Exam results do not define you.

Exam results do not define you.

Eyebrows on fleek in my High School days (middle pic).

As a child I was aware that School was to be respected, attended and adhered to. I enjoyed my time in the classroom.

But being pushed in one direction or the other regarding education was not in my Mum’s nature.

Maybe she had a peace that things would work out for me and my brother. Or maybe it was because she, like me,placed more importance on the need to try one’s best and to embrace the School environment as a whole, rather than push specific results.

I “failed” my eleven plus at the age of 11 and went to a High school instead of a Grammar school.

I got a C1 instead of an A or a B. It was the start of me feeling like my grade could define who I was and I worried that my School said something about my level of “smartness”. At least that’s I how it felt, whether it was the case or not is another matter.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t lying on the ground screaming and crying over my not getting the grade to go to the School that some of my friends had gone to.

But I do remember sitting on my Mum’s bed reading the letter with the eleven plus result on there.

My mum, to her credit , made that Saturday just as special as if I had passed the test and I went to the shop to get sweets after dinner out.

I quickly learned that a high school was in fact the right fit for me.

I met great friends. We learned subjects together,played netball at quite a high level and I didn’t (really) struggle in the classroom.

Apart from maths and geography. Ironically I am now married to a Geography teacher so that in itself worked out for the best!

My GCSE’s were not hyped up as being the next defining step for me in education which I am thankful for.

But I was fully aware that they required work and my attention. 

I read the books I needed to for english and rhymed off french religiously around the house for my french oral. I love language even if it isn’t my strongest subject.

Art was my focus and I was driven to succeed in it. My natural ability and excitement for the subject meant the heavy weight of practical coursework didn’t annoy me.

I was pleasantly surprised when my GCSE results came through with an A* in Art, some A’s, B’s and C’s.


I was determined to go to a technical college but my Mum persuaded me to contact some Grammar schools and to relay my results

I was head girl in my High school, completed my duke of Edinburgh award among other extra curricular activities. Which helped my CV in many ways and were the start of my life experience outside the classroom.

My advice to any young people reading this is to sign up to SU ,gaming or outdoor activities on offer in your School if you can. Team building and vital social skills come through when you put yourself out there and join clubs/societies.

My grades were nowhere near as impressive as my peers who also interviewed to join the Grammar school to do their A levels.

Nonetheless I got a place after my interview and felt great.

I absolutely loved my time in Friends school Lisburn and enjoyed checking in on my mates from Ballynahinch high who had gone on to do skills based jobs and others who had gone the same route as me – to a Grammar school or technical college to further study.

 As Scott Mills said on radio 1 today to anyone who might not have got the grades they wanted ” the sun will still rise tomorrow, all is not lost”.

For those of you who got exam results this week – University, School or otherwise. If they were good or if they were not what you expected please know that they do not define you. Stakes might seem high right at this moment, but you can try again.

Or you can trust the route that is laid out before you. Throw your worries over your shoulder and take flight. Pull on the support you have in friends and family.

Believe in your ability and see each hurdle as a challenge to match your determination and your very own skill set.

See where I went to after I completed my A levels by reading here .

         “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr Seuss.

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