16/08/2011 06:35 BST | Updated 16/10/2011 06:12 BST

Why A-Levels Results Aren't News (And Why Students Think So Too)

RESULTS DAY IS COMING. Of course you know that. If you are a student taking these exams you know that. If you are a parent of a student you most definitely know that.

However, for the rest of society we don't know it... yet. That is until the this traditional news cycle starts creaks into a motion, a cycle of news headlines and comment that, as I will show you, is completely and entirely predictable for the next three weeks.

And you know what? None of it is news.

This is how it will all pan out:


From now until the 18th August: Filler newspaper headlines (alongside current affairs talking point) - Clearing CHAOS. University Submission CHAOS. Student Loans Company CHAOS. Vastly overstated claims that 556,596 people aren't going to make the grade and will end up studying 'Interpretative Dance' in Keele. Talks by bigwig at some University organization you've never heard of saying that "we all saw it coming" followed by an inevitable shrug of their shoulders and the look of "meh, that's life".

I literally think that the entire media just goes to all of last year's news, finds all of the stories relating to edication and then slam on the keyboard COPY, PASTE.


18th August. RESULTS DAY: Photos on the front page of every single national newspaper of rather attractive, and of course by not complete coincidence intelligent 18 years olds 'jumping for joy', clutching or reading their results in their hand.

Let me just point something out here. I have never, in my life, seen men or women of any age, receive a result from any examination of any kind and think, you know what, let's jump together as a group at with their fist in their air clutching their results and looking in a certain direction. All that I can remember from my A Level results day is grasping my envelope from the too enthusiastic teacher in front of me, evacuating the room as soon as possible, opening the result on a park bench, looking down the right hand of the page like a laser beam, absorb the result and then just sit there with the moral dilemma of whether to tell people what I got.

Results day is never the day that it is made out to be. Yes the day is mainly a celebration with the possibility of some legal wine intake afterwards but the main event is as just as mildly awkward as the moment during a wedding when the Bride and Groom disappear for twenty minutes to go and sign the register and your not sure whether you can talk or not.


18th August. Breakfast TV News. News cameras invade a school you've never heard of in the break of day. Enthusiastic presenter (who you don't recognise, this must be his very first big gig in a while) informs the audience that, you never get what, we've got some students opening their results LIVE on air in the next 15 minutes. Camera zooms into several students in the background (always comprising mostly of woman, don't ask me why again) looking rather nervous and not really looking into the camera lens. They open the envelopes... and....

Just like scenes in reality shows when a man knocks on a door and the person answers it saying hello to the people completely disregarding that a camera lens is in their face this is one of THE MOST PREPLANNED AND FAKE TELEVISION SCENES IN HISTORY. The results are real (of course), the filming is live (of course) but all the people shown in front of us each year are obviously chosen beforehand by the producers and the teachers as they have reasonable results, so they don't burst into tears and we don't choke on our Crunchy Nut. The schools are involved in this so in the near future they could somehow frame this proud footage by the reception and the producers do it so they can keenly cut away to some overrated past-it A-list celebrity in a swanky mansion promoting their latest crap action film.

You might think that this is all innocent television, but it isn't. Because do you know who mainly watches these breakfast TV news shows in the morning of the results? Not people undertaking the school run (as it is the school holidays), but as the results aren't normally available till gone 11 and these shows start at 6am the people who are about to collect their results in several hours time. Way for them to put their minds off it and make them feel at ease.


18th August Onwards. Radio 1. Radio 2. You're flicking between because as the reader I have generally no idea what age you are so I cannot associate the right marketed radio station for you to listen to. Anyway, show goes on as normal and bam "HELP AND SUPPORT are available to all of those students who are receiving their results today." There are various soundbites of various radio and television personalities who state that the results didn't mean anything because they are successful without them, followed by the reiteration that you, or your parents can ring 24 hours a day to a hotline of some sort."

It's good to know that all of this free advice is available for you should you need it on the day itself. But what the lovely press people at the BBC and various other organisations do is tell you that the results are coming every single day the week before the results come out. What a way to go and calm nerves.


25th August. GCSE Results. Younger girls jumping on the front page of various newspapers, with a couple of guys just to the side of the shot). Stories of child who has managed to do the impossible* (*they ordered a private tutor which made it entirely possible) and has managed to go and get a MULTI-BEJIZZION GCSES. Student is shown on camera on Daybreak acting incredibly shy and humbled about their result, whilst a forceful and overtly proud mother defends any interference and says that he / she is going to be whisked off to Oxford University before he / she knows it / wants to. You feel generally depressed about the general state of humanity.


The next three weeks. Accusation in the press about how GCSEs are getting easier. Individual on TV with a background of either Big Ben or some random skyline in "the north" says that statistically results have been getting higher and higher.

This is annoying for the teachers, this is annoying for the examiners who spent months ticking and crossing boxes and organising this crap, but this is most annoying for all of the students who have been told for months on end that these grades matter and that *subtly* their lives depend on it, then on the day that they should be celebrating and looking forward to their future, get informed by someone who hasn't stepped into their shows for many years, that actually, they wouldn't have gotten the grades that they got if they took it just a few years before.

Young people undertaking their exams don't need this claptrap. Let me be blunt. A Levels are a bitch. They really are. So are GCSEs. It is a stressful, hectic time when your distracted by your own interests for a start, whilst being informed by many others that you have to stay focused and now 'choose' the steps ahead. The last thing that these people want is their work collectively assessed by individuals who haven't taken any sense of an exam for many many years, who don't really care what the students received, who never answer any real questions about the education system as a whole and, before you know it, jump onto the next media bandwagon promising to return this time next year.

So to all the people about to go and get their results? Good luck, I hope it is what you are expecting and it reflects all the hard work you put in.

And to a great deal of the media for the next three weeks? Go and die in a hole.