To line them up or not to line them up?


Whilst this may seem completely pointless to you I have a real issue with lining up students before they go into an exam.

My first school was a challenging one. We had to set high expectations and behaviours to ensure chaos didn’t ensue. Before an exam students had to line up, in silence in alphabetical order. It promoted the seriousness of the coming event and got the students to start as we meant them to go on, into the exam hall. There was a member of SLT present for every exam. Also, the Head of dept was always there at the start of their exam to calm nerves, answer last minute questions and generally check things were OK?

So when I at my third school they didn’t really bother with this, I was shocked. Students roughly lined up but weren’t told to stand in silence. In fact, often there was no SLT there. Heads of dept didn’t go down to see the students. It was very laissez-faire. I didn’t like it. I tried to query it but others didn’t seem to think it was important. Whilst the studnets were different in their behaviours from my first school, I still thought that this occasion needed a formalised structure. It was generally their only chance at the exam. 

As part of the SSAT Outstanding schools programme I visited a school that lined up students in silence before every lesson. Students walked in silence to their classroom. It was regimented, almost robotic. But it set the standard. You knew if a student wasn’t going to line up they probably weren’t going to do as they’re told in class. It’s almost a test of whether they were going to comply further. SLT were there to pick out any that decided not to do as told.

Some may call it traditional but I see more benefits of lining up students, in silence beyond tradition. It creates an atmosphere of expectation, you can see who’s not going to comply so you can deal with them before they embark on the activity and it makes the event a special and unique one.

So, now I’m at a new school I wonder what will happen.

Do you think that lining studnets up is imporatnt or just traditional nonsense? Does the ethos of the school impact this? Is there any sort of correlation between this and other things such as success, behaviour etc?


2 thoughts on “To line them up or not to line them up?

  1. I am in my first school at the moment and I too was shocked when pupils just flounced into the exam hall in their own time. No regimented system for it happening, no silence until SLT requested it (and even then not complete until the exam began). Needless to say it does not promote the respect for the examination room that it deserves.

    I am in favour of lining up. Much more so now I am actually in a school that doesn’t do it.

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