Do good exam results lead to happiness?

Early summer has been the season for many formalised assessments and examinations up
and down the country. Once, I read an article on BBC news where the Head of Ofsted
warned that Schools in England are focusing on too much on tests and exams, rather than
giving pupils a good grounding in a wide range of subjects. They said, “School leaders need
to recognise how easy it is to focus on the performance of the school and lose sight of the

As a parent, I have pondered what the purpose of examinations and assessments are or
more accurately, what the results from them are used for. The pass rates, the statistical
analysis of who passes what and which subject and how are logged and analysed from
Ofsted to schools all the way to Higher Education. Please don’t get me wrong here, I
understand the importance of fairness and consistency and the auditing process to provide
the data to measure achievement, particularly as an educator, to evaluate and monitor
student progress and the overall success of the teaching and learning strategies.

What concerns me, though, is when these examination results become the basis of the
value of ‘happiness’ attached to each individual child/pupil. That the higher the grade
achieved somehow makes the parents/carers/teachers ‘happy’ with the children. Yes, it’s
great to see the progress and achievement of course it is, but I have seen too many students
who end up doing courses their parents/carers want them to do or feel under huge pressure
to keep churning out high grades even though their heart may not be in that area of study.

What makes a child happy will not be the same as ALL children are unique and individual.
We know of this as adults as everyone is different which makes us interesting. What is a joy
to one e.g. playing football may be a complete misery to another? Solving complex Maths
problem may be a joy for one child but not for another child who do not enjoy maths.

Before the days of electronic submissions, I have seen some beautifully illustrated scientific
report submitted by students with A* in Art A’ levels, when asked why they did not pursue
that subject they all say “…Ah my parents said I will not be able to find a decent job
afterwards and I wanted to make them happy…”. I wrote an earlier blog sharing my
observation about this very issue…

I speculate that the ‘stress’ these young people are experiencing comes from unrealistic
expectations placed upon them from others (and by themselves to ‘please’ the adults
around them). We need to equip students with not just academic skills but lifelong skills to
manage themselves which they are not taught because the whole educational system is
aimed at getting high grades…, which creates further stress.

We need artists, scientists, engineers, and nurses as well as lollypop ladies, bakers and fire
fighters. We need a variety of people to make this world work. The SEJ Process empowers
us to find our own truth,happiness and purpose, and teaching that to children would truly
empower them for life. Finally, I would like to leave you with one of the powerful quotes
from Mary.

“I have seen many parents say to their children, ‘I just want you to be happy’. They then
force upon them limiting beliefs of what they should and shouldn’t do that cause their
unhappiness. When they stop you take over and continue to force them upon yourself. It’s
time to wake up.”

Jacqueline Mary Phillips

Dr M Howard-Kishi

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