It’s not mandatory for teachers to attend results days but I personally think GCSE results day is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling days of the academic year.
Some teachers choose not to attend, and that is entirely their decision. But if you are planning to go, here’s my guide on what to expect.
GCSE results day: what teachers should expect
The day before results day is known as embargo day. This is when select members of the senior leadership team and the exams officer receive the results, in order to prepare.
However, the vast majority of teachers won’t see the results until the same day as the students, often even just minutes before.
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When you first arrive at school, you may be able to access some student results online, or they may be printed out in alphabetical order. This is the first sight you have of how your students have achieved that year, and it’s a lot to take in.
Your first step should be to scan all the results, taking note of the grades of individual students who you have worked hard to support or who are in your tutor group. See who did well and who didn’t do so well, and pinpoint those who may need some reassurance and guidance now.
Once students start arriving, there will be a variety of reactions: some students will want to run to you to tell you how they did, and others will avoid eye contact with you at all costs.
Personally, I think the best approach is to wait for students to come to you.
In terms of the conversations you have with students, remember that results day is never the time for an “I told you so” moment. If students did well, congratulate them. If they didn’t do well, console and support them towards their next steps.
In most cases, where schools or academies have sixth-form colleges attached, they will want staff to discuss these next steps and find out whether the students are suitable for post-16 study.
After results day
The period immediately after GCSE results day can also be a busy time for a teacher, whether you choose to complete any follow-up in what remains of your summer holiday or when you return to work.
Seeing what grade your students achieved is the first step, but digging deeper into how they scored on each paper, subject or topic area, or on each specification point, is also vital. Most exam boards offer tools to support you here, but you may need a log-in from your exams officer.
Once you can see the breakdown of how your individual students performed, you can investigate how your cohort as a whole achieved in specific areas; this provides a valuable opportunity to reflect and improve for the next year group.
This work really matters and it is vital to bring about improvements in your students’ outcomes.
Ask yourself, based on all of the results, not individual students, what did your students learn well? What did your students not seem to learn well? What did you teach well and what needs to be taught better?
These are some of the most important questions a teacher can ask themselves, and results day provides a perfect opportunity to find answers.
James Bullous is a lead practitioner for science in the Midlands