Here we are, in a position we never expected to find ourselves in. GCSE’s no longer going ahead, no school for the foreseeable future, and restrictions on how you can spend this large amount of free time you suddenly have.

These strange times mean you’re probably feeling sad, worried and anxious, or at least you have felt these things over the last month. I know this because I am a year eleven student myself; I’m going through the same things as you and feeling the same emotions as you. I wanted to write this to give you some advice, from one year eleven to another, so you know that you’re not alone in these scary times. I hope you may find it useful.

Looking after your mental health is so important, now more than ever. It’s natural that you’ll have bad days as well as good days, so don’t worry if you have days where you just want to stay in your bedroom and watch TV all day. You don’t have to feel on top of the world all the time, because let’s face it, no one is enjoying life as much as usual right now. But what’s crucial is that you talk to people about how you’re feeling. Your parents and carers are of course there to help you through whatever you may be struggling with.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them, there are so many resources available online such as which provides free online counselling. There are also helplines such as Childline which you can ring any time. The most important thing is that you’re not alone and there’s always someone you can confide in. Your friends are there for you too! If you’re reading this and you haven’t been in touch with a friend for a while, send them a message or give them a call! It could make the world of difference.

There’s a lot of questions around what you should actually be spending all this free time doing. While there’s no correct answer to this, here’s some things I think would be beneficial to you to spend your time on.

One of the most useful things you could be doing right now is looking into your next steps, whether that be college or an apprenticeship. If you are still unsure what you’d like to do in September, now’s your chance to really look into your options and start to decide which you think would be the best for you. If you already know what subjects or course you’re doing at college, start researching these! This is a great opportunity to gain some prior knowledge which will come in handy later on.

Now, I’m not saying you should spend all your time doing this, just a few hours a week will suffice and keep you busy. Because now is also a great time to do things you enjoy. Why not try a new hobby, like baking or learning an instrument? We’ve all got things we’ve put off because we had more important things to do. Now’s the time to do that thing, write that story, master that dance move, learn that new language. You may never get the chance to do these things again. Don’t waste it.

Most importantly, try not to worry. If you’re worried about the grades you’re going to get, I can assure you that your teachers will do everything they can to ensure you get the grades you deserve. If you’re worried about missing out on events like graduation and prom, I know that the majority of schools will have some kind of celebration event for year eleven if and when it is safe to do so. And if you’re worried about the fact that this seems endless, I’ll leave you with a quote that has really helped me over the past few weeks:

“Be strong because things will get better. It may be stormy now, but it never rains forever.”


2 Replies to “Dear Year 11”

  1. Wow, just wow Allanah!
    As a retired Secondary school Teacher and having a daughter who is one of YOUR teachers, I was so pleased she mentioned this article for me to read.
    I along with many other people will be bowled over by your maturity and community spirit- I now see why you are Head Girl at Cockburn!
    Your advise to your fellow students is spot on- sensible and uplifting.
    I cannot say it enough- WELL DONE. You should be very proud of yourself and are a credit to your family and teachers.
    I’m sure you will reach which ever goals you set yourself in the future.

  2. Nice one Allanah

    It’s great to see your continuing journalistic ambitions to be recognised. Well done on your carefully chosen words of advise which will hopefully go beyond South Leeds with your exciting opportunity to express your voice and opinions tonight on National radio. Will be listening and right behind you. Don’t be nervous, be yourself and all will be awesome.


    Russell Bell

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