A level students have achieved record results this year despite lockdown, but teacher Mel Currer reassures us that God has a plan, whatever that piece of paper says

Melanie Currer

Do you remember the day when, hands trembling, you ripped open your exam results? That piece of paper seemed to hold the key to your future. The trajectory of your life would be dictated by this moment.

Young people in the UK have received their A level exam results today. These results could pave the way to further qualifications and a vast array of careers our students care passionately about, while providing important financial security. But they could also spell heartbreak for some.

What happens when failure occurs?

I remember vividly the sinking feeling of fear and disappointment when I failed my A levels. The future opened up before me like a chasm of uncertainty. I didn’t have the grades I needed to get into university and would have to retake my exams.

The disappointment of my failure was overwhelming, but I had to look at the bigger picture. Our exam results do not define us as people. Character is far more important. I made a list of my skills and strengths; not just academically, but as a whole person. This helped me take the steps needed to get to where I wanted to in life.

We shouldn’t assume that failure will lead to a bad outcome. In fact, failure has become a formative part of the journey for some of the most successful people in life. Learning how to fail well is an important life lesson in itself.

The COVID effect

Regardless of results, the pandemic has challenged parents, teachers and students in many ways. A level biology student Erin told me: “I’m an extrovert, and I’ve suffered from a lack of social interaction and learning in the classroom. I now have some social anxiety about being in large groups of people even at college, where I used to feel safe and secure…We haven’t been able to do lab experiments in lockdown, and watching someone else do them online simply isn’t the same…Now my A level result will be based on the conclusions I have drawn from others’ experimentations. I haven’t had the opportunity to show what I can do.”

On a more positive note, some students have expressed relief at being released from the relentless drudgery of the classroom routine and have thrived in their home-learning environments, cracking on with their work while playing music and finding new creative spaces to work in, with good results. Change is never easy, but the pandemic has challenged the status quo of our normal routines and many have flourished during in lockdown.

Whether students have passed or failed, struggled or thrived, we must trust God that he will work out his purposes in all our lives for good (see Romans 8:28) and that he has plans for each person’s future (see Jeremiah 29:11). Pandemics may come and go, but the word of the God stands firm forever.

Melanie Currer has been teaching A level, GCSE and functional skills for the last 24 years. A busy mum of two, Mel is committed to the mental wellbeing of her students and plays an active role in the community through her local church.