THOUSANDS of students across Dorset and Hampshire are set to receive their long-awaited GCSE results today.

Many will collect the precious envelopes from school with others accessing their results online.

Schools across the UK have been warned to expect big variations in their results because of the many changes made to the exams this year.

Different schools will be affected in different ways, depending on their usual pattern of entry.

This year fewer pupils have been entered for GCSEs a year early because only a student’s first attempt at any given subject will count in the school league tables. More subjects have returned to end-of-course exams, with less ongoing assessment and coursework.

Glenys Stacey, Chief Regulator of Ofqual, said: “Results are likely to look different because of the difference in entry patterns. Direct comparisons cannot be made because you wouldn’t be comparing like for like.

“We expect that schools will see some variability in their results compared to last year. Students will respond differently to different qualifications.”

Speaking ahead of the release of the results, Priestlands head teacher Chris Willsher agreed and said: “This is a difficult set of results to interpret. It is not possible to compare results year-on-year or even school by school.

“As far as Priestlands is concerned, we have seen our overall results hold steady against a very mixed picture nationally. Results in the core subjects of English, maths and science are excellent.”

Last year the top performing, non-selective school in Bournemouth was Winton Arts and Media College with St Edward’s topping the list in Poole, Highcliffe School in Dorset and Ringwood School in the New Forest. Schools are judged by the percentage of pupils to attain at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English and maths.

Advice for students

If your grades are not what you expected, DON’T PANIC. There are many different options to consider for the next stage of your education.

  • Speak to a form tutor or school careers adviser for advice about what to do next. They may recommend retakes in some subjects or different courses for further study.
  • Sixth form study is an option, particularly for those who wish to do A-levels and go on to university.
  • College study is more suitable for some people with more vocational, career-based subjects on offer than in most schools.
  •  World of work: Many employers offer apprenticeships which provide a wage and education at the same time.

Parents can help too

  • Talk to your children and reassure them that you are there for them, no matter what their results are. The results matter to them, even if they pretend they don’t care.
  • Keep calm and try to be supportive, sensible and reassuring – you’re the adult.
  • Ensure they understand that it is not about success or failure but more about what to do next. There are lots of options available to them.
  • Accept that your children may not want to celebrate with you and will probably prefer to be with their friends.