Most teenagers don’t take up a part-time job until they reach sixth form. I have no stats to prove this, it is just based on anecdotal evidence and the experiences of my eldest daughter. Unusually, my middle child, aged 16 and currently studying for GCSEs, has held down a casual job for half of year 11, alongside a handful of friends.
So as the momentum gathers towards the GCSE season, due to start next month in May, she is juggling studying and part-time work.
Now, it isn’t quite as horrendous as it might first sound. She works at our local football ground Wycombe Wanderers FC as a ‘runner’. This means she is at the beck and call of those who inhabit the corporate boxes on match days. It involves serving them their meals, taking drink orders to the bar and delivering their order back to the box. It’s an easy job as jobs go, she works with a nice bunch of people including one of her best friends, two boys in the same year and at the same school and the brother of her sister’s best friend who is also the same age and in the same year group.
We are nearing the end of the season, in fact, WWFC plays its last league game on Saturday, just a few weeks before the exams start, so the timings work well. However, until a match or two ago, WWFC looked like they were in with a chance of the play-offs, consequently, the last Saturday and a following Tuesday match proved to be among the busiest of the season as excitement increased of ‘what might be’.
So it came to be that this particular Tuesday evening match, just a month before the GCSEs were due to begin and on a school night, WWFC’s corporate boxes were pretty much fully booked. They needed the runners, those GCSE students who usually work on Saturday match days. There were at least five year 11 youngsters who worked that night, they barely had time to catch their breath in between rushing home after the school bell sounded and heading to the ground for 5pm. They finished just after 10pm and were in school as usual the following day.
It had crossed my mind that perhaps she should forego this particular shift, but, interestingly, none of the other parents of the GCSE aged students, some of whom I know, made that decision. And nor did we sound each other out about whether they should or shouldn’t work.
So are we irresponsible parents running the gauntlet with our kids’ GCSE results? Or are we well-grounded adults teaching our kids valuable life skills inevitably gained by working but also having to juggle and balance work and study, the responsibility of delivering for an employer when the need arises and coping when the going gets a bit tough and pressured?
Obviously the latter, surely that argument wins hands down?
As long as the youngsters aren’t neglecting their studies (and I am confident none of them do) there is no reason why they can’t step up to the plate and balance two priorities at once. We do it every day at work. Clearly, it would be a different matter if we were actually in the throes of the exams themselves but this wasn’t the case.
These kids were inadvertently taught an extremely valuable lesson not only in the world of work but how to plan your studies around other demands in life. They were a bit tired at school the next day and they probably didn’t focus as they would have done on any other day. But they got through it and proved to themselves that they can just get on with it and come out the other side and I am sure their exam results will do all of them justly proud.
Shame about WWFC though, currently in ninth position in the League Two table. There’s always next season!