Not getting the right GCSE results does not mean your life is over. If I had thought like that in 1988 I wouldn’t be writing this now! This September I will be teaching level one students (students that through a variety of reasons have not achieved the GCSE grades they had hoped for). There will be a range of challenges this year for these particular students. The focus within the classroom for them will not only be on building up their confidence academically, but finding ways to help them determine what career path to choose.
The thing that has struck a chord with me during August enrolment this year, is seeing the clear disappointment (and for some embarrassment) of not achieving those C or above grades. A particular moment comes to mind whilst I was enrolling a young lady who refused to make eye contact and grunted the odd word to my questions. Her parents were sat either side of her trying to cajole her and point out the positives. I carried on talking directly to her about the course and how better English and maths grades could be achieved. I then talked about the future once completing the year-long course. What seemed like an eternity to gain a glimmer of eye contact was actually only five minutes. Eventually with my incessant positivity and examples of past student successes, I finally gained eye contact and the grunting stopped and a smile returned to her face. My heart went out to her and in truth I saw a reflection of myself in 1988.
We can call level one courses all sorts of things but most students just see it as the boobie prize, and liken it to their schools bottom set classes. So with this in mind during last weeks induction I worked hard on focussing on how this year will help these students. I talked about ways they could get their English and maths grades up and what potential careers paths they could take with the right qualifications. I suppose you could say we built a sort of plan, one that at present looks more like one of those maze puzzles, but a plan nonetheless.
I appreciate that some of these students achieved low grades primarily down to their poor behaviour and attendance. However this is not the case for all and even if that was the case, you have to ask yourself why were they like that? Everybody deserves a second chance.