Monday, 24 July 2017

What NOT to do on the run up to getting your exam results.

Iwan Williams, one of the Exam Results Helpline Careers advisors, give his top tips on how to keep it together as D-Day approaches.

  1. Panic! It seems inevitable to feel some nervousness as you get closer to the results coming out but stay positive that your hard work will pay off and think about the fantastic experiences that await you. Feel reassured that even in a worst-case scenario, you will still have a range of choices and options to help you move forward with your plans. 
  2. Stick your head in the sand. You probably already have a clear ‘Plan A’ scenario in mind. But things can change very quickly and what if you suddenly need a ‘Plan B’. Or even ‘Plan C’? If your results aren’t quite what you were hoping for or you have exceeded your wildest expectations then it doesn’t hurt to know what choices you have.
  3. Isolate yourself and turn away from loved ones and friends. I often talk about the importance of students building and maintaining a support network. Your own personal cheerleading squad, there to celebrate your successes and help you up when you feel down. It can be made up of friends, family and teachers; anyone that knows you and cares about your wellbeing. 
  4. Be inflexible. Understandably, your eyes will be fixed on a September start in your first choice university. I always think it is worth knowing about alternatives to that option though. And I don’t mean only consider this in a worst-case scenario! There are many pathways to success and while a September start at your chosen university is undoubtedly one of them, what could a gap year offer you? How would building work experience that supports your career choice be really beneficial later on? What options are there in the world of apprenticeships? Each option has pros and cons, right for some, not for others. If you are unsure of what these good and bad points are, it might be good to investigate things now. 
  5. Rush your decisions. Remember only you can take these steps and that no one can pressure you into doing so. Think positively but dare to think about the ‘what if’ scenarios too. You do have the time and space – even on the results day itself – to look at all options, learn what they offer and make the best decision for your future. 
  6. Not call the Exam Results Helpline! This is the most important thing that you should not not do! We’re here for - and genuinely love - helping thousands of students with their individual circumstances and range of choices. We are open from 8am on results day so please do get in touch. If any of the above has left you any unanswered questions, then we can help you unpick the tricky stuff.

The Exam Results Helpline is 0808 100 8000 and opening times can be found here.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Exam Results Helpline is back for August 2017

Careers advice service on hand to help stressed-out students 

The Exam Results Helpline is preparing for another busy August helping stressed-out students and their families as 2017’s major exam announcements approach.

The 40-strong team of career advice experts provide free, specialised information, help and guidance to students who have higher or lower exam results than expected.

The helpline number 0808 100 8000 opens in Scotland first on August 8, when Higher, Advanced Higher, National and Scottish Baccalaureate results are announced and closes North of the Border on August 16.

It is then open for students in the rest of the UK on August 17, the day A Level results are issued and closes on August 31 following GCSE results on August 24.

Students make the bulk of the calls, but a quarter are parents reviewing options for their children.

A full timetable of opening hours can be found here.

The three top reasons for calling:
1. What are my options for clearing? (26%)
2. My results are lower than I expected - what now? (20%)
3. I don’t know what to do and need careers advice (12%)

Last year (2016) more than 7,500 students called to speak with an adviser on the Helpline’s 0808 100 8000 number as well as through dedicated Twitter and Facebook accounts.

One of them was Molly Claridge, from Colchester in Essex, who had just received grades that resulted in her thinking she would not be able to achieve her first choice degree of Media and Communications at Bath Spa.

Molly, who is now 19 and just finished her first year at Bath Spa, said: “When I looked online and saw my grades I really freaked out as I got lower than I thought. It was so nerve wracking anyway with all the build up to it and so the day itself was pretty traumatic.

“The thing that was confusing was that it said I was still going to get into Bath Spa but I couldn’t really believe that without checking it out properly.

“I called the helpline number and spoke to someone who was so helpful and immediately told me what to do. Their advice is common sense, things like calling the university itself, speaking with tutors, looking at all the other options available – things you really need to hear if you’re worried and don’t know what to do.”

