Students throughout Leeds and Manchester are picking up their GCSE results today. Grades have been determined by teachers after a second year of exams being disrupted due to the pandemic and it’s expected that results will be higher than usual, as was the case when A Level results were released on Tuesday.
This may mean that places for sixth form colleges, further education colleges and universities may be more competitive this year and Leeds University is already offering £10k and free housing to some students who choose to defer following a high demand for their courses this year.
So what happens if you don’t get the place you want, or if your grades just weren’t what you expected.
- Don’t panic!
It may seem easy to say but trust me – the author of this blog post actually failed all of her exams and eventually went on to University and to become a head teacher – so not all is lost! In fact, plenty of people go on to have extremely rewarding careers and future opportunities following poor exam results, so even if you just missed out by a few points, it’s not the end of the world. Some of us are late starters and excel in adult education, some of us need a setback to find our resilience and some of us just need to retake an exam or two… and in the end know that their determination and hard work made it all the more worthwhile!
Whether you have taken GCSEs, A Levels or any other type of qualification, you have the right to appeal. In the first instance, appeal to your school. Speak to your teacher about this – the school will have a published appeals process that you can follow. If you are unsuccessful, then you can appeal to the exam board and finally to Ofqal who can review your grades. Again, appeals processes should be published on their websites.
Let your chosen college or university know that you are appealing. They may keep your place open. If not, you have the option to defer or take up a place at another college, sixth form or university.
You always have the option to defer your options for a year and retake your examinations/ course. These don’t have to be retaken at the same school or college. You can usually apply for sixth form college or an FE college to retake any GCSEs or A Levels and a change of environment and teaching style might be just what you need. If you don’t feel the need to do the whole course, speak to the exam board – there may be an exam centre close by where you can take an examination.
- Consider alternatives
Did you know that GCSEs and A Levels aren’t your only options? You could consider an Apprenticeship, BTEC National Diploma, Open University Foundation course…. there are many, many more non-traditional routes, so if exams are not for you or the style of teaching at a school doesn’t suit your personality, explore your options. A good careers advisor will be able to go through these with you or search online for alternatives.
- Consider a gap year
If you are unsure about what you want to do with your future and just need some time out to decide, then consider taking a gap year to work, travel or volunteer. If you are under 18 you may need to remain enrolled in some type of programme so think about an Apprenticeship so you can earn whilst you learn or consider volunteering with the National Citizen Service which is open to all 15-17 year olds and teaches you a wide range of skills that future employers may value.
Whatever you decide to do, the future is in your hands – make the most of the situation you find yourself in and go out and create new opportunities for yourself. Good luck!!!