Exam results – good or bad – are not the end of the journey
Next week the GCSE and A-Level results will be published, and pupils up and down the country will have a range of emotions from ecstasy to heartbreak, and everything in between.
Pupils of today are under far more pressure to succeed and do well on that one day than in my era.
The emphasis on grades has come more into deep focus for our pupils than ever before.
The pupils collecting their results this coming week must feel they are already fighting an uphill battle, due to the restrictions imposed on them by the pandemic, and how the continual changes and disruptions that must have affected their results.
Online schooling can’t replace a normal classroom environment either academically or socially, exam results are bound to suffer regardless of the pupils' efforts.
I remember ambling up to Herries comprehensive all those years ago to collect my exam results, but mainly to see my friends who I probably hadn’t seen since the end of exams.
Expectations were low back then. The country was experiencing one of its deepest recessions on record.
Calendar or BBC’s Look North weren’t present at my school to record giddy pupils and proud parents celebrating their exam success.
We turned up, got our results and went back home with no ceremony – A and Bs or E and Fs, you weren’t getting a job.
Doing well in exams seemed pretty pointless for many, when many firms and factories were closing daily.
Straight from the classroom to the dole office, what was the point of even trying?
It’s a shame pupils were not given any hope. I've learned over the years that recessions, no matter how bad, don’t last forever.
This could have been a time for pupils to reset, with some breathing space and think about what they would like to do, instead of what they had to do.
Many families would be struggling under this recession and would be looking to their children to go into the world of work and start to pay their way.
College wasn’t always an option, with competition for places very high, options were for some, limited.
After 11 years in education, not all would be keen to carry on in academics.
I remember Youth Opportunity Programme (YOPs) being an alternative for many.
This was deemed a credible route into work by some, to others it was classed as exploitation, cheap labour with no job at the end of your six months’ service.
This was replaced by the Youth Training Scheme which guaranteed training as well as experience.
I remember this scheme while I served in the Armed forces, I remember 17 and 18 year olds working alongside regular service personnel, carrying out the same role for £25 a week with free food and accommodation.
Being a member of the Armed Forces was difficult enough, ’although great’, without doing it for a fraction of the pay.
I hope all the pupils going back to school to collect their results get the results they deserve and worked so hard for.
I hope they realise or someone will tell them that these results don’t define them.
That there's always room for improvement, and changes in direction, their future is still firmly set in front of them.