August 1989 – GCSE Results Day

August 1989 and it’s GCSE results day. I go into school to await the shock of my then 16 year old life. We were the second cohort to ever sit the new GCSEs as O-levels had gone out of political fashion.

Here are my results from that day:

Maths B (pass)
Chemistry C (pass)
Biology D (fail)
PE D (fail)
Geography D (fail)
Art E (fail)
English E (epic fail)

Wow that was a shocker. Never an ‘A-student’ but I didn’t expect that. Failed all but two of my GCSEs! Many years later my validations were confirmed that I had in fact attended the ‘worst ever school’ it was in Moss Side in Manchester. Those results were pretty poor back then and by today’s standards I would have been consigned to the scrap heap.

I did a year of resits then scraped into Manchester university with below average grades. It wasn’t until my second year at Manchester where I really started to shine. I had beaten Brian Cox (former band member of D:ream now professor and famous TV personality) in the terminal physics exam. 18 months later in 1995 I ended up at Selwyn College, Cambridge to start a PhD in physics!

Every child matures at a different rate. If you don’t get the results you hoped for today please do not despair. This is not your defining moment. There are so many more opportunities out there today than there was for me all those years ago. Good luck!


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