A 16-year-old took to social media to deliver a powerful message to education secretary Damian Hinds on the eve of GCSE results day.
Ellie Chick posted a video on her mum’s Twitter to draw attention to the 33 per cent of pupils in the UK who achieved grades 1-3 in their GCSEs – which isn’t a pass under the government’s new grading system. Ellie is one of the pupils in this 33 per cent.
“My message to Damian Hinds is… please don’t forget about the 33 per cent like me in the education system, because we all have a variety of talents and just need an opportunity to use them! Reminder, I am kind, polite, funny, caring and adventurous,” she says in the video.
My daughter and I have a message for @DamianHinds on behalf of the ‘forgotten third’ of students who have struggled through the education system to achieve grades 1-3 #ForgottenThird pic.twitter.com/MZ0ldK6hjZ— STEMChick (@SarahLChick) August 23, 2018
In the video, Ellie says that because technically she hasn't "passed" her GCSEs, her options in post-16 education are limited.
“I made this video to inspire others and to show the government that they should respect people’s needs and do more creative stuff than academic,” she told Tes. “There are lots of people like me who when people ask what we got we’re embarrassed or don’t tell people. I don’t think this is fair. I want everyone to be proud of their achievements”
She said that although she and her friends supported each other through GCSEs, there were tears on results day when they believed their results weren’t good enough.
Ellie, a keen gymnast of 11 years with medals for regional and national competitions, sat her GCSE PE last year and received an F.
Her mum, Sarah Chick, a director of Education at Villiers Park Educational Trust, said that the journey through GCSE results has, at times, been soul-destroying.
“We had worked through every written paper together and it just seemed wrong that despite the fact she was such an excellent gymnast the exam didn’t even reflect this in PE.
“The education system is a fantastic place for many bright students who sail through making the most of opportunities available to them but if you do not fit the academic mould, it doesn’t matter how many times your teachers tell you that you’re talented, every exam result just reinforces the feelings of failure,” she said.
The video has gone viral, with messages of support and encouragement flooding in from the education community.
“I’m pleased that a ‘taboo’ issue has been discussed and highlighted. Many teachers who have replied have talked about how proud they are of their 1-3 grade students but how the media and system only recognise top results. Teachers want recognition for all of their pupils and to label 1 in 3 students as 'failures’ at age 16 is completely detrimental to their efforts and to society as a whole,” Sarah added.
Ellie is, rightly so, proud of her results: “I feel happy and relieved and yes, I am proud of my results. Me and my school saw completing my courses and sitting the exams as my achievement because for a while it didn’t look like I was going to manage that."