The Helpline is supported by the Department for Education and run by UCAS from its headquarters in Cheltenham.

The advice covers what to do if students haven’t secured the grades they predicted, or if they’ve changed their minds about their chosen course. There is also guidance on next steps for students whose grades are better than expected, help with Clearing and information on apprenticeships and vocational courses.

School Standards Minister for England Nick Gibb said: “Following the culmination of years of hard work, the day students open their results is an exciting yet nerve-wracking time.

“The government has reformed GCSEs and A levels so young people leave school with gold-standard qualifications, which ensures students are taught the knowledge and skills to succeed in the next stage of their education or career.

“The experts at the Exam Results Helpline provide a vital source of information to students and their parents as they carefully consider their options for the future.”

Annie Dobson, one of the career advisors who will be supporting the helpline this year, said: “This is an exciting but sometimes worrying time for students and their families. There is so much expectation on the morning of the results days for A Levels and GCSEs that having a friendly, expert, safe pair of hands to turn to is beneficial – for students and parents alike.

“Through the years advisors have helped tens of thousands understand the best way forward no matter what they are facing. The team for 2017 has already been assembled and are looking forward to supporting this year’s young people as they move into the next stage of their lives.”

Further information including opening hours can be found at 

My teacher training experience: part 2 – Stephen Pearce

This is the second my blog where I’ve been reflecting on my experiences of initial teacher training. You can read part one here. But now, I’m going to look at some of the questions trainee teachers frequently ask themselves:

1.    Is my subject knowledge good enough?

I am going to probably upset a few people but the answer is no, your subject knowledge is not good enough. Before you grab your pitchforks let me explain. You may be an expert in your subject and have a degree to prove it, however, teaching a subject is vastly different to being able to do it yourself. To really exaggerate this point, let's take 2 + 2. This would be mathematics most of us would have seen at a very young age and now you can tell me that the answer is four. You have learnt to do this basic arithmetic but to get that stage someone had to teach you what numbers where, what symbols we use for them, the concept of addition, and what symbols we use for operations. Your knowledge will become greater on the course as you won’t just have to be able to do your subject, you will gain the ability to explain every aspect of your subject from the ground up. If you love learning and am guessing you do if you are reading this, this is a lot of fun.

2.    Will the kids like me?

When you first enter the classroom some of the students may not like you. They may dislike your subject or just resent you are messing up with their routine and they miss the teacher they had before. But ultimately time heals most wounds and eventually you will have an interest(s) that resonates with pupils and they will at the least get to the point of begrudgingly not giving you much hassle. And yes, you will have classes you prefer and some you don’t look forward to. My biggest piece of advice for this is to set the atmosphere in the classroom. If you enter the room unhappy and deflated, pupils pick up on it and you will seem less approachable. Try and smile or at the very least go in neutral, it goes a long way.

3.    What if I forget a student’s name?

You will, you’re human, and it's great opportunity to show it. What would you do if you forgot someone's name you haven’t seen in a while? You would ask, right? Same applies for students. Like-wise, what if you called Tim, Tom or Chris (yes sometimes you get it that wrong)? You as a teacher are a role model and students likely will have had this awkward social interaction happen their lives as well. Just apologize, again this humanises you and makes you more accessible to students. Do try and learn pupil’s names as it shows you care and is useful for engagement but it is not vital or something you should worry about.

4.    How will I control a class of students?

Honestly, this is the most difficult one for a lot of teachers, new and experienced. Schools change policies frequently as everyone is trying to find something that works. Not every technique will transfer from class to class but the best advice I can give is try and be consistent. Fairness is important to students, so if you praise or warn a student for an action, you have to give that same praise or warning to the next student. You will find something that works for you, it may be frustrating at times but ultimately you will be fine and remember they are people too but they are only just starting to learn what appropriate action is and what is not. I’m sure you can think of something that you did at school that you would do very differently now.


