GCSE results day: What is a teacher's role?

On GCSE results day teachers should focus on supporting students, not crunching data, argues English teacher Katie White

Katie White


“I don’t go because I can’t take the disappointment.”

“It is one of the best days of the year; it is what it all comes down to.”

“Sometimes I go; sometimes I don’t – it depends on whether or not I’m on holiday.”

“I love the gathering and analysis of data and what I can learn about my own teaching from it in time for September.”

Whatever your feelings on GCSE results day 2018, most teachers agree that it is a very important date in the diary. It is the day that you get all the data; the day when you see who did it (as you knew they would), who didn’t (even though they should have) and who absolutely fluked it on the day.

It is the day when you can number crunch to your heart’s delight and create spreadsheet upon colour-coded spreadsheet until the league tables come home and high five yourself at how well you did. There is surely nothing better than that feeling of: “This is why we work so hard.”

GCSE results are not about data collection

And yet, what is a teacher’s true role on this day? Is it to spend hours logging on to exam websites, looking for national patterns and ruthlessly reading Twitter to see what other schools’ results look like. Or is it a pastoral day? A day to – metaphorically – hold a hand, make a cup of sugary tea and say: “Not to worry, let’s look at plan B”.

The high point for me is the looks of delight on the faces of those students who worked seriously hard and then seem surprised that they actually did it; the ones who didn’t believe in themselves until the black ink on white paper told them; to the ones who had a rough ride but pulled it back together at the end. And then they cried.

'They are just kids'

However, just as important is being there to help with those tears which are borne of disappointment. It is the moment when you remember that for all the hard work and frustration and relentlessness of it all, they are just kids. Sometimes, they need us to overlook all the bad stuff and help get them back on the right path – to advise them on going through clearance; to talk about resit options; to talk to parents and carers and to console.

Wherever you lie on this, GCSE results day is a day of extreme emotion: highs and lows. And, whichever way your students go this year, you will know that you did your very best for them and can revel in their joys or empathise with their sorrows.

Katie White is an English teacher in Devon

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