Advice for parents on A-level results day - the dos and don'ts

Hannah Morrish
A Level results day is a tense time for some families. Here's some tips if your a nervous parent waiting for the big day

A-level Results Day can be stressful for everyone involved; parents, teachers and students. As a parent, watching from the sidelines, knowing how to support your teenager whatever the outcome can make a real difference.

Research by The Student Room and Bradford University in 2015 found that a third of sixth formers said their parents made them feel worse on Results Day and added to their stress levels.

If your child doesn't get the grades they are aiming for on August 15th, knowing when to take a step back and when to offer a helping hand, can help turn the day from negative to positive, so while this advice might sound obvious, take note.

Don’t ...

... keep asking whether they’ve got their results

Let your child come to you when they’re ready. It’s important not to push them to reveal their results as soon as they get them. Most students want to take some time to process the outcome, chat to friends and teachers or just be alone for a moment. They are generally going to be very emotional whether the outcome is good or bad. Let them come to you when they’re ready.

Don’t...

... compare grades to siblings

Whatever you do, don’t compare their results to those of siblings, friends or family members. You’ll be starting a conversation that’s never going to end well.

One member of The Student Room said: “I wish my parents wouldn’t compare my results to everyone else’s. It’s always going to leave someone offended or feeling bad about themselves.”

Do...

... ask if they want you there when they pick up their results

It’s best not to assume how much support your child wants on the day - everyone is different. Ask if they want you there when they collect their results and respect their decision either way - even if that’s hard to do.

Do...

... make it clear you’re proud regardless of the outcome

All students want to make their parents proud. It’s really important to make it clear you’re proud of their hard work, no matter what.

Being positive is number one on Results Day, so show your pride if things haven’t gone as planned and join them in shouting from the rooftops if they’ve made their grades. 

Don’t...

... take anything to heart

Your child is under enormous stress, so you’re almost guaranteed to say something wrong, well meaning or otherwise. Whether they want to be alone, with friends or they snap at you - don’t take it personally.

It’s better that they let out their feelings, whether positive or negative. It will mean they have a clear head to make decisions about their next steps.

Do...

... make sure you've done your research

Being fully prepared to give your child the best advice is really important. Whatever the outcome of their results, read up on all of the options available to them so that you are in the best place to give help and guidance.

If your teenager doesn't get the grades they need for their firm or insurance choice university, they can go through Clearing to try for a place at another university. If they did much better than expected, they can use Ucas Adjustment to 'trade-up' and potentially apply to a university with higher grade requirements.

There are also a huge range of alternatives to university, including gap years, apprenticeships and more.  Make sure they are aware that if they are unsure about what to do next, they do not have to make any snap decisions.

Research shows that parents are among the most influential people in students' lives and can unintentionally add to stress on important days, such as August 18.

The advice is the same for parents as it is for students: research ahead of time and be prepared for all options to avoid panic.

Read more: Your A-level results-day checklist: a stick-on-the-fridge guide 

Hannah Morrish, education community manager,The Student Room