My Week

Kevin Heritage Head of Sixth Form at Cherwell School, Oxford
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The Independent Culture
Sunday

I spent last week with my wife and two sons on holiday in Cornwall, and need to recover from the seven-and-a-half hour car journey back to Oxford. I try to savour the last few hours of holiday before thinking about the week ahead.

The week the A-level results come out is always very busy. Each year it feels as if I am waiting for my own results - a mix of joy and foreboding. Cherwell is a truly comprehensive school with a wide mix of pupils, and I'm quietly confident as last year's results were good. The weather is good so I work in the garden to take my mind off school.

Monday

I am still in my holiday sleeping pattern and wake up quite late. I take my youngest son, Christopher, 9, to summer school. The weather is pretty awful, so I continue with my filing and sorting. By lunch, I've finished, and my wife, also a teacher, returns from collecting books for her school.

I check the UCAS lists to see what grades students need to get their places at university. About half have applied for 2000 entry, which is less worrying for these people: they are not hanging on the results and have a year to sort themselves out if they need to. The 1999 entrants are my main concern.

I am involved in a local history project and spend the afternoon doing research. I have invited our neighbours, Sid and Audrey, to come for dinner. Sid has brought his home-made wine which is a nice (lethal!) addition to the evening. I get to bed around one-thirty.

Tuesday

Wake up to news of the earthquake in Turkey. I am concerned as some of our friends are over there.

I collect Christopher from summer school. On the way home, I buy some papers to read about A-level predictions. As usual they say grades are going up and standards are going down. This really annoys me: it belittles what the students have achieved. I have been teaching for more than 20 years and I know that students are working much harder and doing much better these days.

I have a debate with my eldest son, James, 13. He wants the Internet at home to help with his homework - and to surf the Star Wars pages. I sound old fashioned, at 42, but I don't want the invasion.

However, I suppose I may well be forced into submission - eventually.

Wednesday

Up reasonably early to buy The Independent: its Which Way magazine is very useful. I hear my friends in Turkey are safe - a big relief.

I complete the first draft of my research project and head off to school to get the results from the computer. The deputy head, Erica Dray, and myself spend three hours matching the codes to names. We are starting to get a pretty good picture of results. Out of 164 candidates, 50 per cent of grades were As or Bs, 66 per cent were A-C grades and 92 per cent A-E, with an average point score of 19.

These are the best results we have ever had: some students have done much better than was expected. I am very pleased. But my work is not over: I have to go home and match up the results to the UCAS forms. I finish at around eleven.

Thursday

Up at quarter past six. I buy two copies of The Independent UCAS lists on my way to school. I meet the exams officer Roger Battley. He has been here since six waiting for the post. We have to collate all the result slips and put them into envelopes. By half-past-nine, there are queues of students outside, eager for their results. We don't post the results on the wall at Cherwell, I don't think it is right to share the grades. All the students get their own envelopes, it's very personal.

Every one is really calm this morning, there is no screaming, only a few tears of disappointment - this can be a stressful time for students. I have to post results which haven't been collected and have even e-mailed someone in Indonesia.

I have a relaxing evening listening to Wagner, Mozart and Bruckner at the Proms. We take a bus from Oxford to the Albert Hall, and arrive back at about midnight.

Friday

Woken up by the cat at 5.15. In school by half-seven after picking up the papers. I have a post A-level clinic at school between nine and 12, and see 25 people. Some are considering retakes or need help making decisions for applications for next year. At lunchtime I pick up some chairs for the sixth form common room, donated by my wife's school.

At 2.30. I head home to pick up the family. We are off to Nuneaton to spend the weekend with my parents.

I pray for sun.

Interview by

Daisy Price

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