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Leave the young people a little time to celebrate their achievements…

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So, here we are again at the start of another summer break (though I do think that someone forgot to tell the great British weather that the summer is actually here). We are only weeks away from this year’s young adults receiving their A Level and GCSE results and already the defamation of their achievements has begun everywhere I look.

Whilst I do agree that we need to return to pre-pandemic values to ensure that the worth of each grade and the rigour with which they are seen is retained in the long term, can we not allow this years young people to celebrate their achievements before we begin to tell them that ‘even though the quality of student work is slightly weaker at a national level … results will be as similar as possible to those of 2019’.

This totally devalues the significant effort that the students have put in and that the education sector staff have invested in our current Year 13 and Year 11 learners to support them in the lead up to their exams. Whilst within the sector no one is saying that we do not continue to have a Covid legacy, and will for many years to come, in many of the ways that children and young people present themselves, we must recognise that these young people have displayed incredible resilience to come through the last few years and apply themselves to their examinations.

In almost every discussion I have with sector leaders, they reflect the positive changes  and challenges that the covid legacy continues to bring but they also reflect their positivity for the generation of learners affected. They reflect the increased number of young people showing an interest in Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships. They reflect the increasing levels of engagement in wider curricular activities that students are beginning to show again. They reflect the flexibility staff (teachers and support) are demonstrating to tackle challenges that we have not encountered before.  All this discussion fills me with optimism and then I read a press release that makes every effort to return me to the negativity that is always rife at this time of year.

I also reflect on a discussion I have recently had with my dearest friend about my ‘nieces’ (well not really my nieces but I consider them so) who have sat their GCSE exams this summer.  They are waiting with anticipation for their results to enable them (twin girls) to move on to College to study a Level 3 Health and Social care qualification.  However, my friend asked me this week ‘with all this talk about grades going back to 2019 levels, I am really concerned that as they missed so much of their formative education what will happen if they don’t get enough to get on the course?’. This was heartbreaking as my dear friend is genuinely concerned. She recognised, as an interested parent, the impact of Covid on their education when they were in Year 8 and Year 9 and had read all the emerging articles.  My reply was straight forward, they’ll be fine. They are confident, kind, hardworking and articulate young women who have their whole life ahead of them. Celebrate these elements of their character and their results whatever they are and then look at the next steps.

Wise words I hear you cry…if only I had been so wise when my boys were waiting for their examination results! It may have caused me far less sleepless nights.  Lesson learned.

Sarah Young, Young +

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