Its that time of year again when year 11s are pondering their future as they move from one stage of their education to another.
Tomorrow’s GCSE results will mark a major milestone in the lives of 16 year olds who will have to decide whether to go on to do A-Levels, vocational courses or apprenticeships.
Since the raising of the school leaving age, which requires pupils to remain in education, employment or training until they are 18, the range of options have grown.
For those who don’t get the grades they expected the advice is clear, “There are plenty of other routes to follow your dreams.”
Ian Fazackerley, is head of school liaison at Preston’s College and Level Seven qualified careers advisor.
He says: “If you’re collecting your GCSE results tomorrow, you’ll be faced with one of three outcomes;
•You achieve your target grades
Firstly, well done - your next step is relatively straight forward if you have a conditional offer with a local college or sixth form.
Simply visit the learning institution you applied to and follow their enrolment procedure.
•You do better than expected:
If your results are better than expected, congratulations. But, don’t forget that results day is not the end of your journey but the beginning of your next adventure.
Again, you have the opportunity to enrol onto your conditional place at college.
However, having gained better grades, more possibilities may be available to you such as a Level Three qualification versus a Level Two qualification.
Be sure to seek some expert guidance before making any final decisions.
•You do worse than expected
If you do worse than expected, don’t panic. Whatever your grades, there are opportunities available to you and it is important that you consider all such options before making any final decisions.
It may be that you can still study the course you want, or you may be able to start at a lower level and work your way up.
You can even look at a completely different course that may be better suited to your skills.
For those young people who may be still unsure about what post 16 route to follow, again, don’t panic.
Speak to the people who know you the best, your teachers and family members. Also, seek advice from qualified careers advisers, who should be available at every post 16 institution. They will be able to talk through the options available to you.
After leaving school you have the option to enter vocational/technical, apprenticeship or academic study routes.
Be sure to find out as much you can about all your options before making a final decision.
Ian also had words of advice for parents and says: “ Parents often find results day particularly stressful.
However, it’s important to remain supportive regardless of your child’s results to help them make an informed decision about their next step.
“Accompanying them to enrolment days and learning about progression routes can help them feel confident in their decisions. Regardless of results, there will always be a course available to your son or daughter.”
He adds: “The new grading system can also cause confusion, as most parents are used to the A*- E system, but don’t panic.
The new system will be graded from nine down to one and there is information available online to help you understand the changes.
“Remember, Preston and the surrounding area has a wide range of excellent 16-19 learning providers and there will always be an option available to your son or daughter whatever the results they have achieved.
A spokesman for Runshaw College adds: “The advice from all corners is to not panic if you don’t achieve the levels you were hoping for.
“Take a step back, think about where you might see yourself in three to five years time and try to choose the path that will get you there, a path where you will enjoy the teaching and learning and assessment, and crucially please don’t forget to talk to your college, go in and see them, face to face is the best way,”
Runshaw College in Leyland will be open from 9am -7pm on Thursday and 9am-4pm on Friday– 01772 643000.
Anyone who wants to apply after that will need to email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form.
You can enrol at Preston’s College from 9.30am – 5pm on Thursday 23 August or 9.30am – 4.30pm on Friday 24 August. You can speak to the College’s advice centre directly on 01772 225522.
Charlotte Lowe is a trained counsellor and has this advice: “ I can imagine there have been a lot of sleepless nights for many young people.
“If you do not receive the exam results you’d hoped for it is important not to panic or worry too much about the future.
“When we feel upset we cannot think straight, therefore it is vital not to make any big decisions when you are feeling emotional.
“Although you may find it difficult to see this now, there are many options still available so you need to speak to someone about these when you are feeling more calm.
Try not to be too hard on yourself and give yourself at least a few days break from thinking about exams- spend time doing things you find relaxing, have fun and do things you enjoy, spending time with those people who make you feel good.
Although they are extremely difficult, GCSE’s are just a part of life that you will get through and your results do not reflect on who you are as a person.
Try to remember that and give yourself a break if you are not happy with the results you’ve received.”