20 August 2015

Hundreds of teenagers today will be congratulating and commiserating each other as they discover the results of their recent, and some might say ruthless, GCSE exams. The main focus, it seems, of these results is whether or not the path to university and further education continues.cap and gown education in the uk

For some that’s a given, for others – including myself – it isn’t. I spoke on local radio station, Key 103, this morning to offer an insight into the potential future of those who aren’t leaping for joy today because it is important to remember how hard it is for these 15- and 16-year-olds.

I didn’t do well at school, certainly not in my exams, although I tried hard. I remember how difficult it is when you get your results and all of your friends are running around because they got A grades. A lot of the focus is on A grades and the highest echelon of academia, and that puts an immense amount of pressure on those young people who didn’t do well, who are left feeling like the world is ending.

But really, putting this into perspective, this is just a moment in time. Undoubtedly it might be an important moment in time when you will make some big decisions, but ultimately it is one moment in time. Now the choice is whether you’ll be going into further education or whether a line is drawn for the traditional classroom and a route with more practical skills is taken.

It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Far from it. Most of my friends who have now done extremely well didn’t do well at school. When you’re not as academically oriented, you learn a different set of skills that are often not measured within schools.

Everyone is so focussed on university being the ultimate path, but I think this attitude needs to change. University is not for everyone – not everyone thrives in a classroom environment. Whilst some people may become extremely successful thanks to their path through further education, others may find themselves disengaged and racking up huge debts for academic achievements that they are simply not passionate about.

It’s down to us today, as business people, as educators and as parents to accept the different paths that there are in life and that taking the path away from university at today’s results crossroads is not a path to failure, it could be the road to something amazing.

What was your journey like? How did you do with your exams?

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