My 16-year-old son attends an international school, and although he has only been back at school for three weeks since the Easter break, he has just started study leave for his GCSE exams. I am concerned because not only am I paying school fees even thought he is not attending school, but also I am not at home during the day so I cannot monitor what he is doing. What should I do? Teacher Jake Burnett replies: The term 'study leave' is commonly used to apply to extended periods of time during which students are sitting final examinations. It is a time when students are expected to revise thoroughly and prepare themselves for the assessments they are about to take once the direct taught part of their courses has finished. As such, it should be a very productive time, helping students to focus on what is ahead. However, as any parent of a teenager will tell you, it's never quite as simple as that. Your concern about school fees is commonly raised. It is often linked with questions about what teachers are doing now they are not teaching these exam-based classes. You should be aware that fee-paying education cannot be based on a simple pro-rata basis. At this time of year there are many extra and unseen costs which schools have to bear. These costs include paying for exam invigilation, supporting the huge amount of extra administration necessary in the actual running of external exams, while also helping to cover the day-to-day logistics and costs such as electricity, cleaning, furniture moving and repair, which are all vital for the exams to run smoothly and efficiently. Remember that these costs are extra for any school and have to be covered by their only source of income, school fees. During this period there are many occasions when teachers will be directly continuing to help individuals and groups of students. Some students will be in regular contact by e-mail or by using a school's virtual learning environment. Others, having made appointments in advance, will come into school and work directly with their teachers. Schools also provide areas for students on study leave to work within the school itself so that these students actually follow the regular routine of a normal school day. This is also a time of year when many other students are given opportunities to take part in field work or trips outside of school. Almost certainly, your son benefited from these excursions. If you have real concerns about your son there are several suggestions to keep him focused and to stop you from worrying. Firstly, he should try to maintain a regular bed and waking time. He should continue to follow a focused revision timetable which has time slots in it for both relaxation and intensive study, as well as exercise. It can be difficult to monitor this if you are not at home, but try to keep an eye on what he is doing in a supportive and positive way. If he knows that you are going to phone him at least once a day, he'll know that you're keeping an interested eye on what he's doing. Ask him about what he's done and offer ways of becoming involved in his revision, such as asking him to prepare some quick quizzes and tests that you can go through with him in the evening. If possible, try to get home during the working day to ensure he is on track. This doesn't need to be more than once or twice a week. If you can't do it, perhaps you can ask a friend or neighbour. Make sure he knows you are trusting him but also make it clear to him that if this trust is abused, there are other ways you can make sure he is monitored more rigorously, such as studying at school.