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What to do if your child doesn’t get the results they want for GCSEs and A-levels

PUBLISHED: 15:47 12 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:04 13 August 2020

Students have the option of sitting an exam in the autumn if they wish. File picture: PA WIRE/RUI VIEIRA

Students have the option of sitting an exam in the autumn if they wish. File picture: PA WIRE/RUI VIEIRA

Students receiving GCSE and A-level results which they are not satisfied with have been urged not to panic this summer.

Suffolk County Council assistant director for education and learning, Adrian Orr, said students who don't get the grades they want should not panic and have a conversation with their school and the college or university they are hoping to move on to. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILSuffolk County Council assistant director for education and learning, Adrian Orr, said students who don't get the grades they want should not panic and have a conversation with their school and the college or university they are hoping to move on to. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

The coronavirus-enforced cancellation of exams has meant results are calculated from a mix of teacher grades and “standardisation” measures this year, while the government on Tuesday night confirmed grades would not be lower than pupils’ mock exam results.

MORE: How results are calculated this year and what it means for students

It is anticipated that there may already be an increase in students who receive final grades lower than their teacher’s grade, or results which aren’t as strong as they hoped.

But education chiefs in Suffolk have urged youngsters not to panic if they miss out on the grades they need.

Adrian Orr, assistant director for education and learning at Suffolk County Council said: “The first thing to do is to not panic.

The University of Suffolk will be offering courses via Clearing as usual. Picture: GREGG BROWNThe University of Suffolk will be offering courses via Clearing as usual. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“The second is to have a conversation with your school or provider, but most importantly it is to have a conversation with the institution you are hoping to go on to, whether that is a sixth form, university or FE college, and I think this year those admission arrangements will be slightly different.

“Don’t panic and not ring, but actually make contact with the college of university. The worst thing you can do is panic and not do anything.”

There are a range of options available for students who don’t get the grades they need to progress to their chosen university, sixth form, or college. We outline some of the key ones below.

Speak to the institution

It is anticipated that many universities, sixth forms and colleges will show a greater degree of flexibility this year in acknowledgement of the fact that results will be out of students’ hands.

Some may be able to take students who don’t meet the conditions of their offer, although it is likely to be dependent on the demand for those courses.

Students who don’t get the grades they need should still call their chosen university or college as a first port of call to establish if they can be let in on the grades they get.

Being able to demonstrate the teacher assessment part of the grade may be enough in some cases to be accepted on the preferred course.

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Take exams in the autumn

Although students this year have not sat exams, the option of sitting an exam paper this autumn is available and is technically known as a resit.

Those are likely to be late October for A-levels and early November for GCSEs.

Students who take those exams but don’t get as good a grade as what they get this summer can still keep this summer’s grade, so can effectively choose the best grade out of the two.

Suffolk County Council’s education team said it is anticipating a high number of students wanting to take an exam this year – particularly those who were on the borderlines of grades and missed out.

Defer entry for a year

Where a university or college is not able to take a student who doesn’t make their grade, taking the resits and deferring their university or college entry by a year may be an option.

That can give students time to resit exams and get the better grades they need and still be able to go to their first choice, albeit a year later.

However, this will be up to the institution to decide with the students, and may not be available in all cases.

Clearing

The usual process of clearing where universities offer places at courses which are not fully subscribed will take place, meaning students who miss out on their original choices can find alternative courses or the same subject course at a different university.

Again, students should have a conversation with their first choice university to find out if they can be accepted before pursuing clearing, and universities have helplines available to talk students through applying through clearing.


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