Feeling inspired?

Find out more about becoming a teacher.

My teacher training experience: part 1 – Stephen Pearce

As the end of the PGCE course seems in sight, I have taken the opportunity to reflect on my experiences. If you are reading this you are probably at the same stage of your career or where I was last year, considering if this is what I want to do. If you are in the latter, please just do it, I won’t say you won’t have moments that you regret that decision but on the whole you will love it.

I am going to start off with one of the best things about the course. I started teacher training successively from an undergraduate course and your new classmates will seem very different. Mainly, you will notice the range in ages. This diversity means that your new classmates will have a variety of professional experience that you can learn from.

Honestly though, the other people on the course will be great for support and for letting off steam but your main asset on the course will be the more experienced teachers. Hopefully what convinced you to go into to teacher was a fond memory of a teacher you had or the thought that you can truly inspire young minds. If that's the case you will meet a lot of like-minded individuals who are doing exactly what you want to do the following year.

Teachers each have their own individual style and techniques but there is never anything new under the sun. You will steal what has come before but just add your own spin to it. That is while it is vital to see current teachers try and perfect their own teaching to try and analyse what they do and implement it.

My three top tips

·       More experienced will have their own style of marking and planning. This is a good year to experiment or create something that works for you. This likely won’t happen straight away, took my about two months before I was happy with how I was planning and the time it was taking me.

·       Each school is unique, try and learn as much as you can from the school you are at right now. It will be different from next school and to be employable you want to be seen as a chameleon that can work with everyone while simultaneously having a special set of skill that no one else applying will have.

·       Enjoy it! This is a job and quite a fun one but just as if I played FIFA all afternoon, eventually I’ll want to snap the disc. Have a life outside of the classroom and try to have friends outside of teaching. Groups of teachers often end up talking about teaching, why? Because one it's common ground and two we either love it or love to complain (usually a bit of both). If you have a hobby, make time for it. You need the time to switch off, you are human.

Hopefully I haven’t put anyone off so far. In part two of my blog I reflect on common worries and questions for teachers starting out.


Feeling inspired?
Find out more about becoming a teacher.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Wondering what to pack?

Before you know it, it’ll be time to pack and get on your way to uni. Here’s a quick guide on what to pack.


  • Clothes – there’s no need to pack your entire wardrobe, especially if you’re going to head home at the end of term!
  • Bedroom bits and pieces – duvet, sheets, pillows, hangers, and towels. You might want to think about ear plugs if you’re going to be in a lively area, or a mini fridge for your room if you’ll be in shared accommodation. 
  • From the bathroom cabinet – toiletries, glasses, contact lenses, medication, and a small first aid kit.
  • Laundry – washing products, laundry bag, and drying rack.
  • Electronics – laptop, tablet, printer, extension leads, and chargers. You may need an adaptor if you’re coming from outside the UK.
  • Kitchen essentials – check what is included at your accommodation. As a minimum, you’ll need enough cutlery, crockery, glasses, pots, tea towels, mugs, baking trays, and pans, plus basic gadgets such as a kettle and toaster for yourself. 
  • ID – passport, driving licence, NHS medical card, online card reader (if you use one for online banking), National Insurance number, and all important correspondence with your university. 
  • Food basics – while you’ll do your first food shop when you’re settled, it may take you some time to get settled into your room, so think about taking enough for the first day – stuff like coffee, tea bags, cereal, cooking oil, tins, and condiments.
  • Course essentials – if you can, try to get hold of any reading lists before you go and buy books in advance. You may be able to get a deal on second-hand books before term starts, and everyone tries to buy the same copies. You should also consider the stationery you’ll need. 
  • Little touches – if moving to uni is your first time away from home, take some keepsakes that will help keep you from getting homesick.
  • ‘Just in case’ items – things like an umbrella, torch, batteries, alarm clock, and plenty of change for washing machines.