5 things not to do on A-level results day as a teacher

When emotions are running high, it’s easy to panic or make the wrong joke. Here’s how to avoid putting your foot in it

Stephanie Keenan

five things not to say on A-level results day

A-level results day is tough.

It’s a stressful time for teachers as well as students, with emotions understandably running high.

You want the best for your students and you’ve no doubt worked your socks off to support them. 

Quick read: A-level results day 2019: need to know dates and information

Quick listen: GCSEs: what has been the impact of the shift to linear exams?

Want to know more? Results day pressure overshadows teachers’ break

Sadly, things won’t always go to plan. But remember, you’re the adult, and that means you need to keep it together, for everyone’s sake.

Here’s how not to do it.

Don’t say ‘I told you so’

If you’re a parent and a teacher, this can be especially difficult. You will have spent years telling students what they needed to do to succeed: some of them, unbelievably, will have ignored your sage advice in favour of things like devising their own “unique” memory palace methods, attending to their social lives or losing their notes entirely. 

a level results

Even so, there is no need for the “What did you expect?” response, the “If you’d just completed that personalised 3,000-page revision workbook I set you over Easter, then maybe…” or the specific-yet-unhelpful analysis “When you look at the results breakdown, it was question 3 wasn’t it? Yes, you could never do that one.” 

Don’t kick them when they’re down.

Don’t make jokes

Teachers are known for their terrible jokes, and while a little humour in the classroom can grease the learning wheels at times, results day is no place for teacher lols. Don’t disguise your own anxiety and awkwardness with ill-judged joviality. 

If you know their results and they don’t, it’s extremely insensitive to make jokes before they have the same information.

We’ll have none of that “What are you doing back here? Want to start your retakes already? Ha ha ha haaaa!” Rein it in, David Brent.

Don’t panic

So your star student hasn’t got the grades you expected. The last thing they need is their teacher running around like a headless chicken, or crying so hard they soak the results slip. Stay calm and reassuring, yet always realistic. 

Their grades may not go up with a re-mark so don’t promise anything, no matter how much you want to see the hope return to their eyes.

It’s best to look at all the options with a cool head. You will probably be able to find them a place, if not the place of their dreams. 

Don’t go overboard with the optimism

Don’t refer to the likes of Jeremy Clarkson who got two Cs and a U but has a private chef currently making him truffles. No one wants to hear that.

And there is no point selling a university they don’t want to go to: “Cardiff actually has a great swimming pool!”, “York has more pubs per square mile than any other university town” or “My niece went to Leeds and is now a happy accountant. No, that’s not an oxymoron. Why are you crying?”

Don’t make it about you

“Well, there’s always teaching…Oh no, you’ll need two degrees for that! Actually, I went on to get an MA! And did I mention I’m working on my PhD?”

Stephanie Keenan is head of English at Ruislip High School. She blogs here and tweets @HeadofEnglish

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