“Keep your options open!” Apprentice Ambassadors on their GCSE results and what happened next!

Paddy Patterson or Maverish Ltd and founder of Oxfordshire Apprenticeships chats to Apprenticeship Ambassadors Jack and Laura about GCSE results day. Paddy has arranged a pop-up ApprenticeSHOP in Banbury from Thurs 25th - Sat 27th August for anyone looking for Apprenticeships and other careers advice. Pop along and see him!

It’s a day that fills many with doom and despair, others with joy and delight. And that’s just parents and teachers, it of course can be terribly nervewracking for students too! I can’t remember very much at all about getting my GCSE results. It was the summer of 1995 and I think I was more excited about Everton winning the FA Cup, and more interested in when the new Oasis album was coming out. I did okay, as it happened, even if at the time, a double C in Science seemed rather disappointing……

I caught up with two of the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Ambassadors, Jack Owen and Laura Cunningham, to ask them about their far more recent memories of GCSE results day and find out how they’ve fared since.

What do you remember about GCSE Results Day?

JACK (2011, Chipping Norton School):
Not a lot really!  I’d been confident that I’d get what I needed to stay on in the 6th form and so it wasn’t much of a big deal.

LAURA (2011, Magdalen College School, Brackley):
I was very nervous!

Did you have a plan in place for ‘what next’?

Yes, like most people, it was really only ever about doing sixth form. When you have a sixth form on site and it’s what all your mates are going to do, it’s pretty much the obvious thing to do.

I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. I’d explored the option of sixth form or maybe a college course.

Did you get what you needed?

Yes and I was particularly pleased with getting my Triple Science!

My English came out at a B grade, which I was not expecting at all so I felt fantastic! And after months of pain (I mean pure dedication of studying hard), I also got my C grade in Maths. I didn’t get the results I wanted in my other subjects no, I was upset, but it goes to show even if you don’t get the grades you want you still will go far with your career!

And what happened next?

So I stayed on in sixth form as planned, but it didn’t quite work out as I’d thought! I started off doing 4 AS Levels and by Christmas I’d dropped one of them. It’s fair to say my results that year forced me to have a bit of a rethink!!

Well, I didn’t end up following my plan after all. I didn’t like the idea of coursework and wanted to find something more ‘hands on’.

What led you to looking at the Apprenticeship route?

I’d done work experience in Year 12 at BMW MINI in Oxford and really enjoyed it. I applied for the next round of Apprenticeships there but didn’t get in, so went to college in Oxford for a year. 

I’m more of a hands-on person so I applied for and completed an Apprenticeship in Business Administration with Cherwell District Council and have never looked back since, having gone on to other roles!

And what are you up to at the moment?

I’m just completing the third year of my Engineering Technician Apprenticeship at BMW MINI in Oxford and preparing for my fourth year.

I have recently started a fantastic new role as a legal secretary with Freeths in Oxford. I’ve achieved so much since I did my Apprenticeship and just recently found out that I am a regional finalist for the National Apprenticeship Awards ‘Champion of the year’ category! It’s honestly the best decision I have made for myself. During my Apprenticeship, I made a 5 year career plan, I said that I wanted to be either a PA or a legal secretary and I achieved this in 4 years as well as gaining an NVQ level 3 diploma in business administration.

What advice would you give to anyone collecting results this week?

I think the best advice is to keep your options open regardless of how you’ve done. If like me, you’ve got what you needed then it’s great news but it isn’t to say that what you thought you wanted to do will totally be the right thing and you should always look at all your options. For those who haven’t got what they needed, then again don’t panic, it really isn’t the be all and end all, no matter how it feels right now. 

I think the other thing is to make your own decisions and don’t follow the crowd, or just do what your mates do, just so you can all stay together. Really think about what you are interested in and don’t be afraid to try things. Even if it doesn’t work out, it can really benefit you. When I finally got accepted for the BMW Apprenticeship, my year in college doing Engineering meant I had already covered some of the qualification, so was totally worth it!

It is a big day for you all, you will be feeling nervous, but don’t beat yourself up if you open that envelope and don’t see the grade you wanted it is not the end of the world!  Over the past few years there have been so many more opportunities for young people to progress not only from going to sixth form and then university to get a degree but from doing an apprenticeship. Speaking from my experience as an apprentice and now working in a law firm, which was my ideal life goal it’s amazing just how much you gain from doing an apprenticeship, the skills, the people you meet and the change in you as a person. I feel so confident in myself as opposed to when I was 16 and that is thanks to the Apprenticeship.