It’s usually the students who get nervous before exams but Long Field Academy assistant principal Sharon Maloney got a taste of exactly what they go through when she secretly sat a GSCE in school.
Teaching colleagues and pupils have been congratulating Sharon this week after she achieved an impressive grade six in her English language paper.
She decided to take it after turning 50 and admits it was a nerve-wracking experience, after using head of English, Rhea Fallows, as her tutor to study and revise with.
Sharon told the Melton Times: “It was awful when it came to taking the exam and I remember telling Rhea that it was actually making me quite poorly.
“I studied for six weeks when it normally takes our year 10 and 11 students two years so I found that a real challenge as well doing it 34 years after I left school.
“I didn’t tell anyone at Long Field that I was doing it but when I heard I had passed the students were really supportive.
“When the head announced it at a staff briefing they were all a bit shocked that I had taken the exam but I got a lot of congratulations.”
Sharon admits to not being very academic at school when she didn’t take any O-levels - the equivalent of GCSEs in those days - and passed only the lower level CSEs.
She worked in the catering industry after leaving and after having two daughters she decided to improve her education, passing a maths GCSE in 2008 at the same time as eldest daughter Jemma and then taking a BA Honours degree after qualifying for it by passing a foundation degree course.
She has worked her way up to being assistant principal despite not having a professsional teaching qualiication.
But her dream is to become a qualified teacher and she can now do that with a one-year PGCE course, having passed English and maths at GCSE.
Sharon, who is married to Eye Kettleby Lakes chef James and has two daughters, hopes she is setting a good example to pupils and that she is a good role model through passing exams later in life.
She added: “I do tell our year 10 students my story and that I was a rubbish student when I was their age.
“But also that I’ve worked hard to better myself and that they are better off doing it now rather than waiting until later in life to get a proper education.
“With me it was a case of ‘she’s not very clever, let’s leave her to it’ and there wasn’t the holistic support there is for schoolchildren now.”
Long Field principal, Chris Haggett said: “I am very proud of Sharon and how she has done.
“She put in lots of work in preparation and this is really great result for her.
“It is so hard getting GCSE English after you have left school, especially with the new style GCSEs, and that is why it is so important to get it when you are in school.”