STUART TAYLOR COLUMN: GCSE results day got the better of me.
ON THURSDAY morning I watched the breakfast news in horror as live on TV students opened their GCSE results — the day of my results I was being sick in the toilet at home having sent my sister to collect my brown envelope for me.
My little cousin Carys was brave enough to pick-up her results herself and passed with flying colours having two A*s three As and four Bs — the closest I got to an A* is when a buyer on Ebay described me as having provided them with A* customer service. (I will sell anything, and smile when I take their money!).
My results had nothing resembling As or A*s. I gained the required Cs I needed to get to do my GNVQ Business and Finance course (advanced!, I have you know) so I was happy enough and my parents were delighted, I think their expectations of me academically were rightly not that high. They must have spotted that I was watching Home and Away and Neighbours far too frequently instead of revising.
The bottom line is I hated exams and was sick with worry at every exam I sat. This included my driving test where my instructor had to inform the examiner that I was just making a sick-stop (see what I did there?) before sitting my test. It seems that you are either good at exams or you aren't — I can safely say I'm not. I feel that there is a tremendous amount of pressure on young people to achieve excellent exam results at GCSE and A levels. For some, like my cousin Carys, it seems plain sailing, even though she put in the hard work, but for others it can seem like the end of the world if they don't gain good grades.
While I think doing well at GCSEs is important, it is not the life-defining moment that the media claim it to be. I won't be alone in feeling that I was far too immature at the age of 16 to be thinking about exams. After doing my GNVQ Business course, which I excelled at, due to the fact that we were taught how to make money, I went into the world of work with the Evening Post as a trainee journalist aged 18.
This is when I grew up quickly, as I was working with people who were far older than myself and taught me so much from actually learning as I worked. I do think Carys was right to turn down my offer of a job as my chief coffee-maker during my working day. I think she has her sights set slightly higher!