Unless you’ve been avoiding the TV, internet, newspapers and the radio today, you will have noticed that it’s GCSE results day.

As always, the media have focused on the most well-known group of students receiving their results today — the under-16s. This is perfectly illustrated by a tweet from the DfE earlier today:


We want to take the opportunity today to celebrate another group of students getting results today: the private candidates.

There are an estimated 50,000 people each year who sit GCSE, IGCSE and A level exams under their own steam. To put that into perspective, that means there are the equivalent to the population of Bognor Regis — or enough students to fill roughly 30 secondary schools — of these private candidates.

NEC CEO Ros Morpeth tells us why GCSE level education is so important:

‘GCSE qualifications are the first significant mark of formal achievement in a subject and are recognised by both employers and education providers. The grades you get at GCSE will shape the next steps of your learning journey. For example, you may need to get at least a B grade to go on to study that subject at A level or a C grade is a requirement for an apprenticeship.

‘Of all of the subjects taken at GCSE, English and maths at grade C and above have a special significance. This has been further highlighted by the government’s decision to ensure these subjects are continued post-16 if a C grade is not achieved.

‘NEC students come from all walks of life and may not have done as well as they had hoped the first time around, but this should not mean that they should be denied the opportunities to gain these qualifications.

‘That’s where NEC comes in. Our students are often people looking for a second chance, a chance to change their lives. Common choices for a career change are nursing, midwifery, teaching and physiotherapy. We are able to help people to get those all-important access qualifications to get them on track.’

Many NEC learners are living proof that you don’t have to be of school age to do GCSE level study. You can do them for the first time or as a retake at any age and it could be the first step to changing your life.

Stella Lawrence is one such student who has taken that step and had this message for her tutor and the NEC team:

‘Just wanted to let you know that I got 84%, which is an A grade! This is totally unexpected and beyond my wildest dreams.

‘I put my success firmly with you and your relentless, patience and very prompt responses throughout the 6 months.

‘The result will change my life and has made my confidence soar! I am well on my way to becoming a primary school teacher and only hope I can be half as good a mentor and teacher as you.

‘Thank you, thank you so much and all the very the best to you.’

A number of people also choose to study for the challenge it brings rather than a specific outcome. Life-long learning is a passion for many and NEC learner Catherine Speechley is an inspirational example.

Catherine has what she describes as a ‘haphazard routine’, with her hours of work constantly changing. She did well at school but was frustrated that there were some subjects she had to drop. Now in her 40s she’s catching up with the subjects she left behind and has just received her results for IGCSE French. We are proud to say that she achieved an A*. Distance learning worked for Catherine because she is very self-motivated and knows exactly how much self-discipline you need to succeed.

Our students have a strong track record of exam success and today’s GCSE results continue the trend with 9.75% of NEC GCSE and IGCSE students achieving an A* (so far — more results are still coming in!) compared to the national average of 6.5%.

Of course, it’s not good news for everyone getting their results today. NEC assessment expert Louise has some advice if you fall into this category.

‘Firstly don’t worry you’re not alone, I know how it feels. I re-took my maths GCSE after many years away from study. Now having conquered that hurdle, I feel very proud of myself and I’m glad I persevered.

‘Speak to the institution you completed your studies with and ask if you can re-sit and if there is any support to help you to do so. If they can’t help you or if you are looking to retake after several years, get in touch with us at NEC and we can help you to achieve to get the subjects you need.

‘If you are an NEC student and you have a result that is unexpected, get in touch and we will help you to investigate.’

If you want to be collecting your results and taking the next step towards changing your life, browse our website or call and speak to one of our course advisers free on 0800 389 2839.

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