“I couldn’t believe it," says Lauren Reid. "I read it, but it just didn’t sink in at all."
Even 24 hours after opening her GCSE results yesterday, the disbelief is still audible in her voice. The results slip tucked inside her envelope revealed that she had passed her GCSE maths resit. Against all the odds. On her ninth attempt.
It was her first resit at City College Plymouth after years of failed attempts at school and local sixth forms. And, although the 19-year-old felt the exam had gone well this time, she had mixed emotions as she approached the college to pick up the results.
“There was a mix of feelings," she says. "I found it a lot easier at college than I found it at secondary school, but still, I wasn’t sure. There had been a grade 3 on the sheet every time, and now there was a 4. I brought my mum, and she was over the moon. I went and found my teacher and we had a hug.”
Background: GCSE resits: 'Look how far you have come'
'Only a few marks off'
Last summer, Tes revealed that some students had sat their English and maths GCSE exams on as many as nine occasions. Now, Reid's story shows that – for some, at least – it can be ninth time lucky.
Reid was one of tens of thousands of college students to receive their GCSE resit results yesterday, on a results day that saw the English and maths resit pass rate drop across the country.
“I saw that the rate had dropped – but I did it. I was just thrilled,” she says. “I was always on a grade 3 and only a few marks off. I had thought about giving up. After the fourth attempt, I just didn’t want to do it any more.”
But moving to an FE college made a significant difference, Reid says. “At secondary school, I was really anxious and the teachers had a lot of pressure on them. I felt a lot more supported at college. At school, I really felt that university had to be the next step, but at college, the staff were a lot more relaxed.”
@cityplym just wanted to say a huge thankyou for all the support you have given my daughter @LaurenR63668428 over this past year..she got her maths result today after 8 attempts at school and she finally achieved her 4 grade..so happy thanks again ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Ws172Ol55b— Cara( Nacho )Reid (@reid_nacho) August 22, 2019
Reid says that it feels like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. “It was like this giant shadow lurking at every corner, being really annoying. I can see the [maths] textbook from where I am sitting, and I can’t believe I am done and don’t have to open it any more. Before the exam, I was mainly doing past papers every day and doing the problems I really struggled with. I had a tutor at college who helped me a lot, and also had a private tutor, a family friend, who never gave up on me. ”
And Reid is now looking forward to beginning a new chapter: next month she begins a degree in occupational therapy at the University of Plymouth.
"It is quite scary, but coming from a working-class background and going to university, now I can show people that I can cope," she says. "Look at what I did with the little I was given. I have come through this now and I am not going to be stopped by anything.”