GCSE results day

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At a glance

Guidance on how to prepare for results day with your son or daughter, when and how the exam results arrive, and how to support and reassure your child if the grades are not as good as they'd hoped for.

How and when will my child's GCSE results arrive?

In past years, most GCSE results have come out on the last Thursday in August. But this year the date has changed - and they will be available on Tuesday 24 August 2010.

Most young people receive their results by going into school, where they will be handed an envelope containing the results of all the exams they took. Alternatively, the school can post the envelope to your son or daughter.

Exam boards don't usually communicate directly with students – they make information available to the schools, and the schools pass it on. The only exception to this is the exam board Edexcel. It makes results available online (very early in the morning on results day) for students who've registered using the PIN and other information given before the end of the summer term.

However, remember that the results here will only be for Edexcel exam papers, and your child may have taken subjects with other exam boards.

Preparing for results day

Young people who don't appear to care much about exam results are often secretly very anxious. Try to get your son or daughter to talk to you before results day about how they're feeling.

Poor exam results are not disastrous. It's very important to make sure your child understands that. Whatever the grades, there will be choices open to them.

What's more, whether your child does well or does badly, it's not the results in themselves that will make a difference to what happens next – it's what your child does with them that matters. Plenty of successful people did badly in their GCSEs, and plenty of not-very-successful adults did very well in theirs.

So, make sure your son or daughter knows that whatever happens on results day, there's a way forward – and make sure you believe this message yourself (it really is true). You won't be able to convince them to think positively if you aren't.

Talk to your child about how, and with whom, he or she wants to open the results envelope. It might feel less competitive to find out their grades away from their classmates. And don't be offended if they want to open their results alone - just let your son or daughter know that you'll be there for them when they're ready to talk through their results with you.

Reacting to the news

On the day itself, be prepared for all eventualities. Your child might have done very well, and will want to celebrate (with friends or even with you!). But the news might not be so good, in which case they'll need your support and reassurance that it's not the end of the world.

It goes without saying that good news will be much easier to handle than bad news. Try to be prepared for either. Clearly, bad results will feel crushing for you as parents, as well as for your child. But your job is to offer a sense of perspective.

Your child has far less experience of life than you - he or she may not have experienced a sense of failure before. You might want to talk to them, at some stage, about the failures you've suffered in your own life, and about how you turned them round and made things work out.

Encourage your son or daughter to talk to teachers at school and/or college about the possibility of resits (English and Maths can be done in November, other subjects next year) and about revised A-level choices. You might want to explore some other possibilities (aside from A-levels) – vocational courses, diplomas, apprenticeships, and so on.

Remember - it's not about success or failure. It's all about what they do next. There are plenty of people who will tell you that a failed exam, or disappointing grades, didn't stop them from going on to make a success of their life.

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