GCSEs disaster? Don’t panic
Former teacher and founder of online tuition firm TLC LIVE, Simon Barnes, offers parents advice on what they can do if their children don’t get the GCSE results they expected.
On 18 June, schools in England submitted their estimated grades for students based on their performance in the spring assessments and select pieces of homework. GCSE results day 2021 is 12 August, a week earlier than usual — this is to provide students more time to appeal decisions in advance of university admissions.
What to say to your child before GCSE results
As students await the release of their results, many are – quite reasonably – nervous. If your child asks ‘What if I don’t get my GCSE grades?’ be there to listen and reassure them you are there to help out.
Exams are never entirely a true reflection of a student’s ability, but this year’s continuation of the Covid-era predicted grade system is unprecedented. Teachers have been put in an incredibly difficult and unusual position. Here are 6 things you can do if your child doesn’t achieve the results they were hoping for.
1. Focus on the future after GCSEs results
The grading this year has been done using data collected across the students’ GCSE and A level courses. The grades should reflect the students’ ability and will have been moderated both in school and then again by their exam boards. This should prevent unfair grading. Of course, there will be students who could have performed well on the day in an exam and achieved a higher grade, but the main focus at this stage should be on their mental wellbeing and whether they have what they need to move to the next stage of education.
Although it is always nice for parents if their children earn straight grade 9s, the most important thing is that they have the grades necessary for September. Schools always report that some students who scrape into college then go on to thrive, whilst some students who achieve great grades then struggle with the step up to A level – this isn’t the year to get hung up on grading, every student deserves a lot of credit!
2. Review evidence submitted
If the grades awarded don’t meet the entry requirements for the college and a place isn’t forthcoming, the first step would be to appeal the grade. There is a clear process for this but it’s unlikely that there would be a large change, so it should only really be considered if the grade is borderline.
If the destination college has concerns about your child’s ability to sit the course, you could appeal to them directly and show them examples of your child’s work to demonstrate potential. We previously provided a college with work completed to show that a student was at grade 4 level, equivalent C grade, when they hadn’t been awarded a grade due to historical gaps in their education.
3. Watch out for and consider GCSEs resits
Dates haven’t been announced yet but this year will probably follow the same pattern as last year. If a student needs to (or wants to) sit an exam to better their grade, it is likely that this will take place in November. This is a good opportunity to sit the exam proper but bear in mind it will likely coincide with other academic commitments.
4. Look specifically at the January mock
Pay close attention to your child’s mock results as this may have thrown the overall grading. Some mocks were taken before the government announced exams were to be cancelled and therefore at the time of sitting, students wouldn’t have expected this to count towards their grading. Additional evidence would have been collected by schools more recently, but absences may have meant these assessments were missed.
5. Ask for extra support
The National Tutoring Programme isn’t (currently) available for students aged 16 or over (though may be soon), however if students have failed GCSE maths or English (below a grade 4) then education placements should continue to support with these subjects and it would be worth asking what other support the student could receive, perhaps some tutoring, in the build up to resits.
6. Stay focused on what matters
The past year has been incredibly tough on students and parents, and disappointing GCSE grades will undoubtedly be hard to accept. It’s important to remind children that there are still plenty of options – including appeals and resits – so a bad result isn’t the end of the world. Securing what you need to take the next step should be the focus.
More BritMums posts related to GCSEs results
- Did’t get the A-level results you wanted? Here’s what to do next (from Ofqual)
- Best places for teens to holiday in the UK post A-Levels and GCSEs
- 20 brilliant ideas for teens’ post-GCSE holidays
- A-Level results: What a shambles!