RED LETTER DAY.
This year’s GCSE results appeared at schools up and down the country last month, bringing with them a plethora of feelings. Some people opened them immediately- after weeks of frenzied waiting, wondering and all-round fretful seething, why put it off anymore? Others took theirs home still sealed , either to find out in quiet seclusion, or keep the envelope closed indefinitely. Like Schrödinger’s “will it be poisoned?”- “will it just be very huffy at the end of all this?” relationship with his cat, sometimes not knowing is better- while you’re totally in the dark about the truth, your French results could be both unmarkable and an A*. Until you shed light on the situation, anything’s possible.
Sadly, such logic is frowned upon in job interviews – apparently they want cold, hard statistics now, so you’ll have to peep into the rabbit hole eventually. Then again, thanks to new government legislation, there are even more compulsory years before any such hurdle can be leapt/ unsportingly clambered over. The news that school is to remain a permanent fixture of life until the age of 18 has been met with a rather mixed response.
While many intended to stay on in higher education anyway- maybe even continue up to University, there are always some who leave school with a skip and a jump at 16 to find work, and no one seems completely sure how this balance will be affected. Will this mean even closer competition for available places ( already entrance requirements for sixth-form have been toughened, ensuring less can make it in and an optimum level is not exceeded) or will there just be bottlenecks and claustrophobic traffic jams outside classrooms as schools take on the same number, but fail to lose a few? Such questions have been adding to the mounting unease, but thankfully there are still alternatives.
Trigonometry and polymers don’t crop up much on the shop floor, and a working knowledge of hydrogenation won’t save your thatched roof from storm conditions. For those looking to learn a trade, who are finding the extra two years a heady millstone around their neck, thankfully training of any kind is also included in “higher education.” This means you can look further into your preferred occupation, stocking up on skills and experience instead of scouting out the job market immediately. If those who intended to leave now continue into apprenticeships and the like, a new, better balance could probably found.
So here at Buzz, we hope everyone got the results they wanted (or are content with the results they may or may not have…) and think about all the different routes open to you, to make the best of your calling-this may be the tester year, but much harder tests are already behind you!
Sixth form itself’s more like that bridge between school and university- before you set foot on it, there’s the odd creeping fear that someone’s about to leap out from behind the shrubbery, and gently break it to you that your results were in fact a miscalculation, and you won’t be allowed to set foot on this course after all. ( in the bridge analogy, this would probably relate to some kind of weight restriction…).
However, after days of terror, fretting over which clothes to wear so you’re never seen in the same outfit twice- school uniform is a horrible cross to bear until it’s actually taken away- the day of reckoning approaches and realisation comes that it’s not that alien after all.
Chances are, there are some people you know already- with whom you can safely clump- and others; clean slates to mingle with and meet. Some classes are readily familiar- a couple of the sciences, maths, English-maybe even a humanity or two, but the options are also open for more unusual topics interspersed with the rest- psychology for example to breathe fresh air onto a stale syllabus- while simultaneously teaching you why toddlers like eye contact…
Conversations with those around you sheds light on the awful attire situation, as you hear most people plan to juggle between the same three pairs of jeans too, and courses- despite being a lot more detailed than their GCSE counterparts, have the same strong foundations to work from- so any worries about the bridge collapsing from beneath you are soon put into hibernation.
All in all then, it’s more of a step forward than a total leap into the abyss- the same rules you’ve always grown up under, but now with added swipe cards, free periods, and unlimited access to the staff toilets. ( Anywhere with it’s own can of fabreeze is a definite step up.) It’s not that long or daunting, perhaps less of a rickety bridge then, more a comforting country lane.
Millie Sutherland O’Gara.