Preparing for GCSE Results Day - how can I help my child?
Waiting for GCSE results can be a nerve-wracking time for your teen. It may feel particularly stressful this year with uncertainties over how grades will be awarded and what this means for your child's next steps. It can also be a stressful time for you too. In this article we explain what happens on GCSE results day, what your teen's options are and what they can do if they haven't done as well as they had hoped.
When is GCSE results day 2021?
Thursday 12th August 2021 (England and Wales)
When is GCSE results day 2022?
GCSE results day is usually the third Thursday in August. In 2021, this date was brought forward to the second week in August to provide more time for students to action options. Given their grades were awarded through assessment rather than examinations, some students might have got better grades than expected and so wanted to pursue different choices that might otherwise have not been available to them; or some students may not have scored as well as they’d hoped and needed time to challenge the results. It has not yet been decided how GCSE grades will be awarded in 2022, and so GCSE results day 2022 has yet to be confirmed. We will continue to update this as we learn more.
How are results collected?
Results are available from school as early as 08.00 am (collection time will vary depending on your child's school). Depending on the school, there may be different secure options to collect results, such as by telephone or via the parent portal. Check with the school to ensure you know what options are available.
What is the new grading system?
In 2017, the previous A* to G system was replaced with a numerical system, ranging from 9 (highest) to 1 (lowest). Although the new grading scale is not directly equivalent to the old system (A* - E), there are some comparable points.
The top three number grades, 9, 8 and 7, are broadly equivalent to the grades of A* and A from the old system. This is designed to give more differentiation at the top end and provide an opportunity to reward exceptional performance.
There are now two pass marks - 4 is a standard pass and 5 is a strong pass. Grade 4 is the minimum level that students must achieve in English and Maths without needing to retake them post 16.
Who should I speak to if I need help on the day?
Exam results day can be an anxious time for you and your teen. Make sure you know who to contact at your child's school or college for advice and support if results do not go as planned.
The Exam Results Helpline is also available and can be used to access free support from trained careers advisors usually from 9am on the day of results - 0800 100 900.
What if my child doesn't do as well as hoped?
GCSE results day is a good point to reflect and think over future options with your child. If they haven't done as well as they had hoped, be reassuring and supportive and try not to get angry, disappointed and frustrated – especially if it is a case of “I told you so”! There are usually alternatives and a positive approach offers a faster route to finding happy solutions.
Low grades do not mean they cannot study their chosen subject at sixth form. There may be an option to retake the GCSE, or commence the sixth form subject without a retake. However, in some cases, GCSE results are a strong indicator of future performance and it may not be wise to pursue a subject for which they do not have a natural aptitude; choosing an alternative subject might be a better option. Speak to their school teachers and get advice about next steps.
Possible options if they don’t do well at GCSE:
Speak with their chosen place of study. Will they accept them even though they have not met minimum standards? Its worth asking - they may say yes so long as your child commits to some additional work
Retake failed subjects
Do similar sixth form studies somewhere different without having to retake
Do an internship, traineeship or volunteer placement to obtain and be able to prove that they have skills needed to continue further studies
Start an apprenticeship
Dealing with stress and anxiety:
In the lead up to results day, you can help manage your teen's stress and nerves by following these useful tips:
Keep calm, let them know you love them and be available to talk when they are ready to
Try to distract them by planning activities that keep them busy and help them to relax. Planning a movie night, getting them to help prepare dinner or going out for a walk or to the local shopping centre are good starting points
Create a calm environment at home by playing music that encourages the body to relax
Teach your teen some breathing techniques. Simply breathing in through the nose for five seconds and then out through the mouth for five seconds can help restore balance and make your child feel calmer
Everyone experiences stress from time to time and short bouts are not harmful. However, in some cases there can be times when stress and anxiety reaches exceptional levels and professional support is required. There’s a range of professional options available including:
Teachers at school – both in an academic capacity to help understand subjects better, as tutors to help create better ways of working outside school and pastoral experts who can help with emotional issues
Some schools have an independent counsellor available with whom your children can talk in confidence (i.e. they will not relay the information to the school)
Peer support networks – these can be very helpful as speaking to someone of a similar age can sometimes feel easier than speaking to an adult, or speaking to someone just slightly older, who has more recently been through a similar experience can be very reassuring
Charities – most now offer both online and telephone support. This anonymity (i.e. not being face-to-face) can make talking over problems and worries easier
To learn more about how you can support your child in making the right choices in Year 11, you may be interested in The Parents' Guide to Post 16 options.