I have just put out the piece below to my community. Some of you may find the points useful over the next few weeks as we unpick the results and help students move on to the next phase. As GCSE results are published inevitably a significant proportion of students will not have achieved the magic 5 or more GCSEs at grades A* to C including English and Maths, but is this the end of world for these young people? Well of course not. It is true that for many post-16 courses there is a requirement to have fulfilled this expectation, but still students should take heart. The first step is to contact their preferred post-16 destination and talk to them about their course choices and possible resits. Colleges are set up to meet these needs and are extremely experienced at helping students over the finish line if they didn’t quite meet their GCSE targets at school. You may be aware that GCSEs have changed drastically and that this is the last year of this GCSE model, however exam boards have been mandated to run resits in November 2016 and June 2017 in Maths and English for those who are just getting their results this week. I would also suggest that students be positive and see opportunities rather than barriers. Colleges offer a wide range of courses, both academic and vocational, and it maybe that a reassessment of post-16 choices may in fact suit the needs of students better than their original choices. For example if you got a “D” in History is an A-level in that subject the best route? Colleges will give excellent advice about pathways from Further Education that will meet the needs of learners and help them fulfil their ambitions. There will be a vast amount of guidance online and the National Careers Service can also offer advice. The range of vocational courses and apprenticeships on offer will provide effective and rewarding pathways into a vast range of careers. Also reflect on and learn from experiences. If you didn’t get the grades you hoped for then ask yourself why this was? Could you have done more? If this is the case make sure that the next time you sit an exam you have moved forward and learned from the past. Crucially be positive and use experience as a guide to your future. Inevitably there is an annual media storm at this time of year and the same questions are asked, do rising pass rates indicate a “dumbing down” of qualifications and what is happening in schools if students are failing in exams? I firmly believe that schools are working harder than ever, teachers and school leaders are dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to give their students the best possible opportunity to succeed. The quality of provision is also constantly rising; the inspection regime has been getting tougher year on year and schools are raising standards even to stand still on OFSETD judgements. All schools will have academic and pastoral support programmes in place to nurture their students and help them fulfil their potential. However it should also be remembered that some pupils do find school extremely hard and may not have the ability to gain a crop of GCSEs. This doesn’t mean that the teachers have failed and the students are lazy, it simply reflects the potential of the students. After all how many of us strive for excellence in our pastimes and yet will never achieve highly? I am sure that the gold courses of England are full of people who play and practice but they will never win The Open! Is there a key to success? Every student is different but over my teaching career I have recognised that the most likely path to success is a three-way partnership, between students, parents and teachers. Students only spend 15% of a year in school (granted they are sleeping for some of the 85% of time not in school) but nevertheless time in school is limited. Parental support is vital in supporting learning and success; schools cannot do everything, they cannot be monitoring the actions of students during the evenings, weekends and school holidays but parents can. Where this partnership is in place, where students are motivated and ambitious, we see success.