SUSANNA REID: Results week was like a slow motion car crash

From red carpet to real life…SUSANNA REID: Results week was like a slow motion car crash (And today it’s my other son’s turn!)

  • Susanna Reid shares her week of carnage after her son’s A-level results arrived
  • She advises those turning to Adele’s favourite self-help book to stop reading   
  • And why the bitchiness of Selling Sunset is keeping her awake until 2am

Round two of results in our house, and this morning my GCSE son will receive his grades. There will be no algorithm, no complex ranking of classmates, no computer saying no.

Just the teachers from his state school, with full knowledge of his ability, deciding what he might have achieved in the exam hall. It will be a calmer morning than this time last week, when nerves were set to full jangle mode.

Has a generation of students — and their parents — ever experienced so much anxiety?

Last Thursday, my A-level son broke the habit of the past few months and got out of bed before lunchtime. His motivation: to be up and ready at 8am to wrestle with the UCAS website that held the key to his future.

Susanna Reid shares her week of carnage after her son’s A-level results arrived

The fact that it was overloaded and continued to crash, blocking entry to the thousands of students who were desperate to see their grades, was only the first sign of the catastrophic failure that developed over the next few hours, then days.

Once logged in, many sixth-formers were blindsided with grades that took little account of their hard work or their teachers’ assessments. They were judged by a complicated algorithm that even an A* maths student would fail to understand. University places were closed to desperate pupils like doors slamming before their eyes.

For students, this was devastating. As a mum it was heart-breaking, even though my son was lucky. I had friends WhatsApp me in desperation over their tearful children.

A friend’s daughter got a D in one of her subjects and lost her place at Edinburgh. Another has a son who was denied his Oxbridge place because his school had never been awarded an A in his subject.

As we watched the news, it emerged that the greatest unfairness involved high-achieving students at historically low-performing schools, and my boys, both at London comprehensive schools, became increasingly outraged.

It would serve Tory ministers well to remember that young people generally have a heightened sense of social justice, and being the Government responsible for a huge kick in the teeth for social mobility will not be a future vote-winner.

As my A-level son talked to disappointed friends and absorbed the consequences of the fiasco, my 16-year-old watched the unfolding chaos with a mounting sense of dread over today’s GCSE results. It was like being witness to a slow-motion car crash.

Thousands of students were left disappointed after their grades were far lower than predicted (file photo)

‘I wasn’t thinking about it before, but now I really feel worried,’ he confided as he heard the stories of students being marked down.

My boys are no strangers to my criticism of ministers, but this time it fully sank in. They realised that the failures of this Government could have a direct and immediate impact on them.

I feel sad that they’ve missed out on the key lesson of exams. You can work like a demon and see that reflected in outstanding results. Or you can fail to revise, and deal with the outcome.

But the class of 2020 has learned far harder lessons. They’ve been taught that those in charge can catastrophically let you down.

They’ve seen the man responsible, Gavin Williamson, keep his job, while the Prime Minister stays silent. These youngsters will lose their faith in authority for ever if something isn’t done urgently to address the next stage of the saga.

While teachers can sigh with relief that their predicted grades have been accepted, thousands of students are still in the dark about whether they have a place at their chosen university.

If there is anything positive to take away from this sorry debacle, it’s that youngsters made themselves heard. They saw injustice and confronted it. On social media, in interviews and at noisy protests, they made change happen.

Our tough teens have had an unexpected lesson in resilience and the unpredictability of life. They learned that those in charge don’t always have your back, and won’t always face the consequences of their ineptitude.

But you don’t have to accept it. Shout loudly enough, point out the injustice and you might just see things change.

They may take the rest of us for fools at times, but this week ministers have had their knuckles rapped by the Covid Generation.

I hope it’s a lesson those who claim to rule over us don’t forget in a hurry.

 Stop reading self-help books and start living . . .

Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living

 Like Adele, I have downloaded the latest self-help book by Glennon Doyle (pictured), Untamed.

The singer said it would ‘shake your brain and make your soul scream’, but instead it remains half-read on my phone. Subtitled Stop Pleasing, Start Living, it recommends that we all reclaim our ‘wild essence’. Now, I’m all for empowering yourself, but this book is a step too far. I’m glad that the author and Adele have found happiness, but reading it was taking up too much of my time. My advice? ‘Stop reading, start living.’

The jaw-dropping bitchiness that’s keeping me awake till 2am  

Selling Sunset, season 4 coming soon to Netflix

I am in withdrawal now that I’ve run out of episodes of high-gloss U.S. reality gossip-fest Selling Sunset.

If you haven’t seen this series about a group of money-obsessed, glamorous estate agents (pictured) flogging multi-million-dollar homes in the Hollywood Hills, plonk yourself down in front of Netflix tonight.

Every night this week, I have been awake until 2am unable to switch off before I know whether Davina will sell the ridiculous $75 million house she’s representing; Chrishell will return to the viper pit of their office in West Hollywood after her actor husband dumps her by text; and Christine will get the realistically bleeding strawberries for her Gothic-themed wedding to a billionaire.

I’m on the edge of my sofa waiting for Season 4.

Marks does have sparks

I don’t understand why people moan about M&S clothing. After the firm announced it was cutting 7,000 jobs, many have jumped on the bandwagon to say its clothes don’t appeal to anyone.

Not true! I am a massive fan. Before my holiday, I stocked up on linen dresses, fitted sleeveless T-shirts, breezy cotton overshirts and undies — which are always a reliable fit.

Browsing its swimwear, there was something for everyone, with tummy panels for those who want to cover up and deep plunges for those who dare to bare. I also buy the school uniform because it’s good value and hard-wearing.

It feels like a national sport to criticise this clothing treasure, but I’m not playing.

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