffeine can also prevent natural relaxation at night. You’ve been warned! Stick to water would be my advice.
4. What’s in your control? How often do we worry about things that we cannot control? One of my chief worries when I was at school was ‘what questions might appear on the test paper?’ Rather than expending energy and stressing over these uncontrollables, a better use of your time is to focus your attention on what you can control.
Create a revision schedule and plan a daily routine that you can stick to. Incorporate regular breaks (10 minutes or so for every focused hour), and use these breaks productively to recharge. Spending a little time away from the books will leave you feeling more refreshed and relaxed the next time you revise.
There really is no greater feeling than going into an exam hall knowing you’ve given it your all with revision. Remember proper preparation prevents poor performance.
5. Believe in YOURSELF!
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~ A. A. Milne
During stressful moments it becomes all too easy for self-doubt to creep in. The little devil on our shoulder tries to tell us that we are underprepared, and this doubt can very quickly escalate into full-blown fear.
Counter this negative cycle by bringing to mind a memory when you exceeded your own expectation. Revisit this moment and the way it made you feel. Stay with this feeling for a while.
Now take time to repeat the following three affirmations. Repeat each one three times whilst taking long and slow breaths. Find your own rhythm.
“I am relaxed and calm.” “My tension is melting away.” “I am letting go of all my worries and fears.”
When practiced consistently, these affirmations will help to create a sense of space within the mind and support lowering stress levels.
Wishing you every success!
A useful resource from Big Life Journal
Following on from James Cooper’s strategies for maintaining a positive mindset, this free printable from Big Life Journal provides parents with a helpful tips and ideas to combat the underlying beliefs some people have about learning and intelligence. Download the prinatable via this link.
Exams and revision support
In addition to the targeted revision support available by invitation to Year 11 and Sixth Form students during the half-term break, we would like to remind students, parents and carers that our Exams and Revision page also features useful information and resources to support with preparation for the examination period, including:
The complete summer exam and revision timetable for Year 11 students.
Our Student Exam Handbook containing all the relevant information about exams and assessments.
- A resource pack from Ofqual to help students and their families cope with exam pressure.