All over England tomorrow year 12 and 13 students will make their way to school to collect their AS and A2 level results. The walk there will be anxious and stressed. The walk home will either be triumphant or despondent.
When your child is little you think they are a genius and as they go through the school system their teachers may agree with you. Primary school teachers are generally quite positive and always focus on your child's good points. High school teachers have to try and give a more realistic view of what your child is capable of. This can come as a shock to you, as besottedly, you always thought your child was very bright, walking at 1, toilet trained at 2, alphabet recitation and counting tricks at 3, but these are not an indicator of A level success. I have taught a lot of teenagers, even the most stupid of them could walk, talk and go to the toilet by themselves.
You may like myself, have a child who has no real clue of what she wants to do. We expect these kids to choose a future career when mine struggles to choose soup. Hormones are raging, boyfriends can be a delight or despair sometimes in the same day. The pressure by peers and the media to be thin, to be beautiful, to have the latest gadgets, to be clever. The toxicity that can sometimes pervade the social networking sites.
And at this time we expect them to know what their strengths and talents are ? To identify a job role they feel suited to and aim towards it ? when the only jobs they have ever seen in any depth are teachers ? In the place they can feel incarcerated in ? Come on.
The media is full of stories this time of year of children, nice smiley happy ones clutching certificates proudly telling the world they have 4 straight A's. It is also full of stories saying how much easier exams are getting and how monkeys could pass GSCE's today.
Imagine the pressure that puts on a child? Lots of kids think university is semi compulsory, and the media is showing them the 4 straight A kids, all blond and shiny, fully Jack Wills upped and telling them exams are so easy, how does that make a child feel when they have achieved 4 straight E's?
I got my Higher results in the post, to my home, with the privacy and space to deal with them. Then I returned to school at the start of term having had a few weeks breathing space to really think through my options. My child will have to go to school along with all of year 12 and 13 and collect hers, she will then have to sign up for year 13 if she gets the grades to return, all of this is done immediately with little chance to reflect.
All the students will be asking what you got, it's the only thing they say that day. If you haven't done as well as hoped, it's a very public failure, family, friends, school, and now add in facebook and myspace.
For some kids this is the day that will either give them the ticket and boarding card to their destination and for others it means planning a very different route, that may be longer and less direct or in a completely different direction.
I have told my beloved child that I love her and I am proud of her. She has worked hard and her results will not change how I feel about her. She is kind and funny, patient and resourceful and a fantastic girl who deserves a great big happy shiny future. She may get the ticket and boarding card or we may have to re route the journey or go next year instead.
But she will be always be loved and I will always be proud of her, because I refuse to define her or anyone else's child by their AS/A2 results.