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Exam Results - Am I Good Enough?

View profile for Liz Headley
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Well today is the day that A Level students will find out whether they have attained the required grades to progress on their chosen path, next Thursday GCSE students will face the same situation. There will no doubt be tears, tantrums and celebrations and that’s just the parents! 

On a serious note though, I have worked with too many Year 11, 12 and 13 students recently who are having anxiety problems to the degree that some of them have experienced panic attacks. Without diminishing the importance of academic achievement maybe in some families it is too much of a priority and any perceived ‘failure’ e.g. a Grade B instead of an A* is given too much emphasis.  Let’s not forget to celebrate the reality rather than dwelling on the ‘what might have beens’. 

Some parents are often keen to project their unfulfilled ambitions on to their children, wanting them to achieve all the things that they didn’t and this puts the children under a huge strain in addition to the pressure exerted on them by the school.  I would concur with some advice for parents given out on the radio this morning; don’t compare your child’s results with any of their contemporaries, don’t condemn them for not achieving a predicted grade and remember there are always alternatives. Most students will do a pretty good job of beating themselves up and feeling not good enough if they have not got or exceeded expected results so maybe it’s a parent’s job to bring a degree of positivity and optimism into the equation.

If you are a separated parent it’s possibly even more important that you offer your child support and encouragement when they have received their results and that both parents are focusing on the child rather than entering into some sort of blame game about why their child didn’t do as well as they wanted him or her to do.  If parents have recently separated it may well have impacted on the child in terms of their emotional wellbeing and engagement with scholarly activities and parents need to be sympathetic towards this. If parental separation was a while ago but acrimony still exists between ex partners, this too can have a negative effect on academic achievement.  Also, as previously mentioned, exam success takes more precedence in some families than in others so if parental expectation in this context conflicts with each other, this can be confusing for a child too. 

If separated parents can both agree to encourage and support the child in a similar way no matter what the outcome of their A Levels or GCSEs, then the child will learn that they are not a failure and that they are good enough which can only increase their self worth and provide a positive life lesson that they can take into adulthood.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please do contact me at