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GCSE results day FAQs - Exams

We asked Principal Simon Cook some of the common questions and worries we get asked around results days... 

What would be your advice to students who may not have performed as well as they’d hoped?

Don’t panic, and don’t give up. The results you receive now don’t define your future. Hold on to the aspirations you have for the future. I see many young people believe that there are no good quality options available now. Colleges will enrol students throughout September and beyond in many cases on all types of programmes so there is definitely no need to panic. There are options available locally for you to keep studying subjects that you enjoy, find interesting, and will open up career opportunities.

Some may think they have to go down the academic route and forget about an apprenticeship or a practical course? What would be your advice/what are your thoughts?

An academic route doesn’t suit everyone, and every year we see young people absolutely flourish in an environment where they focus on technical and professional skills or study alongside work. Our economy needs skilled employees and an academic route does not always prepare young people for the world of work as well as technical programmes can. I’m a case in point. I left school and went to college, which lead me into a career that I love and that took me around the world. Now I’m passionate about providing those opportunities to others, which is why I’m so proud to lead MidKent College.

This year grades have changed – some may say these have been harder this year do you agree?

The grading system actually changed last year for some subjects like English & maths from A*C to 1-9. This has caused some confusion. In the key subjects of English & maths grade 4 is the equivalent to the old grade C and the expected minimum standard for everyone. The new GCSEs are definitely more challenging and schools and colleges have had to adapt to this. GCSEs are by no means easy to achieve and take a lot of work from both teachers and students.

How did you support those taking their GCSEs this year?

We ran extra revision workshops through the holidays which were well attended, shared lots of revision advice and exam tips through our #studysmart campaign, and provided free breakfasts for students before each exam where they could grab something to eat, do a bit of last-minute revision if needed, and spend time with our staff to ease any pre-exam nerves. For the first time this year we ran a maths challenge around the College for staff and students, with a series of problems to be solved. Again, this helped to build confidence in a subject where a lot of us, even as adults, can often feel a bit uncertain. I’d really like to do that again next year.

Do you think there’s going to be a rise in inquiries due to the changes to the grading systems?

Possibly. As I said earlier there is still some confusion about the number grades. We already know that some young people, parents and carers, and even local employers have required additional support to understand what the changes to the grading system mean. We have a dedicated enquiries team on hand to help with that, and other questions.

What can MidKent College offer students that other colleges can’t?

We’re fully invested in our communities and are the local College for Maidstone and Medway. We start working with our students long before they turn 16, and in some cases we’ve been a part of their lives and involved in their education since primary school. We’ve got great relationships with schools, and with local employers. That’s vital because we want to help our students transfer from school to college, and from college to work or university, as smoothly as possible. 

What is the newest course/programme to study at the College?

This year we’re launching a new programme in Video Game Art and Design. This sector is growing enormously, and we’ve got great local success stories like Dovetail Games. The key for us that is we provide programmes that prepare our students for work, so if we can see job growth in a certain sector then we’ll look at programmes that will help us grow skills locally to suit those jobs.

Who should teenagers chat to if they need to get in touch with the College before/following their GCSE results?

We have a course inquiries team who can help explain how individual programmes work, and what students can expect to study. For those who are unsure of their future prospects, our careers team offers independent advice and guidance to help map out a way forward. We’ve also got a great Career Coach tool on our website where young people can explore their options, find out how much they can expect to earn in a particular career and understand what qualifications will help them to succeed in that career.

Contact us today if you think we can help.

Has there been a rise in the number of students sitting their GCSEs this year compared to last?

All of our students continue studying English and maths at an appropriate level throughout their time here, as employers state quite clearly that they expect a good standard in new hires. On balance, the proportion of our students requiring a full resit is probably pretty much the same year-on-year.


Is it too late for students to change plans for September?

Not at all. We start enrolling students from results day onwards and will keep enrolling through September. The best thing to do is speak to us, or complete an application form through the website, and we’ll advise you when to come in and enrol. It’s also possible to transfer, so if you start a course somewhere else in September and decide you want to come to College, just get in touch and we’ll help you swap.

We have a range of courses available to choose from, so if you'd like to swap, contact a member of our team.

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