A level results day – five things parents cannot do

A level results book shelf

As the parents of an A level student you will have faced your share of exam seasons and results days already. Your experience may have been pleasant and your child may have been delighted with their results, in which case you could just join in with the celebrations. If your experience of results day was a little less positive, you will have already had a lot of practice of picking up the pieces and mopping up the tears.

This results day is different. This is the one that REALLY matters because it determines whether the student will gain a place at their chosen university or whether they have to adopt a new route. If they have their heart set on a particular path, it can be very painful to witness their disappointment.

Thankfully, there is a raft of excellent advice provided by websites and social media feeds set up by organisations like UCAS. There is already a great deal of excellent advice out there on what parents can do to help and I don’t want to duplicate this. Instead, I want to give a brief insight into what you cannot do. This is probably just as important – at this stage of our children’s lives we need to recognise our limitations.

A level results champagne

Five things parents cannot do on A level results day

1.       Make it all okay. This was our job wasn’t it? We liked to control the environment in which our children existed, deftly removing anything that threatened to hurt or upset them. Those days are in the dim and distant past. The results are outside of your control. An A* is an A* and a U is a U. As a parent you are not able to change that. If your child, or their teachers, feel that the grade that they have been awarded is an error, then you may have a role to play. Only a school/college (examination centre) can make an enquiry about an exam but you can go with your child to speak to the school and you can pay the fee for them.

2.       Brush it under the carpet. This situation cannot be approached in the same way as a tumble off a scooter. You can’t kiss it better and encourage them to forget about it. Someone has to DO something. Hopefully, you have raised a supremely resilient young adult who will brush off the transient disappointment and forge ahead to bigger and better things. Or, like me, you have raised normal human beings complete with vulnerabilities and insecurities and you can hold their hand whilst they sob for three hours. Then, you can hand them a tissue and let them construct a plan.

3.       Be in control. It is highly unlikely that you have the necessary skills and experience to give them the best advice on results day. You must call in the professionals. That may be a UCAS adviser on the phone, a university admissions tutor or the staff at their examination centre. Schools and colleges are very slick at this. They are the experts so let them do their thing. Some very big decisions may have to be made around this time so make sure that you are available should your opinion or practical support be needed.

4.       Give in to your emotions. Yes, the results may be bad but it really is not the end of the world. It simply offers a different set of opportunities – it may turn out for the best. If you start acting as if the sky has just caved in that will not help. It also doesn’t help if you mention the fact that they didn’t do enough work/went out too often/didn’t take it seriously even if that is true. What’s done is done. A cool head is needed. Bite your tongue.

5.        Run away. This is tempting because you are definitely just the support crew and not the main act. However, your presence will be much appreciated and your support will be valued. Take a day off work ( or get someone to look after younger siblings) and think of yourself as the St Johns ambulance at a rock concert – no-one wants to be in a situation where they need you but they like to know that you’re there!

My final thought is this – enjoy the day if you can. It is a big milestone and some life changing things are going to happen. It is hugely exciting. Do what you need to do and then open a bottle of bubbly because whatever the results, at least it’s all over!

A level results fly


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  2 comments for “A level results day – five things parents cannot do

  1. August 16, 2016 at 5:50 am

    I love this post! It really is very helpful and I need to remember to come back to it in three years’ time – and maybe next year after my son’s GCSEs too. Thanks.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…The dream come trueMy Profile

    • August 24, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks Sarah, hope it’s helped some mums who are balancing the ‘being there’ whilst trying not to ‘be in the way’ situation!! XX

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