Some timely advice for GCSE results day

Today’s guest blogger is James Madine, CEO of Progress Schools who passes on his advice to students who are awaiting their GCSE results this Thursday and reminds students that we never stop learning.

What would you say to your former 18-year-old self when it comes to A-level/BTEC results day?

This is the beginning. At 18, you have only just started your journey into adulthood. Aspire to be a good person first and foremost. Challenge yourself at each stage to ensure that you continue to evolve your thinking. Drown out all of the noise around you. Have one true critical friend who will push you to your boundaries but most of all, be true to who you are and be respectful of those who don’t agree with you. You must be resilient to what life will throw at you.


What would you say to your former 16-year-old self when it comes to GCSE results day?

Well done. You’ve made it this far but this isn’t even the beginning yet. Just continue to use all of your senses, with listening being the most important, and just keep pushing ahead taking a day at a time. Don’t worry too much about the months and years ahead, the time to worry about that will come soon enough.


How did you celebrate your results/that moment?

Celebrated with all of my friends who had been on the same journey. It’s important to recognise that you’ve been on a journey with many of your peers so regardless of whether you’ve done well, or not so well, you’ve still put in the hours and you need to celebrate that in itself!


Piece of advice you’d give?

Education is very different to different people – and rightly so. For some, they are academics and aspire to university whilst others are more practical and vocational. Whatever your post-16 education looks like, make sure it’s suited to what will get the most out of you and then above all else, value it. Too many take a quality education for granted. Time goes so quickly so make sure that you maximise it to best equip you for what you want to achieve in life. Have a vision, an aspiration and always refer back to it. This will keep you focused on maximising your full potential in whatever field that may be.


Advice you wish you’d known

Education doesn’t stop at any stage. Deep into adulthood and into your career, you never stop learning. University should be held to high esteem as a pathway to many careers but it is no better and no worse than any BTEC or vocational pathway. The point is that there are many different models and pathways to get into many careers, with even teaching being one of them and rightly so! Ensure that you fully research all of the different pathways available before committing to one or another.


Tips for parents of how best to support a teen on results day

Reassure and praise your child regardless of their results. If they have done well, congratulate and praise but also ensure that you keep them grounded. If they have not done so well, reassure them that you will support them to find their next pathway and that these results won’t define them.


How did you find your career route? Did you follow a straight path or go your own way?

I followed a straight path from GCSEs to A-Levels at sixth form to my degree at University and then PGCE. However, it was only then that I realised that there were so many other routes and pathways open to me had I have been more aware. I knew that I wanted to teach but not necessarily within mainstream – now I explored how to teach the most vulnerable and challenged.


The most important thing to remember on results day?

Control the controllable – Did I do my very best in preparing for the exam? If yes, then don’t worry, what more could you have done? If no, then make sure that you don’t repeat the mistake next time. You can’t control what questions you are asked in an exam, what the grading criteria is or even how the exams are marked – you can only control on whether you have tried your best or not. Everything else is immaterial.

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