Schools will be in the unusual position of knowing which of their students have failed to get the grades they wanted.

This article was written by Grainne Hallahan at TES.

The end of this school year isn’t like a normal one, for students or staff.

Without external examinations, schools will know before results day which students have achieved the grades they need to go on to the next step, and which ones will have to rethink their first-choice courses or resit in the autumn.

So what can staff do now to support those learners who will be facing tough choices when they come to open their results in August?

GCSE and A-level results 2021: How to support students who fall short on their grades

We spoke to school leaders to find out their plans.

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Nick Soar is the executive principal at Harris Academy Tottenham, an all-through school, and Harris Academy St John’s Wood, an 11-18 school, both in North London.

‘Lots of careers advice and academic tuition’

“It is so vital to support the children at this unusual transition phase. Those who have not got a sixth-form place with us, or who haven’t been predicted to have a place with us, will also have the opportunity to receive one-to-one sessions with their teachers and be assisted by the sixth form leadership and careers team, in order to help them reach their next step.

“These students will be receiving lots of careers advice; for example, on how to apply for an apprentice position, interview technique, and tips on how to fill in an application.

“There will also be academic tuition where apt to help prepare them for any resits in the autumn. As always, students who don’t achieve a grade 4 in maths or in either English language or literature will need to resit.”

Terri Chard is headteacher of Silverwood School – Rowde Campus, a day special school in Wiltshire for students between the ages of 11 and 16 who have communication and interaction difficulties.

‘We’re offering a Preparation for Adulthood course’

“We have completely changed the curriculum for Year 11 in Term 6 and have called it ‘Preparation for Adulthood’. We are allowing them to come in their own clothes so they can practice for next year at college, and this last term will be a mix of activities during the week (including some work experience activities on-site; for example, helping the caretaker, gardener, admin team) and a range of off-site visits to local businesses. 

“We have also planned lots of transition activities; for example, giving them a chance to order food in a café, going into a shop and using money. These activities will include visits to their colleges so they can show their friends where they will be going next year. 

“The last part of the curriculum is thinking even further ahead, past what they will be doing next year in college, and looking at careers information. This will include life skills on how to dress, how to shake hands, and some mock interviews.

“Because we are different from a mainstream school, and due to their vulnerability, all of our students always go to college. They all have named placements and have been accepted on to their courses. This is a process we start in Year 9 to ensure that they have continual placement of education and the smoothest transition possible, as we have been preparing them for the last three years.”

Luke Homer is vice-principal at Rivers Academy West London, an 11-18 school and part of the Aspirations Academies Trust.

‘Bridging the gap to the next stage’

“Rather than adapting the curriculum for the final term, the focus will be on helping our learners to adapt to the next phase of their academic journey. 

“Students and teachers will use online resources and learning to help our students bridge the gap between GCSEs and sixth form in the subjects they plan to focus on post-16. All our Year 11 students are provided with careers advice throughout the year, and members of our senior leadership team are always available to have discussions with students about their future careers and next steps. 

“On results day we always make sure wraparound care is in place for the students who haven’t achieved the grades they hoped for. This year will be no different.

“Any students we know won’t achieve the grades they hoped for following teacher-assessed grades will be given extra support on the day they pick up their results. Specific staff will be on hand with potential strategies in place to assist, and additional specialist careers guidance will be available for these students.’’