Life after exams: How vital is academic success?


This year has seen the largest ever year-on-year decline for GCSE results. With grades down to the lowest level since 2008, this is undoubtedly a very worrying time for many teenagers across the country. 

But for any young person that has not received the grades they were aiming for, it is far from the end of the journey. I know this from experience.

Growing up, I struggled to thrive within a traditional classroom environment. My personal disappointment at failing to gain the qualifications I’d hoped for was one of the driving forces behind my idea to develop a college that promotes a different – active – type of learning.

The Military Preparation College has been operating for 17 years now. With 23 centres across England and Wales, the college network has been recognised as Outstanding in all areas by Ofsted for the way in which young people are taught. As an organisation, we take 100% responsibility for the future success of each and every learner, whatever age they join us.

Image removed.Most of the students that come onto our programme haven’t fulfilled their true potential at school. Many come to us following their GCSEs, disillusioned by education and unsure about their future. But time and again, I have seen young people transform their situations, with 86% of our students leaving with a job at the end of their studies with us – a statistic that I am personally very proud of.

The greatest classroom we have is outdoors
We are able to give these young people a second chance by allowing them to learn in a different way. The greatest classroom we have is the great outdoors, so our students are outside at least 50% of each and every day, learning all types of academic subjects in the open air, supported by lessons within classroom environments in the afternoon.

Working very closely with the Armed Forces, we’re able to give young people a real insight into the opportunities, commitment and amount of work that is required to enter the wider workplace – not just the military.

Our curriculum is based around the military’s core values, but these are completely transferrable into all manner of other employment and further education. We are passionate about instilling self-confidence, self-belief and self-discipline, and encouraging 14-19 year olds to be the very best versions of themselves that they can be.

Meeting the challenges of todayImage removed.
There is too much emphasis on academic achievement; it’s not for everybody. Schools need to take responsibility for the holistic approach to developing young people, so that when they finish their studies, they are able to stand up on their own two feet, with the resilience and robustness to be able to meet the challenges of today.

Great emphasis can, and should, be placed on building vital life skills. These are essential to ensuring that teenagers become productive and responsible members of their communities and have a firm purpose for their future.  

For any young person that is currently uncertain about what their future holds in the face of academic disappointment, my advice is simple: keep going, try again, and persevere until you achieve what you need to reach your own personal goals.

Written By Huw Lewis MBE, Founder and Managing Director, MPCT

Huw Lewis MBE is the Founder and Managing Director of the Motivational Preparation College for Training (MPCT), an Ofsted Grade 1 education and training organisation which inspires 14-19 year olds to achieve their full potential. To find out more, visit or follow Huw on Twitter @HuwLewisMBE