Today’s columnist, Veronica Clark: Exams grades aren’t the be all and end all – as you’ll learn

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Yesterday thousands of A-level students picked up their exam grades. For some, celebration, but for others crushing, bitter disappointment.

Sadly, my O-level grades reflected the fact that I hardly put a day’s worth of revision in.

My problem was I saw school as my social life. I didn’t realise that I’d actually have to sit down and work.

No, that only happened later on, when I re-took some of my O-levels, as well as a couple of A-levels.

It was difficult, learning outside the school environment, because my life held a world full of exciting opportunities and distractions .

So I feel for the teenagers today, because they don’t enjoy two minutes of childhood before they’re tested.

Kids are constantly bombarded with tests in science, maths and English – they simply can’t win, or relax.

Instead, they are evaluated at every turn, with pushy parents comparing their own little darlings to yours.

No wonder depression is on the rise in children and teenagers, because, as a society, we are setting them up to fail.

Whatever happened to creativity, play, and more than one-hour’s exercise a week? Skipping ropes, stilts in the playground, impromptu trips, and lessons outdoors to inspire and stretch their minds?

The blame culture, that’s what. There’s so much red tape attached to school trips that it’s a miracle our children ever make it outside the classroom.

Lessons for younger children outdoors are pretty much a no-no too, unless every child has been lathered in SPF 500, a hat, and full body suit to prevent burning.

What about those who don’t make the grade? What damage does that do to a child’s self-esteem? I wouldn’t have stood a chance because I was creative.

But I was lucky. My parents encouraged me. Failure helped me cope in later life when I didn’t pass my driving test or land the job of my dreams upon graduation.

I was taught that I could be whatever I wanted to be, as long as I had self-belief.

They didn’t care what we did, as long as we were happy, and that’s all I want for my own children.

Exam grades do not define you as a person or what you will become, that is down to you.

As for parents, I believe the greatest thing you can give a child is confidence and a bucketful of love.