From apprenticeships to clearing, all your options if your A-level and GCSE grades are not what you wanted


DIDN’T quite make the grade this time? Don’t panic. 

While there is confusion over how the A-level grades have been decided, help is at hand — especially if your exam results, which were released on Thursday, were lower than you hoped for. 

Bad exam grades? Don’t panic, here’s what to do

With students unable to sit exams due to the pandemic, GCSE pupils in England — who get their results next Thursday — and A-level students are being promised results will be no lower than their mock exams.

To help ease inevitable concerns, we have teamed up with the National Careers Service to help you plan next steps and get back on track.

Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, says: “I know what an anxious time this is if you haven’t quite got the results you were hoping for.

“You are not alone and there is a great deal of support. There are still lots of brilliant options available.”

Here, Sophie Graham of the National Careers Service explains what to do if your grades are not what you wanted. 


  • Didn’t get the grades for uni? Consider a foundation degree or HND/HNC at the same university to help you progress to the full degree.
  • Look for alternative courses through UCAS clearing which may have lower entry requirements.
  • Start a Level 3 or 4 apprenticeship and work up to degree level.
  •  If you think you might have achieved the grades you need if you had taken exams, you will be given the option to sit your A-levels in the autumn. Or you can appeal to use your mock results. 


  • Consider taking BTECs or NVQs through a local college or training provider.
  •  Not ready for work? Take a traineeship to build your skills and confidence. See
  •  You can find out more about apprenticeships at
  • Speak with your school or college to see if you can take exams in the autumn to improve your grade, or appeal to use mock results. 
  • If you leave school with few GCSEs or even none, consider entry-level qualifications at a local college to help you with your maths and English. Then progress to higher levels of education in the future.

Nurses needed

THE NHS has issued a rallying cry to school leavers to apply to study nursing.

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, says: “In the past six months, nurses and midwives have played a leading role in the fight against coronavirus.

“Uncertain times lie ahead but the country and the NHS will always need nurses. And nursing will always offer a rewarding and varied career, making it a strong choice for any young people considering their options.”

Apply at

Meanwhile, the early careers network Springpod is offering virtual work experience with the NHS. See for details.


PUB chain GREENE KING has 150 places on its award-winning apprenticeship programme. See

Wicks’ wisdom

Joe Wicks chose something he enjoys doing for a career

FITNESS guru Joe Wicks is urging school leavers to consider a career that prioritises their mental health ahead of their wealth.

Joe, aka the Body Coach, was talking on new podcast Your Future Forward, run by digital marketing apprentices Dexter Hutchings, 21, from Epsom in Surrey, and Molly Johnstone, 19, of Leicester. Joe said: “I have never been motivated by wealth.

“Exercise was hugely beneficial for me as a child. I struggled with attention deficit disorder and behavioural difficulties. For a career, I chose something I enjoy doing.”

Listen via Spotify and follow @YourFutureForward on social media. 


BRADFORDS BUILDING SUPPLIES has school-leaver vacancies for apprentices and sales staff. Email [email protected]

Job hunt role for parents

SUPPORTING your child to make the right choices after exams can be tricky. 

Kevin Parker, boss of video interviewer HireVue, here shares his insights on helping support your youngsters. 

  1. The right role is not always their dream role. It is unlikely any school leaver will walk straight into an ideal job. But many entry-level roles provide a wealth of experience and skills that can set them on the right course. Discuss any job offers, weighing up the various pros and cons.
  2. Schools and colleges have a wealth of industry knowledge, contacts and advice to tap into. Encourage your child to get input from academic staff, careers advisers and alumni groups, as they might get a tip-off, an opportunity or an introduction that leads them to a first job. 
  1. Discuss long-term goals and the skills they need to acquire along the way. Help them think strategically about their interests and careers they might pursue long-term. 
  2. Help them prepare for a virtual interview. Research the firms and practise interview techniques online, including common questions and how they should present themselves. 
  3. Make time for them beyond the job search. Take the pressure off with fun family activities together.

GOT a story? RING HOAR on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]

Did you miss our previous article…