It’s taken me a while to work my brain through the 2018 GCSE results and their fall-out. In my last duty as Head of Learning Support, I duly attended school and, having cycled 8 miles to get there was met with some lovely families, incredibly happy students and some really sweaty hugs (from me not them!). The students whose grades were amongst the highest nationally will have many options open to them and will have their self-value and self-esteem edified because they have achieved that golden Government standard of a ‘pass’ at GCSE. I am proud of those students and was as stoked as they are with their successes. Most of ‘my kids’ did brilliantly but there were a couple of wobbles and they are the ones that I think about more than the others.
It’s on the wobbles that I settle. Even using the word ‘wobble’ to describe lower results does not show the respect and value that should be given to them. ‘My kids’ at school worked incredibly hard for their grades and have achieved in-line with their predictions both from their CATs and YELLIS profiles. And now they face the prospect of retaking their maths and English, despite having achieved to the best of their ability. They have secured placements at college, or on apprenticeship schemes to pursue vocational courses which suit them perfectly and will fulfil the needs of local businesses and communities. It was in this troubled knowledge on Friday 24th August, the day after ‘my kids’ got their grades that I stumbled across this message on Facebook from Ellie Chick and her mum Sarah about the forgotten students of the English education system: those for whom learning is tricky and whose skills don’t necessarily lie in academic pursuits.
It is with these young people that I take my stand. I believe that these young people are forgotten with the English system. They are side-lined, they are maligned, and their skills are not celebrated. The lack of pathways for practically-minded, neuro-diverse individuals is, I believe, a travesty of the current system in England. The incessant focus on University as a holy grail and solution to all of society’s woes neglects the importance of trades, vocations and other types of work in favour of what seems to be a model of success based purely on the path
ways taken by those in positions of power:
We need to value what each member of our community and society brings to the whole, as in not doing so, we may miss their talents and lose their dynamism and difference. We need to celebrate their skills and create pathways post-16 that value and develop their gifts, not constantly make them feel inferior because they just missed that grade 4 at maths and English. I don’t have all the answers to these points, but I will be part of re-framing success to celebrate the diversity that is all of ‘my kids’.