A lot has been said about the mess that the UK government have made of both A-Level and GCSE results this year. In many ways you could argue that, given the ongoing situation in the world with Covid-19 and everything that’s associated with it, it was likely that the process of awarding grades to students was somehow going to suffer a few hiccups. I guess if you look back at their track record of dealing with other situations during this crisis it was pretty much inevitable that they were going to make a complete pigs ear of it. And they didn’t disappoint, delivering that pigs ear with flying colours and bells on.
For me personally though, I didn’t do too badly out of it. I had expected to pass my English GCSE. I thought I might achieve a level 4 or 5 which is the modern day equivalent of the old fashioned grade C or just above. In fact I ended up with a level 7, which is on par with the old style A grade. What a result! I’m really pleased with that as I have worked really hard on my writing over the past year and, ultimately, writing in some form or another is what I hope to end up doing as a career when I eventually emerge from education again in 5 years time. Certainly, given the fact that I want to study for a degree in Creative Writing and Publishing at University, that level 7 can only go in my favour.
I also – somehow – managed to achieve a level 4 for my Maths GCSE. Surprising given the fact that as a group we went through no end of upheaval during the year. Three different teachers, three different approaches to learning and a global pandemic. I’m surprised, but also proud of my achievement.
I should also mention that when I originally took my GCSEs way back in 1996 I was only able to ever achieve a maximum of a D grade at every subject. This was because my school at the time flat refused to enter me for the intermediate or advanced exams, forcing me to take the foundation papers instead. The people closest to me weren’t interested in challenging this decision, despite me asking, and in fact took very little interest in what I was going through during my school years, both in terms of my education and my personal life. So I just had to go with it, and ended up with – unsurprisingly – straight D’s. That outcome had always bothered me. In part because I always knew what I was capable of achieving given the right teaching, but also because of the way that nobody seemed particularly bothered about what had happened, and still isn’t.
Anyway, now that my GCSE’s are done and dusted, I can settle down and get on with my Access to Higher Education course. Two years of modular study that will hopefully take me to university.
In order to pass the course I have to achieve a total of 60 points. These points are awarded based on how good the coursework that I am producing is. So, for example, if I manage to get a merit for one of my assignments, then that merit is worth more points than a basic pass. The better I do in terms of marks, the better chance I have of passing the course.
The course itself is made up of several different pathway based diplomas, depending on what the individual student wants to go on to study at university. For me, I will be taking on a humanties diploma, and as part of that I have to take three different subjects as well as English and Study skills alongside. The subjects that I have chosen to do are English Literature, Psychology and either IT or Sociology. IT would of course be the easier route to take, but then I’m kind of thinking that I’d like to challenge myself a little, so I’m leaning towards Sociology slightly more.
Psychology is of particular interest to me because of what the module entails. From what I understand a lot of it is based around exploring mental health and wellbeing, and the effects that different events and emotions can have on us as human beings. With mental health and mental illness being something that is very much a key factor in my life, it’s a subject that I feel I can really sink my teeth into.
I’m due to start year one of my Access course on 10th September. Of course I’m feeling apprehensive about going back and having to get to know a whole group of new people again, as well as the pressures of doing well with my assignments. But I know that I can do it. I just need to believe in myself a little.