Blackpool students prepare to get A Level results
Changes to the way sixth form grades are being decided due to the coronavirus pandemic makes it more important than ever for students to be aware of their options
On Thursday August 13, sixth form students will receive their A Level results along with those for many vocational qualifications such as BTECs.
This is always an anxious time for students and their families, so it's important they are aware of their options, especially if results are not quite as expected.
At Blackpool Sixth we will have a large team of specialist staff ready to support our students when they receive their results around 8am via email. Along with the results information the message will ask if students need any support from us. This support can then be delivered quickly either over the phone or by appointment in the college.
Due to the cancellation of the summer exams because of the coronavirus pandemic, grades this year have been based on assessments made by students' schools and colleges using a system designed by the examinations authority Ofqual.
There is some important guidance from the government for students receiving their results this year, which you can find here. This tells you in what circumstances appeals are possible and also how you can resit exams if necessary.
For many students who have applied to universities for courses via the UCAS system, things will be straightforward as they will have obtained the grades they needed for their first choice or their 'insurance' choice.
In this case you do not have to do anything. UCAS will send a confirmation letter in the post, which will also be available on your UCAS track, confirming that you will be attending your chosen university or college. The university or college will contact you with any further information.
For students who have not obtained the grades they needed, the message is 'don't panic!' There are a number of options for you. The best idea is to start by contacting the universities concerned, as they may allow you to drop a grade or two. Phone the university as soon as you can and negotiate. Be patient and have your UCAS number and the Course Code ready.
If you are declined by your firm choice and insurance choice, you will be entered into a system called ‘clearing’ automatically. Check Track on UCAS to see if you're eligible to use clearing. If you are eligible for clearing an 'Add Clearing choice' button will appear on your Track 'choices' screen. The Clearing Plus service on UCAS will match unplaced applicants to relevant courses with vacancies. This individualised support will be provided by UCAS through emails, social media, and over the phone.
Even if you meet the grade requirements for your offer, you may still choose to self-release from your university choice and find a course through clearing. To do this, you just sign in to Track, and click the ‘Decline my place’ button - but think carefully before doing this and seek advice from college staff. At Blackpool Sixth your pastoral mentor is the best person to speak to.
There is also an Adjustment system for students who have done better than expected, which allows you to be considered for courses at other universities. Again, it's best to think carefully before doing this and get advice from college staff.
If you have not applied for university but after getting your results you would now like to do so, you can still make an application using the online UCAS APPLY system. If you are a Blackpool Sixth student, make contact with your pastoral mentor for further guidance if you wish to do this.
For those looking for employment with training rather than university, the best starting point is www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship, where you search for vacancies and apply for apprenticeships. At Blackpool Sixth, the Futures Team (careers support) are there to help our students with this. You are also advised to make contact with the Young People’s Service. They have lists of vacancies for employment and apprenticeships. The local Young People’s Service may be contacted on:
Blackpool Office Tel: 01253 754840
Wyre Office Tel: 01253 775050
Lytham St Annes Tel: 01253 783939
If you have not already done so, prepare a CV to use in your applications. Write to suitable organisations to ask if they have any vacancies. Phone in advance to find out the name of the personnel manager so that you can address the letter directly. At Blackpool Sixth, the Futures Team are available to help with CV writing, applications for employment and developing effective interview skills.
Some students may decide to take a gap year. This can be beneficial, allowing you to gain valuable life experience and develop skills so you stand out from the crowd when making future applications. However, you'll need to make sure it's the right choice for you - if you don't plan your gap year, it can be hard to justify the unexpected gap on your CV to future employers. The UCAS and Prospects websites give more information about the pros and cons of taking a gap year as well as ideas on how you can best use it.
In 2019 Blackpool Sixth had a pass rate of 100% in 50 subjects with many students achieving a whole string of top grade passes. The college is particularly proud that 99% of last year's leavers successfully progressed to university, apprenticeships, other forms of training employment or took a gap year.
Blackpool Sixth wishes all those receiving their results in 2020 all the very best for their futures.