How to prepare for your kids' GCSE results
So when the schools closure was announced I felt a mixture of emotions, writes Ian Soars.
For my daughters it was unalloyed joy of course. That is until the eldest realised that the braces she was due to have removed in March would be staying! (poor love only got them off last week).
I felt relief that my daughter would have time to revise, horror that outside the disciplines of school she might not do any revision, confusion because....how can you sit exams if you haven't been in school for months?
Back in March I was immediately made aware of the difficulties many of my friends faced; someone's Son had thrown all their course work away as soon as the exams were cancelled; another family had no space in the house for home schooling....some no garden. Everyone wondered how on earth Teachers did what they do....if we can't motivate our own children to study...how do teachers motivate other people’s children?
We were struggling on with home education and then the exams were cancelled.
Well now it is results day!
Results based on a confusing combination of teacher assessment, coursework, mock grades and statistics.
Again, a mixture of emotions. My daughter should have got good grades but she does work last minute. There is always a risk that this wouldn't pay off...plus...now the results were going to take her mocks into consideration and which student takes those seriously?
So...there was, and still is, a bag of unknowns.
I hope she gets the grades she deserved...she has wrestled so hard for so long with her studies, she deserves the grades. But I have gradually come to the conclusion that for those children whose grades are awarded to them this summer, they will always be known as the "made up" grades allocated on basis of course work, standing in the class, previous results by the school.
How can this be fair?
How can last year’s grades at the school impact my daughter's future? How can course work that when she did it meant little now mean so much? But we all know this...at least it is unfair for everyone.
Let’s be honest, the only children who are going to be happy with this will be those that score unexpectedly high; for every other child there will be an uneasy feeling of "Maybe I could have aced it" or "I just want to know the truth...how was I doing?"
For every child like my daughter who missed their GCSE exams the reality is now that the first time they will sit a real exam is when it really, really means something...their A levels. They will determine what university they go to or job they start or degree they study or pretty much anything. And when they sit them, they will never have felt that pressure before. I suspect many will struggle.
So, as we look towards our daughter’s "A" Levels we are talking through the subjects she will study at length... what this might mean for university or even life afterward. We place no expectation or pressure on her...these conversations are less "what are you going to do with your life" and more "What do you think life has in store for you? And what do we need to do together to prepare for that?". This has led to her feeling more in control and more empowered...and more motivated to start working towards her A levels on her own account.
On the upside I suspect that children who started lock-down in a good place will finish in a good place...perhaps positively marked by the summer holiday of a lifetime...I know that my children are seeing it through that lens. For others less fortunate...well, that’s who Fegans Children's Counselling are here for.
Finally, the following take away has helped me navigate this minefield.
I hope this helps, let me know... Nothing could have prepared us as adults for this tsunami that has washed over our children, let alone them...but even as we remain calm and give them a safe space to explore that list above let’s let go of our anxieties and believe that they will flourish.
About the Author
Ian Soars, father of three, is the CEO of children's counselling charity Fegans and a trained parent support worker.