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Help! My child didn't get their GCSE grades – what can they do?

By Megan Rose

While exam results day can be a cause for celebration for many, sometimes it doesn't pan out the way you or your child anticipated. But there are still options open to them...

Reassure them

Although your child will be disappointed, advise them that this is a bump in the road not the end of their dreams. They can still reach their goal, but they will just need to review their options for getting there. Then offer them practical help to look for alternatives.

Think about re-sits

While all GCSE grades are important, doing well in Maths, English and Science grants wider access to many more options. If your child hasn’t done as well in these particular subjects, then it is often worthwhile re-taking them. Help them to find out how to do this from their school or sixth form college.

Further education

If your child is dead-set on attending university, then studying for A-levels or the International Baccalaureate are the main options for getting there. If they didn’t get the grades to be able to study for these, then discuss with them what they’d like to do, and ring up their school for further advice.

Apply for other courses

Studying for a degree isn’t for everyone, and there are a variety of fantastic vocational courses which don’t always focus on GCSE results. Apprenticeships and traineeships are becoming particularly popular, and lead to many rewarding, well-paid careers. BTEC and NVQ courses are also a great way to develop the skills required for a dream job. Have a browse together and note down courses your child is interested in and could apply to.


If your child is undecided about what they’d like to do, then why not look into a voluntary scheme? Alternatively, they could look into the National Citizen Service, which is open to all 15- to 17-year-olds. This government scheme teaches young people a wide range of skills which, like volunteering, future employers and educational establishments really value. 

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Image: Public Domain