School can be a great time with new experiences, learning about things you didn’t know, hanging out with friends etc. It can also have its down times. This section talks about some of these down times and ideas for managing them.
Page last updated: July 2019
Issues With Access & Not Being Included
Your teachers should be aware of your access requirements and needs and you should never be deliberately excluded from a class or activity. However, there may be occasions such as a school trip or sports day, where you may feel isolated from everyone else. If you know that a particular event is coming up, then speaking as early on as possible to your form tutor or another teacher about how you can be included can help. If, despite everyone’s best efforts to adapt things for you it doesn’t feel inclusive or you don’t feel comfortable, ask your tutor if maybe something else can be arranged for you, such as joining another class for that afternoon.
Exams are stressful for everyone and having SMA can make it even more daunting. Living with SMA means you should probably be entitled to extra support at exam time, which might include extra time in your exams, writing breaks if you are writing, use of a computer or a scribe (someone to help you write). This has to be agreed a long time in advance of the exam, so speak to your SENCO as early on as you can.
If you have a practical exam (such as art) also speak to your subject teacher about what extra support you need and how this will be provided in the exam.
If you need the toilet during an exam then, again, the school should be aware of your needs and extra time be added to the end of your exam if you need to go.
It's very common for pupils to struggle with exams and the time leading up to exams (disability or no disability!). Common feelings include anxiety, panic attacks, and problems with sleeping or eating. If you are worried or struggling, speak to someone you trust about how you feel – your form tutor, another teacher or, if you have one, the school counsellor. There are even apps where you can chat to someone online about how you are feeling.
Some things to help you prepare for your exams:
- Start revising at least 2 months before your first exam
- Make a revision timetable
- Don’t overwork yourself – allow yourself regular breaks and days off from revising
- Try to eat a healthy diet, especially on your exam days – fruit and cereal bars are good for keeping energy and brain power up!
- Keep hydrated – but also be aware if you may need to use the toilet during exams
- Get a good night’s rest before your exam days!
For more ideas, the Emotional & Psychological Support section may be helpful.
Bullying is not acceptable and shouldn't be tolerated by anyone. Schools will have a behaviour policy and should have clear rules and sanctions in place around bullying. Bullying can take many forms including verbal, physical and cyber bullying. If you feel that you're being bullied, please talk to someone – your form tutor, head of year or any member of staff that you feel comfortable with. Sometimes, your teachers being aware of situations and making sure that you don’t sit near certain people can make a big difference. Other times there may need to be further intervention. Either way, bullying is never your fault, and should be dealt promptly and seriously by your school.
Time Away & Getting Back In
When you’ve had some time off – and possibly quite a long time, dealing with ill health or surgery - the world of lessons, exams, classmates and everything connected with school or college can feel a million miles away. It can be difficult to get your head around how you’re going to go back to school and manage all that’s involved.
As mentioned in the section Attendance, Appointment and Hospital Stays, it may be possible for you to have a gradual return, for instance through part-time attendance for a limited time. You can discuss what will work best with the school and the services that have been providing education and care for you. You may also want to agree with school what information you’re comfortable having shared with other students.
We’re aiming to publish some experiences here, sharing what others have found works for them. If you have ideas, suggestions or a ‘story’ for this section, please get in touch.