Headteacher's advice ahead of results day

The head at a local independent day and boarding school has shared some home truths ahead of GCSE and A-level results day this year.

The rite of passage of sitting GCSEs or A levels and all of the associated ups and downs, has once again been impacted this year, and students face yet another period of worry this summer as results day looms. 

A girl on GCSE results day

Whilst most schools have been very good at preparing their pupils and teachers for the TAG (Teacher Assessed Grades) process, it has been a year of uncertainty and Headteacher at St Margaret’s School in Hertfordshire, Lara Péchard, has shared some useful advice with local parents to help them to prepare for the coming weeks as she recognises that 2021 has been another difficult year for young learners.

She commented: “Once again our children have been stripped of their opportunity to sit exams, not to mention to experience the personal satisfaction and growth that comes with such achievement. For many, their learning experiences over recent months will have been tarnished too.  This is certainly the case for science where students have not been able conduct science experiments and also creative arts like drama, where students have been unable to undertake theatrical drama performances.  This is perhaps the most saddening thing as many will have lost enthusiasm for their future paths and may have lost energy.”

Ms Péchard warned that although this has been a tough year for many, now is the time for students to do all of the things they love and have missed, catch up with friends and family, enjoy the outdoors, immerse themselves in activities, reset aspirations and re-evaluate their priorities.

She added: “At this point in time, I would urge students and parents to squeeze as much information and support out of their school as possible, in particular, insight around careers advice.  If they know what they are studying at A level or University, then get gently preparing and reading.   Trust the process that your school has put in place, try not to worry and channel any anxieties into something productive that will help you for the next stage.”

Ms Péchard also urged parents to encourage their child to see this as a week or two out of a long summer and to reach out for support if they need help.  She also highlighted that parents should try to dissuade their child from getting involved in ‘online worst-case scenario chatter’.

In preparation for results day, Péchard says families should keep talking and set time aside.

She said: “Eat together as a family and do things in real life, away from the virtual world.  Parents might want to take a few days off work if that is possible.  Encourage an early night before the big day so you are raring to go that morning.  Be prepared, clear on the time that the results are released in schools and come into school so staff can help and support. Parents should try to focus on the hard work and offer support rather than focus on grades or the disruption of this last year.  Keep the attention on the excitement of what is coming – results are about the future.”

For some, results day might hold disappointment and for others, it will be perfect.  Ms Péchard shares some tips below to prepare for either situation:

If results day is disappointing:

• Steer your child towards a practical rather than emotional response if you can.

• Make sure you come into school so staff can advise you. Together you can forge a plan and move forward.  This year there are processes for appeals or internal enquiries although they are different to normal.  

• Your child might want to talk through their future choices with their Head of Year or a teacher, encourage them to bottom-out their questions and to lead on this. Talk about the possibilities to demonstrate there is always a way through these outcomes.

• Parents in this moment have to be a splendid mix of supporter (ready with hugs but also allow their child to take personal responsibility) and of course serve as taxi driver!

• Don’t forget to celebrate what has gone well, this is an important day so try to find the light in the tunnel.

If results day is spot on:

• Even if your results are perfect, still come into school and speak with staff, celebrate your hard work and achievement, it can help add to a sense of achievement which has been missing this last year.

• Then come together with loved ones to mark this time (even if there are decisions still to make), it is a special point in your child’s life and we will all have to work harder this year to make it feel special.