Over the past week, thousands of young people in schools and colleges across Wakefield have been anxiously collecting their A Level, GCSE and other exam results. I want to send my congratulations to you all, on what has been a great set of results.
I remember collecting my own exam results. I remember how nervous I was, tearing open the envelope, that feeling that whatever is inside – the product of several years hard work – is going to make a big difference to what happens next.
That’s why every year I am disappointed by those who seek to belittle the achievements of young people. Every year, there are the same people who say to parents and children: the only reason you have done so well is because these exams are getting easier. Well, it is not true.
The fact is results are improving because of great teaching in our schools and hard work from our students. That is the reason why last year, the number of kids in Wakefield who got 5 good GCSEs had almost doubled from a decade earlier. And this year, students across Wakefield have done us proud again.
But there will also be those who didn’t get what they hoped for and are disappointed with their results. It is important not to give up because, if you applied for university but didn’t quite get the grades you expected, there are still university places available through the ‘clearing’ system. You can get advice on applying for these places from UCAS here.
Students are working harder than ever to get good qualifications, and deserve the opportunity to reach their potential. That’s why, in government, I fought for the guarantee of a sixth form, college or training place for every school leaver.
I’m concerned that if we abandon that guarantee now, students round here will miss out and their talents will be wasted. We can’t compete for the best jobs around the world unless we’ve got the skilled people that we need.
I’ve worked with lots of schools across Wakefield district, and I know we’ve got some brilliant young people doing great things. I urge you to work hard, don’t listen to any nonsense from those who say you haven’t earned it and celebrate your successes.