i Editor's Letter: This year's GCSE results


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The Independent Online


My heart goes out to all students who are receiving GCSE results today (and their families). It will not help to hear that a few key subjects have had the grading toughened up this time after all those years of improving results.

For many, it will be a first experience of waiting for news that may not turn out to be good. As Lisa Markwell (p14) explains, the anxious wait is another rite of passage. I will be one of the waiting next year. I'm dreading it. It's probably going to be worse than waiting for my own, back in the mists of time. That said, I have more faith in my daughter than I did in myself.

If there is one loud and clear message from this year's GCSEs, it is: stay on at school if humanly (financially?) possible. The alternative is even bleaker than normal this year for those who leave at 16. I am not saying it's impossible to find a job that will lead you somewhere, but it is clearly going to be very tough, given all the stories we have run about youth unemployment and Neets (those not in education, employment or training).

I look forward to hearing from the staff at Woolwich Polytechnic, the London school we visited that takes 600 copies of i. It has just achieved its best-ever A-level results. The chances of emulating that with GCSE results have been motivating teachers and pupils alike; 600 i's, eh? Coincidence?

Spare teachers a thought. They know the results in advance and prepare to handle the disappointment of pupils and head teachers alike. If targets are not met, partly because of the new grade stagnation, then their jobs may be at risk. It's not a day for the faint-hearted. So, I really hope good things have come to those who have waited.