AN OSWESTRY teaching assistant found an unusual way to help his GCSE students stay calm in their exams – by sitting one alongside them.

Rob Howell is a member of the learning support department in Oswestry School and he agreed to sit a chemistry GCSE alongside his students to put them at ease.

Rob went through the process, revising and studying at home in preparation to sit the exam and he has found by experiencing and remembering the pressure of exams he will be able to help his pupils much better in the future.

The teaching assistant said he was motivated to do this after discussing the importance of revision with pupils.

He added: "When I first began working at Oswestry School, as a member of the learning support department, I found it to be exciting and challenging in equal measure.

"I wanted to encourage the students I support in class and in learning support to succeed as well as supporting them as much as possible.

"During one particular session, I was discussing revision and how necessary it was.

"One pupil said: 'It's alright for you Sir, you don't know what it's like.'

"And I realised at that moment that I didn't know.

"So, I made a promise I would find out what it was like and take the GCSE alongside the class.

"It seemed like an ideal solution, I would be able to experience just what the pupils were going through and gain greater knowledge of the subject matter at the same time."

Rob started studying chemistry GCSE – and soon found the novelty began to wane.

He added: "Once the novelty factor wore off, and the students realised I was serious and intending to sit the exams, they were really supportive, and we started learning together.

"The saying 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks' rang scarily true, and on many occasions the pupils taught me, but eventually we got there together."

He said he understood the stress they go through.

Robb added: "Now I understand the stresses young people go through as they prepare for their exams.

"I have told the students if I fail to pass, I will not give up, I will re-sit the exam and do better next time.

"There is nothing to be ashamed of if results don't go your way first time.

"However, should I be successful, I have already told the fourth form that I will do GCSE physics with them next year."

Rob's approach has been praised by Oswestry School head teacher, Peter Middleton.

Mr Middleton said: "I take my hat off to Rob and it’s a really courageous thing to do and it is something out of his comfort zone and not his area of expertise.

"Regardless of outcome, it’s an eminently worthwhile and indeed admirable project and we look forward to hearing his results on exams day."