On Tuesday, young people up and down the country received their A-Level results, with GCSE and BTEC students getting theirs on Thursday.
Results day has always been a very stressful one. I’m sure every adult reading this remembers that feeling of peeling back the top of the envelope and feverishly scanning the piece of paper dotted with grades. Although, of course, these batch of results will feel very different for this cohort of students.
The last year and a half has been unlike any other, and the impact that it has had on young people can’t really be overstated. At the beginning of the pandemic, students had to adapt quickly to home learning and faced a chaotic Government response that exacerbated stress rather than relieved it. They had to deal with the now-scrapped algorithm, student appeals, Government U-turns and very poor communication the whole way through. It’s fair to say that students and young people have been let-down by the Conservative response to education disruption, and I’m so frustrated that a year and a half later students are still not being given the clarity they deserve.
This year, a combination of mock exams, coursework, and in-class assessments will be used to enable staff to make decisions on pupils’ grades.
This system is obviously not perfect, and that’s why we need to urgently see the Government outlining how it will ensure that this year’s cohort won’t face long-term disadvantage due to a situation that was entirely out of their hands. I want to see the Government work with universities and employers to ensure youngsters can move on after receiving their grades. I also want to see a proper appeals system in place that allows those who believe their grades are inaccurate to be given a fair hearing.
Amongst the policy decisions, political wrangling and incompetence, it can be easy to lose sight of what a massive achievement it will be for our young people to receive these grades. I want to take a moment just to say well done to students in Tameside. Whatever happens on the day, you have faced an unprecedented crisis that none of your parents or carers had to face when they were younger and should feel so proud of yourself.
You aren’t defined by your results, and if the day doesn’t live up to your expectations don’t despair. Life is about a whole lot more than grades, and there are many paths – both academic and vocational – that can lead to success and happiness.
So, my message for young people today is simple; well done, good luck, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.