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Collecting exam results is never a happy task, but pity the kids this year having to be judged after 18 months of almost constant disruption. I have one such child, an 18 year old awaiting A Level results and a nod from the gods of university entry on whether his life takes the path he hopes for, or does a 180 handbrake turn on him. It’s tough for parents too – lord knows we’ve been looking forward to booting our teens onto unsuspecting student unions all year (oh come on, admit it!).

Helen Pike

There’s a lot at stake so we’ve enlisted Helen Pike, Master at Magdalen College School in Oxford, one of the top independent day schools in the UK, to help navigate the next few days. Pen and paper, class? Over to you, Helen.

Firstly and above all congratulations to all students on their results this week in their A levels (10 Aug) and GSCEs (12 Aug). They’ve come through a good deal during the past two years, and in 2021 in particular. But what if results day doesn’t bring the grades that your children (or you as parents) have hoped for?

ADVICE FOR STUDENTS

The temptation might be to sit at home or flee school and find somewhere private to cry or mope, but now really isn’t the time.  When the going gets tough, the tough really do need to get going!

If you log onto UCAS track and find that you don’t have a place, do contact the institution and see if they’ll still take you. Bear in mind that universities may be wary of being oversubscribed this year, so they may not make a decision immediately. They may also offer you a similar course, or a different campus.  

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Look at what’s available via Clearing, and speak to your school or college advisor if you have one. 

Think creatively.  Try not to get into a binary ‘everyone else has succeeded and I have failed’ mindset. This is about options. There are over 150 Higher Education Institutions in the UK offering over 30,000 courses. Chances are there is something out there for you. Get on the phone, sell yourself and talk your way in. 

The appeals process for grades is a little different this year, and your school or college should have let you know how to go about having grades checked or how to appeal them to the Board. Do bear in mind that your TAGs are by no means the end of the road; you can sit exams in the Autumn.  If taking a gap year is an option, then resitting and reapplying could be the right route for you.  

There are over 150 Higher Education Institutions in the UK offering over 30,000 courses.  Chances are there is something out there for you. Get on the phone, sell yourself and talk your way in. 

ADVICE FOR PARENTS

Now might not be the time to micromanage your child’s application (it never was, in fact). You might be paying the bills, but Higher Education institutions deal with students rather than their parents. (They are also not keen to hear from schools at this point.)  You are helping your child navigate the road to adulthood, and that is, as we know all too well, sometimes a bumpy one.  

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Make sure your child can access a phone and email, and be on hand to advise and offer support and food. Who knows? Your child may be open to a hug or other signs of love, too.

Now is also not the time to rake over how the results might have been different had your child worked harder, spent less time on social media, etc.  Could I also suggest that you resist any temptation to blame individual teachers or going along with the ‘I know Ms X never liked me’ train of thought?  Seeing you be rational, calm, pragmatic and above all kind is the best lesson you could give at this point. 

I hope that you will feel able to celebrate this week, and I wish you all the very best. Whatever the coming days hold, remember: you’ve got this.  

Helen Pike is the Master at Magdalen College School, Oxford, one of the top independent day schools in the UK .

The post Bad exam results? Here’s what to do next appeared first on Bucks & Oxon.

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