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GCSE Results Day: A Guide for Parents
August 20, 2014
Mark Maclaine - education consultant, star tutor and Tutorfair founder – advises on how to support your child on GCSE results day.
Results day is not only a big day for your teenager, it is a big day for parents too. Your children are growing up, becoming young adults and beginning to make their own choices for the future. But they haven’t flown the nest just yet, so it’s important you’re there to offer the right guidance and support.
You are the rock
Remember to keep a level head; your role is to be supportive and reassuring. It is understandable as a parent to be emotional on a day that your children enter a new chapter of their lives; but this day is about your child’s feelings, more than your own. There is a strong likelihood that your teenager’s greatest fear is your reaction to the results. Let him know that, however worried you might be yourself, you’re there for him.
Listen to worries & offer reassurance
Reassure teenagers that whatever their results, you love them and are incredibly proud of their strength or hard work during a stressful time. This may seem obvious but it’s important for your child to hear it; you are (probably) the most important influence in her life. Get rid of the elephant in the room: sit down and talk about worries, as well as expectations of results day. Take the time to empathise with her fears; think about how you would feel if you were in his position. Just knowing there’s someone to share the worry is a huge help to teenagers.
Exam results aren’t everything
If your teenager is unduly worried, it might help to discuss the implications of exam results – good or bad. Ask her: what will happen if the results are not as good as hoped? What will it actually mean for her future? Hopefully your child will realise that exam results aren’t ‘everything’, and the worst that can possibly happen – isn’t actually that bad. Future success isn’t decided on this one day and there are plenty of options to improve results. Let her know that ‘failure’ is allowed – in fact it can be very valuable. A friend of mine re-sat some of her GCSEs twice to get the grades she wanted. She later told me that she had learnt a valuable lesson from having to re-sit: how to really work hard. The work ethic she developed during this time carried her to a first class degree from Oxford.
As well as offering reassurance, this mental preparation is important just in case things really don’t go according to plan, as it gives students time to process their thoughts in advance and make better informed decisions.
Most teenagers want to rip open the results straight away; but some want to prepare themselves first. If your teenager is anxious about the results, then hovering in the background biting your fingernails will not help! Similarly, if he hasn’t called you to let you know the grades yet it doesn’t necessarily mean bad news. Find something to distract yourself if necessary, to give your child the space to absorb the results in his own time.
What, when & where?
If you can, offer to accompany your child to collect results. Most teenagers prefer to collect them with friends, so don’t be offended if that’s the case – but try to be available to offer congratulations or commiserations.
Check with the school about opening and closing times on GCSE results day, when to come in, and where to collect the results from. This could be from the school reception, your child’s form room, even the school dining room! Some schools allow online viewing of results; others refuse even to give them out over the phone.
Is your child going somewhere else for 6th Form? Make sure you have contact details to hand in case the results haven’t met the entry requirements and you need to talk to someone there. Colleges do sometimes accept students who haven’t achieved their predicted results. It’s important to call as soon as possible to discuss the options open to you.
Time to Celebrate?
Your teen is a teen! He will likely want to celebrate or wallow on results day with his friends, and maybe even attend a book burning. This is the end of a chapter and a significant rite of passage for your child and his friends, and they will want to mark it together. Don’t take it personally, especially if the results are a disappointment – far better to commiserate with friends than sit in his room moping. But do plan a day to celebrate as a family - and remember: celebrate the effort, not the results!
Your Teen Didn't Achieve Her Predicted Results – What now?
- Firstly don’t panic!
- Don’t feel pressured into making rushed decisions
- Encourage your child to talk to her school and college for advice and information
- If he is attending a 6th Form College, get in touch as he may be accepted anyway. If not, try another College or school for open places.
- Maths & English re-sits can be sat either just before or after Christmas (depending on the exam boards), and others can be taken next summer. It is also possible to re-sit exams alongside her AS Levels if the school or college is happy with this.
- Consider vocational options such as a GNVQ or BTEC. These courses are usually geared to specific careers and offer hands-on experience.