Belfast Telegraph: Brian Doran - Yesterday at 06:00

Principal and Chief Executive of Southern Regional College, Brian Doran, shares his advice ahead of the publication of A-level, BTEC and GCSE results

After all the months of studying, and waiting, results day can be daunting for both students and their parents and guardians. With results days on the horizon, here are 10 tips that I hope will be helpful for parents and guardians.

Have conversations ahead of results day

Talk to your child about their future plans and be positive about the milestone they have reached. Give your child the opportunity to voice their hopes and worries about the future whilst being there to offer advice and guidance. Reassure them there are many options open to them, especially through our local Further Education colleges.

Be aware of all options

Quite often, young people will have a very firm idea of the path they need to follow after school and will see anything else as a failure. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about all the options that will help them get to the next stage in their education. Conversations like this allow you to work together to come up with a plan, so your child sees results day as something to be welcomed rather than feared.

Find out more about alternative pathways

If your child does not get the A-level grades they wanted, they don’t have to move away. There are plenty of higher education options right here. Northern Ireland’s six Further Education Colleges offer a range of degree qualifications and Higher National Diplomas that are in high demand from local employers or alternatively allow them to progress to university.

Likewise for GCSEs. We now have a range of pathways, such as our new NI Traineeships. The traineeships equip students with experience in the workplace, valued skills, and the equivalent of five GCSEs (grades A-C), enabling them to progress to further study or the workplace.

Get ready for clearing

If your child didn’t get a place on their chosen course, they can still use the UCAS clearing system to seek an alternative.

In addition, all of Northern Ireland’s Further Education Colleges operate their own direct application system, have a full list of available courses on their websites, and will host their own information events throughout August. Visit for further details of what’s on offer at each college.

Consider a vocational pathway to success

If your child isn’t sure that a university experience is right for them, consider a vocational pathway to obtain higher-level skills and qualifications.

Higher-level vocational qualifications focus on the knowledge and skills people need for a particular job and the pandemic has shown how reliant our economy is on vocational roles in health and social care, computing, IT, and manufacturing.

Be mindful of Higher-Level Apprenticeships

Consider talking to your child about doing a higher-level apprenticeship to earn as they learn.

This means they receive a recognised professional qualification and valuable work experience at the same time. Further Education Colleges offer higher-level apprenticeships in a wide range of priority areas like civil engineering, industrial science, and accountancy.

Talk to a careers adviser

During the results period, advisers in the Further Education College careers teams can give you and your child unbiased advice, helping to match their ambitions with a course and career. There are so many exciting options out there.

Celebrate the result

Results day is a rite of passage for young people. Regardless of the result, this is the start of a new chapter in their life that should be celebrated.

Be the voice of calm

Results day can be a very worrying and anxious time for your child. Instead of rushing into a decision surrounding your child’s future, be the voice of calm and weigh up all options before making any decision.

Keep things in perspective

There can be pressure on young people to see this day as either a success or a failure. Remind your child that this isn’t the case and, while their results may directly relate to what they do next, it does not decide what they can achieve in the future.

Results Day

Need advice? come see us this Thursday or Friday in Dungannon, Enniskillen or Omagh 9:30-3:30pm.