Today should have been a day of celebration for many 18-year-olds getting their A level results. In fact it turned out to be a day of discussion and debate about the efficacy of a system that has been introduced to grade students when Covid-19 meant they were unable to take exams. I am sure we all know parents and families left shocked and dismayed by the outcome for their children.
I am not going to go into the detail of the system introduced. To start with I am not really clear how it works, or how students that feel they have been disadvantaged can challenge the outcome. As a crisis communicator I am concerned that the details came just hours before the results were released, there are lots of unanswered questions and analysis shows that public schools appear to benefit at the expense of further education and sixth forms.
This morning I remembered quite clearly the shock, horror, stress and tears that came when I picked up my A-level results. Unlike the students today, my results were not my finest hour and that was down to my lack of focus. At 18 there were too many interesting distractions that took me away from my studies. I did get three A-level passes but not enough to do what I had my heart set on. Instead, I ended up studying philosophy for three years and staying closer to home to do it.
It was the best thing that could have happened. In staying close to home I was able to save to do my postgraduate course in journalism, which was always the ultimate aim I had. I got to study a subject that still fascinates me to this day. My mind was opened to a world of pre-Socratic philosophers (well worth reading) through to logic and Bertrand Russell. I had the chance to write an essay comparing apples and oranges (it was a late night essay writing experience). It opened my mind and challenged me.
All that happened 31 years ago today. If I had the chance to speak to my 18-year-old self I would say don’t worry, keep focused on what you want to do, with commitment and determination you will get there. It is what I would say to any A-level students today.
If there are any students who want to speak about a career in PR or communication get in touch and I will try to help.
Interesting to hear about your experience, and it goes to show that exam results don’t determine everything, and we can still live very happy and successful lives via other routes. I think that the way so many students have been downgraded though is outrageous.