Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe

It would be nice to sit back and just enjoy the summer break! Certainly, many A-level students who have prepared themselves and worked hard before the last summer examinations can afford to be more sanguine and worry less as they await the exam results at the end of August. Sadly for so many young people and their families, they have either given up hope as soon as they leave the exam room or they are hoping and praying for some change in fortunes or stroke of luck. Of course, there will be some degree of nervousness for everyone concerned with the summer results, including students, parents, school heads and perhaps some teachers.

Every single parent worries or at least often ponders about what the future has to offer their children. They are perfectly aware that education is the surest way to secure the future or to improve their children’s chances in the years ahead. It is the job of the politicians to talk and make promises and tell us that the exam results are getting better and all other things they tell us. It is the responsibility of the parents to make sure and to take the action needed to improve the prospects of their children. It is not always easy for parents to do this, as the child’s environment does not consist of just the parents. Time is another constraint that limits what parents can do. We have to strike the right balance between spending time with the children and also going to work to pay for their upkeep.

In an ideal situation, we should all trust the state to provide a high quality education and all schools should be brilliant and parents should not have to worry at all. For young people, Saturdays and school holidays should be for going to ballet classes, playing football or rugby or just surfing the internet or chatting on their mobile phone.

Of course, this is not the reality and the situation for many people is very far from what I have just described above; at least for the high achievers anyway. Yes, a large proportion of the very academic students are also brilliant at sport and other extra-curricular activities. No one can deny that young people who excel, together with their families have made an awful lot of sacrifice to achieve so highly.

I see parents walking in to Excel all the time, often after their child has done a test, feeling extremely disappointed and panicking about the results. Too often they are looking for a quick fix. The sad fact is that it does not always work this way – there can be no substitute for planning ahead.

As there are too parties involved, it is not always easy for the parent to convince the child that he or she needs extra help. It is usually a waste of the student’s time and a waste of the parent’s money if the parent goes ahead and organises something without getting the child on board with them.

Below are a few words of practical advice for parents:

  • Start the discussion about next year with your child and make sure they are clear about the subjects they are doing in the coming academic year and the exact module(s) for each subject where that applies. Seek clarity from the school if you have to
  • Ask for the dates (not necessarily the exact date but to know which exam modules they are doing in which month) November, January, March or May/June are when public examinations take place. For GCSE also be clear about the tier of entry – is it higher tier or foundation tier? If your child is at KS3, is there any possibility that they will be starting GCSE early, at least in some subjects?
  • Is your child on course to achieve the desired grade? Start asking now but also keep a close eye on this throughout and do not leave it too late to seek help if they need it. It does not have to be extra tuition.

In case you do not have one of our Success Tips’ documents, please contact us to request it or visit our homepage on the website. We have a general one for the whole of secondary school but in addition we also have one that is specific to each age group.

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