Today (25/08/2022) is GCSE results’ day in England and Wales. Hundreds of thousands of students have been anxiously waiting to find out what they got.

Many will be over the moon and their grades exceeded their expectations. I don’t just mean all 9s. These things are relative. For some, a 6 in English Language might be the best news ever. Many will be satisfied. Similarly many will be upset with disappointing grades. Everyone will be somewhere on that continuum!

Grade boundaries

The last two Covid years have seen students assessed by their teachers, rather than sitting exams. And, of course, this year’s cohort had an interrupted GCSE education. Grade boundaries this year were inevitably harsher than the previous years as the Government seeks to return to pre-covid levels and were pitched to be somewhere between 2019 (the last public exam series) and 2020 (with centre-assessed grades). Any comparisons to previous years could easily lead to feeling underwhelmed with otherwise good results.

What to do if the results were disappointing?

The first thing to do is pause. Don’t rush into any decisions or judgements. A lower than hoped-for grade might sting initially so don’t react emotionally. Once you’ve sat with it, get in touch with your teachers and see what they suggest.

In some cases it will be right to appeal or query an outcome and they will guide that process.

If the result is a fail in a subject, especially in English or Maths, your school or destination college will talk through the resit processes where appropriate.

It might be that a result has led you to rethink your A Level choices. Again, talk this through with your teachers. The last couple of years have been exceptional and it might be that the grades don’t reflect your capability.

Supporting your child with upsetting results

In the first Covid year, we talked to Dr Dominique Thompson, author of the best-selling ‘How to Grow a Grown Up’ to get her expert views of supporting a child if they were upset by their results.

You can read that full article here.

Her advice still applies to this year’s cohort and in summary:

Avoid catastrophising the impact

A poor GCSE result can go very quickly to the worst-case scenario. As a parent you need to help them see that it isn’t.

Don’t react impulsively

Try to remain collected rather than leaping to decisions. This is where talking with teachers will really help.

Dom’s 7 steps to support

  1. Don’t dismiss their reality
  2. Don’t rush in to fix things
  3. Give them space to process
  4. Find out what outcome they want
  5. Sympathise and empathise
  6. Be obviously available and open
  7. Stay informed and seek expert advice

If you’d like to find out more, why not take a listen to Dominique on our Podcast? There she talks frankly about anxiety in teens, perfectionism and the fear of failure.