It’s important for young people to mark the achievement of getting through their GCSEs as they receive their results today, says a BACP member and school counsellor.

And that goes as much for teenagers who may not be happy with their results or have no idea what their next step in the world of study or work is, as it does for young people who achieved top grades and have their future and career all mapped out.

Donna Philpott, a school-based counsellor at primaries and secondaries in the Swansea area, says the accomplishment of getting through those years of pressure and hard work at school is often forgotten, when everyone is preoccupied with results.

This is the first year of new-style GCSE grades with the exams having been recently overhauled to make them tougher. It has led to claims that GCSEs have become too hard and have left some students demoralised and had an impact on their wellbeing.

So much pressure

Donna said: “There’s so much pressure on young people. Schools are building up to GCSEs for years. The most important point is to make time to celebrate that they have got through GCSES, whether they had good grades or not what they expected.

“We need to recognise that making it through GCSEs is an accomplishment.

“At this stage they are still children, they are still growing up. They are facing a lot of pressure at school while they are changing biologically and neurologically and they are also learning to deal with issues like friendships, relationships and social media.

“There needs to be that bit of time devoted to celebrating the accomplishment of making it through all that pressure and coming out the other side of it.”

Students receive their GCSE results.

Students receive their GCSE results.

Donna added: “Some young people are racing forward so fast. They know they enjoy, what they want to do and what career they want. They are not stopping to think about the whole achievement of their GCSEs and to mark that.

“But other young people do not know what they want to do. For them, the reaction after their results is often ‘What do I do now?’

 “A lot of young people find it overwhelming. After they get their results, they feel a bit lost. There’s been so much pressure on them to do well in these exams from year 8 or year, that they’ve not really looked further than that.”

She said it was important to recognise GCSEs as a wider learning experience that is more than just building academic knowledge.

“It’s good to think about ‘what works for me’, whether that’s how they revise, prepared for exams, coped with the pressure. These are lessons they will be taken on to A-levels and to college and employment and for preparing for life in general.”

She says it can be hard for young people to face the next step in their lives after their GCSE results.

School bubble

“They’ve been in this school bubble for such a long time. Everything has been about these results – they don’t see the big picture. Suddenly all these things come up, all these existential issues about where do they fit in the world, that they now think of themselves as an adult.

“It is a big shift. Whether their GCSE experience has been good or bad, they have been in this micro-community of school, with set relationships, friends, where they know all their teachers. That’s all about to change. It’s quite a big ending for young people.

“For those who are moving on to college; there will be support available to help them in the next stage of their life. There will be counsellors who can offer that support.”

And she had one final piece of advice as young people receive their results.

“The key is to focus on the positives – the hopes for the future,” she said.

To speak to a BACP counsellor or psychotherapist about any of the issues in this article, visit our Find a Therapist Directory.