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Help! My teenager has just crashed and burned in their exams

Careers Tutor Exam

You may already have a sinking feeling that your son or daughter has not done as well as hoped for in their impending exam results.  A level results are out soon and this can be a very stressful time for all.

Your child may have a sixth form place hinging on whether they have the requisite GCSE grades or a university or school leaver programme place may be dependent upon what’s in that A Level or Btec envelope.

You have options:

1. You can all bury your heads in the sand and hope that it will all be ok

2. You can hope that you can make a last minute plea to the school, college, company or university to allow your kid in.

Both these scenarios are a recipe for family argument, banging doors and tense conversation so I recommend that you take a moment to think about and discuss ‘Plan B’.

For GCSE students who don’t get back into their school sixth form

You may want your child to continue at a school with which you are familiar and they are comfortable however A levels are a huge step up form GCSEs and really don’t suit a lot of our young people. Your local FE college will offer a range of alternative qualifications which can still keep options open for higher level study if that is what your child wants. An Extended Btec is worth 3 A levels and gives access to many university courses and Higher level Apprenticeships.  The learning style is different to A levels and students are assessed in a more continuous and practical way than the exam-driven A level.

Register with a college NOW as this at least gives your son or daughter and option in September. They are very used to accepting students who have to make last minute plans but courses fill up.

Your son or daughter must be in education or training until they are 18 so an apprenticeship may suit some as it will include qualifications. Finding an opportunity is not always an easy process and you may need to be a bit patient but the best starting place is www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

For Year 12 students who have very low end of year grades

If there has been very good reason for why your son or daughter has not done well (illness, impactful family circumstance etc) you may be able to negotiate for them to start again in Year 12. This isn’t an easy option and many young people feel a sense of failure with this scenario so the option of moving elsewhere (see above) may be a healthier choice.

Many young people simply have enough of formal eduction. They may return to it later on but it can be a motivating option for some to leave school at the end of Year 12 and start an Apprenticeship. All apprenticeships include qualifications and this change of environment may be the catalyst for striving towards a goal.

Many university courses are accessible with 2 A Levels so dropping one subject may be the right option if your child’s school allows this. There has been an increase in Foundation Year entry to university; this is a ‘pre-year’ which aims to get the student ready for degree level study. It is preferable to a year or resits for some young people as they get to start university when they expected to. The end result is a full degree so the only real difference is a CV which shows low A level grades.

For A level students who miss their University offers

We’ll use the familiar motto of ‘Be Prepared’. Ensure that your son or daughter is accessing their emails a couple of days before results day as some universities will make contact to honour an offer even if a student misses a grade. On results day; make sure your child gets up early! University clearing telephone lines open very early and many schools and colleges will have staff on the case from 7am. It’s competitive so have phone numbers ready for both the Firm and Insurance offers universities as well as others which offer a very similar course with slightly lower entry requirements. It is the APPLICANT  who needs to make the call – not you, the parent.

University is a costly investment and a course decision mustn’t be made without a lot of thought so a gap year may be the answer. It gives some breathing space, allows for a new application or even resits of exams.

Remember that fate plays its hand  – sometimes we need to ‘fail’ in order to make us realise what is important to us. Don’t fall out with your child but you might just have to stand back and let them work it out for a while; that’s tough I know….

Careers TutorFor more careers advice please contact Vanessa Kenneth at CareersTutor.com

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