Turn over your papers . . . NOW

I couldn't sleep the night before.

My bottom set Year 11 set were taking their English Language GCSE exam the next day. I lay there in bed worrying about what I hadn't taught them.

I was in school by 7:15 for a pre-exam breakfast. More surprisingly, a large number of my students were. The idea is to make sure they got a decent meal before the exam and to take care of any last minute concerns.

It's quite possible that none of this set will pass. They are very weak and find everything about English tough. Yet even if that does turn out to be the case, I do feel I've achieved something. These are some of the most disengaged students in the school and when I first taught them it was a battle just to get them to put pen to paper.

Now, the vast majority turn up to class and try. They get through the work. They enthusiastically ask questions. They've started to take an interest in passing. The students I started with would not have turned up at 7:15 on their exam day; several wouldn't have turned up at all. Whatever happens, this change of attitude is something I can cling onto.

We sat in my classroom waiting to go over for the hall. I'd never seen them like it, silent with anxiety. I crack a few poor jokes to lift the mood and then it's time to take them over. As I see them taking their seats in the hall, ready to do their best, I feel a little bit of pride.