Today is a big day – a day which fills young people across the country with fear and dread. It is GCSE results day.
Today, especially, I’m reminded that I got poor GCSE results – the worst in my family:
- C – Maths Level II
- C – Environmental Science
- C – Physical Science
- D – Design
- D – English
- E – Drama
- E – Integrated Humanities
- G – German
- U* – English Literature (*but that’s another story for another time!)
But today, I’m also reminded that since then I’ve worked hard and those grades are just a distant memory. Here’s the story of how a boy from a single parent family on a council estate responded to his disappointing GCSE results.
I left school at 15 (due to an August birthday) with those grades and not much else. I got a job which paid a poor wage, but included a day-release College course for three years. At the end of those three years I could add to my CV:
- RSA: Level II Diploma in Information Technology
- City & Guilds: Coding & Programming in BASIC
- City & Guilds: Application Programming in Pascal
After my College course my pay was increased and I was given a company car. I gained a wealth of experience in the areas of business, computing, and life skills. I took every opportunity presented to me, plus a few which I made for myself, and was eventually offered a job by a company I’d been working in partnership (these days that’s called ‘head hunting’). I accepted the new job, even though it would challenge & stretch me and my skills, and it did! The focus of my role changed from hardware repairs to software development & support (building on my college qualifications).
My next job (third) presented a wealth of further opportunities for learning & development which I grabbed with both hands and made the most of. The experience I had received up to that point (not what I learned at school) meant that I was able to do the job. When I resigned from that job I was able to say with thanks and honesty that the only reason I had the experience to get my next job (fourth) was due to what I’d learned with them.
My next job (fourth) was my dream job & came with a dream salary increase. As a contemporary philosopher has said recently: ‘it’s not about the money, money, money…‘; but actually it is a little bit about the money. It definitely helps when the money increases from ‘can just about afford to keep your flat & car’ to ‘let’s upgrade to a sporty car and still have spare cash at the end of the month’!
- BA (Hons) in Youth & Community Work & Applied Theology (2:1 – so close to a first that it still hurts!)
I’m now enrolled at the University of Oxford to continue my studies. If you’d told me all this when I opened the envelope which contained my GCSE results, I would have laughed in your face. Whatever the reasons for those poor GCSE results (and there are many!) they have never held me back. It’s been hard work along the way – but it has been so worth it.
So whatever joy or disappointment you received in your results envelope today, please remember that they are nothing but a stepping stone at the start of what can be an amazing journey – are you prepared to continue the hard work?