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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 August, 2004, 06:05 GMT 07:05 UK
Hope after GCSE disappointment
By Katherine Sellgren
BBC News Online education staff

Bertha and Caroline
Bertha (L) and Caroline (R) pulled through their poor GCSE results
This week the papers and television news bulletins will be full of pictures of gleeful teenagers scoring umpteen grade As in their GCSEs, but for some there will be tears of disappointment.

With more and more focus on academic performance and more pressure on young people to achieve, 16 year olds could be forgiven for thinking a poor set of GCSEs is the end of the world.

But many teenagers manage to pull through their "failure", proving it is just a one-off glitch and that they can achieve.

Even if you get bad results, you shouldn't worry because good things can come out of it
Bertha Gyamfi

For friends Bertha Gyamfi and Caroline Gbolade, GCSE results day four years ago brought great disappointment.

Bertha got no A to C passes and Caroline got just one B grade in art.

"I hadn't worked that hard, but I'd expected to do a bit better than that," says Bertha.

"I felt bowled over because I thought I wouldn't be able to go to art school. I felt very down about that and I didn't know what my options would be," says Caroline.

Despite their poor results, both girls were keen to further their education and signed up for Leisure and Tourism GNVQs at St Francis Xavier College in Balham, south London.

After four years of study, the pair have now completed their advanced level courses.

Bertha hopes to go on to Luton University to do an HND in travel tourism management and Caroline, having kept up her art skills with evening classes, has secured a place at Chelsea School of Art.

Caroline believes the "blip" of her GCSE results spurred her on to prove her worth.

"It opened my eyes up a bit. Even if you get bad results, you shouldn't worry because good things can come out of it.

"It doesn't have to end there," says Bertha.

'Not the end of the world'

Claire Goodwin, 18, sat A-levels in English, Media Studies and Psychology this summer and hopes to go on to university after a year off to study advertising.

Claire Goodwin
Claire now hopes to head off to university
But two years ago she had just two GCSEs at grade C to her name.

Claire's south London school was deemed to be failing and was closed down after she completed Year 10 (the first year of GCSE courses).

With low predictions and a sense of disillusion, Claire and some of her peers were taken on by Lewisham College where tutors devised a special course to accommodate their particular needs.

The "k4" programme developed the teenagers' key skills, but, having had so much disruption in their education, they were not due to be entered for GCSEs.

Just don't worry
Claire Goodwin
On merit, however, Claire and some others were entered for maths and English and Claire achieved two grade Cs, then went on to sit her A-levels.

Claire says while it is easy to think GCSE success is the be all and end all, candidates who do not do well should not panic and look at all other options.

"Just don't worry. My mindset was that if you didn't pass my GCSEs you haven't got anything and people drummed that into me. It's as though it's your path to life," says Claire.

"But they really don't need to worry, there are always other courses you can do, A-levels aren't the only thing.

"It's just not the end of the world."


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