Thursday, 21 August 2014


For those of you who live in the real world, may I begin by informing you that today is GCSE results day. For thousands of young people, this means a stressful morning, followed by either a happy, or stressful evening.

Today was the day that I got my results. And I have several things to say about GCSEs that certain people really need to hear:

Firstly, the news is hilarious. They spend the week's build up to results day talking about how volatile results are and how many people are expected to fail. And you know what? That sucks. We started those exams about fifteen weeks ago and not one of us can remember exactly how we did. So when the news tells us that students are failing, we have no reason to think that this doesn't apply to us. That's a horrible feeling.

Image sourced from here.

Equally, the news really needs to stop creating dramatic sagas out of GCSE results' day. Some students did some tests and today they found out how well they did. That is it. The drama is neither helpful nor interesting.

But, most importantly, the people who say that GCSEs are easy are so, so wrong. They are not. To do well, you have to work obscenely hard. I went to every single revision session, had revision notes plastered on my bedroom (which I share) walls for months and revised hard every day. I did every practice paper. I even listened to revision tapes in my sleep. That is how people do well. And to say that GCSEs are easy belittles all of that effort. Not to mention the fact that those who don't do well, despite trying so hard, then feel even worse...because if it's easy and they can't do it, what do they amount to?

Image sourced from here.

And then there are GCSEs like Media Studies, which everyone says are so easy and pointless. Well Media Studies was the most difficult subject I have ever studied. It took a ridiculous amount of time and effort and improving was so hard. So anyone who feels that it is okay to belittle such subjects should have a go themselves because I would love to see the results of somebody who is so ignorant.  

It's sad. The whole education system is a sad mess. Because when I stood surrounded by people opening those all important envelopes, I saw so many amazing people. I saw musicians, and artists, and dancers, and writers, and horse-riders, and bike riders, and car-lovers, and athletes. I saw people with incredible skills, life skills, who have the potential to be such incredible people. And yet, the piece of paper didn't recognise any of that. The piece of paper told them how good they were at answering contrived, rehearsed questions. It told them how good they were at saying what the examiner wanted to hear. And sometimes, it said that they were really bad at that. How is that fair? To measure a person's ability based on something so irrelevant.

Image sourced from here.

GCSEs aren't easy. They are not useful. They are not important. They are not valuable. They need to change. But not to be made more difficult. Not to stick exams all in one go. Not to eradicate coursework. Not to change the names of each grade (because of course, giving grades numbers will make such a difference!). But to prepare young people for the real world, where you can't just rehearse an answer and you actually have to know things and have skills.  

To those who collected their results today: If you did well, you should be proud. If you didn't get what you wanted, that's okay: effort is how you should measure you're success, not a letter. GCSEs are nothing more than pieces of paper. And yes, they are important, but only as far as the next step. Nobody should let something that they did when they were just sixteen dictate the rest of their lives.

Image sourced from here.

To the snobs who wish to dismiss everything I've said because 'she probably failed everything': I have fifteen A*s. I am proud, and I have every right to be proud because I achieved those grades for no reason other than because I -and my teachers- worked hard. It is sad that our hard work was for something so pointless. It is even more unfortunate that my teachers spent years training and becoming amazing at their jobs only to be restrained by such an ineffective system. 

The end.

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