A FINAL year student has spoken out about how it feels to have lost out on the chance to sit his GCSE exams, and to be thrust into an uncertain future.

Richmond School and Sixth Form student Jonathan Baines, who recently left school half-way through his Year 11, has written to The Northern Echo about his experiences.

He said: "What a turbulent few days it has been for this nation of ours.

"Friday was my last day at school. Exams cancelled, friends and family divided and the country in lockdown. When I got home Mum asked how I felt about the exams and to be frank, I wasn’t too sure how to respond.

"The whole event had gone so suddenly that I hadn’t really had time to consider my thoughts on the effects of losing all I had been working towards. "So how are we all feeling? Is everyone resigned to the recent events or are some of us furious at this decision by the government to cancel our GCSEs?

"With all our exams unexpectedly abandoned many students have been left to their own devices. This extended summer has been thrust on us all and we are simply unprepared as to what we are going to do, as well as questioning why we went to school for the last five years.

"This abrupt end isn’t the “dream” that some may perceive it to be. Last Friday night many were jubilant at the news, as would anyone be who was given a free ticket out of such a huge undertaking. However, there was also some fear, worry and concern about what was going to happen to our futures.

"Some feel that they have been tricked, betrayed by the system and now face the possibility of entering the outside world under-qualified and inexperienced. "After spending so long working tirelessly towards our exams and to have that opportunity taken from us has left many feeling cheated. Some are even keen to do their exams outside of school. Now the worry is setting in as we fret over whether we “get the grades we deserve” or not.

"Yet maybe over this summer the anger and worry will settle into boredom as nationwide isolation sets in.

There are others who are delighted at the news of the end of school and exams, partying that Friday night with friends, some even wet as far as to burn their books for subjects they hated. I wonder if these students will ever think about whether their lack of “real” exam results will have any negative effect on them.

"Personally, I feel a little divided in my opinions about the end of school. I miss seeing my friends and can imagine I will be thoroughly bored by the end of isolation, yet exam stress feels like it has been lifted from my shoulders. At the same time I feel sorry yet envious of those with subjects that include coursework. They are not free from all the worries of GCSEs as their work is still expected to be completed. Yet this is a blessing in disguise for them. It gives them the opportunity to gain marks on what they would’ve got instead of doing an exam next year during A levels or apprenticeships. This could work both ways for them but it is still a chance any of us would take, especially those of us like me who had no coursework subjects.

"All of us are now focused on the future, what it holds and what we can do to make it as good as possible."

"We mustn’t let the 2020 Coronavirus debacle define us, our future is still undetermined and ours to make. It all lies in our hands on what we choose to do with this incredible opportunity that has been laid at our feet, five months of free time, to do whatever we wish. I hope for all our sakes that we make the right choice."