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Are you ready for results?

UCASThe lead-up to A level results can be an anxious time for teenagers and there’s not a great deal parents can do to help beforehand apart from being there and staying positive (while keeping everything crossed). Here’s our guide to what happens on the day and what to do if your child’s grades are lower or higher than expected.

When do A level results come out?

Exam boards release results directly to schools and colleges at 6am on Thursday 15th August. Check your child’s school or college opening hours to see when they can collect them in person.

In Scotland, the key date is earlier, on Tuesday 6th August. That’s when the Scottish Qualifications Authority publishes its exam results online and when your child’s certificate arrives in the post. If they registered for MySQA [https://www.sqa.org.uk], they’ll be emailed their results by 9am and they can also collect them from your school or college. Again, check exact opening times.

On the day

Your child will need the following information:

UCAS ID number and log-in details UCAS Clearing number (available on Track and only relevant if they become eligible for Clearing – see below). Clearing phone numbers for universities your child has applied to or is interested in. Universities seldom accept an applicant unless they’ve spoken to them first UCAS personal statement – universities your child applies to may ask questions about it GCSE results – your child could be asked about these Any notes and questions your child has made on universities and courses

If your child is going to their school or college to get their results

Make sure they bring all of the above, along with their mobile phone, a notepad and pen and details of conditional offers. If you are driving them to school, ask whether or not your child wants you to go in with them to collect their results. Since in most cases the answer is likely to be a horrified no, it’s a good idea to have something to distract you from chewing your nails while you wait in the car for a text or for that smiling/worried face to come around the corner. Remember, whether the news is good or not so good, it can all take quite a long time.

If your child will be away on the day

Best avoided if at all possible, particularly if they’ve received any conditional offers or may have to go through . At the very least, try to make sure they can go online to access Track (see below). If they can’t access the internet, they should have nominated a family member to collect their results and given permission for that person to contact UCAS or universities on their behalf.

Grades lower or higher than expected?

If your child has missed their grades by a few marks, it may be worth them talking to the university who may reconsider or offer a similar course. If marks don’t seem right and they risk losing their university place as a result, they should speak to teaching staff about whether an exam review or appeal is appropriate.

Alternatively, they can join the thousands of students going through Clearing. Other options including taking a gap year and reapplying or looking at what apprenticeships might be available in their field of interest. Retaking exams in the hope of obtaining improved grades is also a possibility, but one that needs to be considered carefully.

If your child’s grades are better than expected they can use the UCAS Adjustment Service (see below).

A quick run-down of key terms

UCAS – If you helped your child with their university application, you’ll already know this one. Universities and Colleges Admissions Service operates the application process for British universities.

Track – this is an online system developed by UCAS that allows your child to check the progress of their application. At around 8am on A level results day, UCAS will update Track so that each of your child’s university choices will show whether their application has been:

Unconditional (firm or insurance offer, or both). Unsuccessful (your child can now enter Clearing) Unconditional changed course (your child hasn’t got the grades for their offer but the university suggests a similar course requiring lower grades)

Be warned the system can be slow because so many students are desperate to find out if they’ve got offers. By 3pm, the Clearing list will be displayed in the UCAS search tool. Your child can use the time in between to add a Clearing choice if they need to.

UCAS Clearing  is how universities fill spaces on courses they haven’t yet filled for the next academic year. If Track shows that your child has been rejected by both their first and insurance choices, they will be automatically entered for Clearing and will get a Clearing number so they can apply for an alternative course. Clearing continues up to Wednesday 23rd October, with Clearing spaces advertised on the UCAS website, as well as university websites, throughout this time. Be warned that places on the popular courses can go quickly.

Adjustment - If your child’s grades are better than expected and they decide to change courses as a result, they can use the UCAS Adjustment Service.


Children’s book of the month

Each month the Good Schools Guide Newsletter team chooses a new book for children to enjoy

How to be extra-ordinaryHow to be Extraordinary (Puffin, £6.99) By Rashmi Sirdeshpande
Age: 5+

Publishers are falling over themselves to produce inspirational books for young readers. How to be Extraordinary is one of the best we’ve seen, mainly because of the eclectic collection of exceptional names chosen by author Rashmi Sirdeshpande.

The well-known faces range from people that children are bound to have heard of, such as David Attenborough, Nelson Mandela, Mo Farah and Michelle Obama, to unsung heroes like physics dynamo Sau Lan Wu, whose personal goal was to make at least three major discoveries (yes, she managed it), and Krystyna Skarbek, Britain’s first female spy, who was parachuted into occupied France in 1944 and was awarded the George Medal and the French Croix de Guerre for her bravery.

One of our favourites in the book is Judith Kerr, who died in May at the age of 95. When she was nine she escaped from Nazi Germany with her mother and brother, later settling in London and making her name as an award-winning author and illustrator. She achieved huge success with The Tiger Who Came to Tea, the Mog series (inspired by her cats) and a host of other picture books. As she once said: “If you’ve got a life that so many people didn’t have, you can’t waste it.”

The book also features the war surgeon and humanitarian David Nott, who has volunteered in conflict zones like Sarajevo, Gaza and Syria for more than 25 years and now trains doctors from around the world to work in areas afflicted by war and natural disaster.

Each biography includes a selection of beautiful illustrations by artist Annabel Tempest, along with some inspirational quotes. As the book says: “Whoever you are, and whoever you want to be, discover the real-life stories of 15 extraordinary humans and decide how YOU will be extraordinary too!"


Going up, going down

Going up

Thank you presents. School’s out for the summer now but what did your child give their teacher at the end of term? According to teachers the gift they like more anything – yes, more than flowers, chocolate, stationery or gin – is a card or note of thanks.

Prolific artists. The average child will produce more than 2,000 works of art for their parents before they hit the age of 12 says a study commissioned by the BIG KIDS Young Artist Award.

Supportive parents. More than eight in 10 parents of current students support their child financially at university. New research by the consumer group Which? says that many mums and dads sacrifice new cars and holidays and some take on second jobs to cover their children’s university costs.

Going down

Decline of small village primaries. In 1980 there were 11,464 primary schools in England with 200 or fewer pupils but by 2018 the figure had fallen to 5,406. Rural primaries now have just over 100 pupils on average, compared with just under 400 for primaries in towns and cities.

Teens say ‘no’ to babysitting. Half of today’s youngsters have a part-time or Saturday job – far fewer than their parents at the same age. A Barclays Life Skills survey found that rather than babysitting or stacking shelves many young people between the ages of 14 and 21 are buying and selling things online, running YouTube channels and doing animation and design work.

Bullying among secondary pupils. Three in five young people aged 11 to 16 have been victims of bullying in school and nearly a third have been bullied online, says research by the Diana Award charity.


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Cost: £175 per delegate. Register here

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