We’re proud of their amazing results, but is it ok to share GCSE grades online?

share GCSE grades onlineIs it okay to share GCSE grades online?  Or are you committing the mortal sin of being tacky, boastful or just making other people feel bad?

It’s exam season and in another month or two we can expect social media to be packed with parents of teens congratulating their children on their GCSE, A-Level or other exam results.

And that means the arrival of the age-old question – is it okay to share your child’s exam results online?

Should you share GCSE grades with the world?

On one side of the fence are the parents who say (quite rightly) that they’re really proud that little Tom has got 9 A*s and is off to study five A-Levels at sixth form college. Tom worked really hard and what’s the point if you can’t let your friends and family know how proud you are of your kids, once in a while.

(Sidenote: if you’re not sure how the new GCSE 1-9 grades work, here’s a quick primer)

And on the other side there are those who worry that sharing Tom’s results might upset Tom’s friend or his little brother, who are less academic, and might now feel their 4s and 5s are a bit less impressive.

Praise the effort not the outcome

For what it’s worth, one of the few solid pieces of parenting wisdom that I’m confident in is this: As parents, it’s essential that we praise our children for the effort, not the outcome. That doesn’t mean going teary-eyed and giving out participation awards and saying, “Oh, good try darling,” when little Toby manages to spell his name right on his English paper.

is it okay to share GCSE results online

It means that if your child works hard, and consistently, and gets a result that represents THEIR best effort, then the grade should be largely irrelevant to you, as a parent.

I know that my teenager started revising in the summer holidays after Year 10. She sat down to do two hours of study, five days a week. She worked through a massive revision planner so that by the time September came around she had covered most of the curriculum already.  She then spent eight weeks memorising the material and completing dozens of  practice papers. Before her second set of mock exams, she spent about six weeks covering all the material and doing another chunk of practice papers.

Regardless of Flea’s grades, I wanted her to be very clear that I was proud of her because she’d worked so hard. The results she got were a fair reflection of that hard work, and represented a great result for her. There were kids with higher grades and lower grades, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that Flea had shown determination and commitment and a really solid work ethic.

It’s okay to share your child’s GCSE grades online!

All of that said, life is full of things we pass and fail, or assign numbers.

Maybe you won a sporting match 5-0. Perhaps your child won 3 badges at scouts, or hit Grade 6 in piano. Maybe you passed your driving license, or got a distinction in a piece of coursework for your degree.

I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to celebrate numbers. Sometimes numbers mean a lot.

Flea has struggled with maths for a long time. For years, she’s gone into maths exams and her mind has gone completely blank. She’s worked so hard these past couple of years with maths tutors. For pretty much 12 months solid, she’s done a practice maths paper every week, slowly, slowly dragging her marks up as she gained more confidence.

posting GCSE grades online

My daughter needs a grade 5 in maths to get into the specific sixth form she wants to attend. In her first mock exam, she missed a Grade 5 by 2 marks, and I could have cried for her. So you’d better believe when she scored a Grade 6 in her second mock, I posted about how pleased I was for her on my Instagram page.

What if it upsets people?

I do accept the argument that Parent A sharing a bunch of top grades on social media might make Parent B or Parent B’s child feel a little put out, because their grades were not as high.

But surely the issue is how much importance we assign the grades?

I’m as happy to celebrate Flea (God willing) getting a 5 in maths as I am her getting a 9 in English. If she’s worked hard and done her best then the grade she receives will be worthy of celebrating. Just because someone else might share that their child got a 9 in maths doesn’t mean I won’t want to squeeze Flea until she pops if she gets a 5.

I tend to think there’s a life skill here, in teaching our kids some useful life lessons. Like:

  • Lots of people are good at different things. So that child that gets amazing exam results might not be great at sport, or might struggle to have confidence, or might not be able to fix things. Everyone deserves to be celebrated for the things they’re good at.
  • It’s important to be kind and gracious when you’re the one performing objectively better. That means not saying things like, “Oh, thank God I didn’t get a 6, I would have died,” or “What an idiot, she only got a 3 and that exam was so easy.”
  • If you’re the one that’s performed less well, that’s okay. If you worked hard and did your best, then you should be proud of what you DID achieve. And if you didn’t work hard and you didn’t do your best, well, that’s a life lesson too.

Should you share GCSE grades on social media?

This is a pretty new debate we’re having. Pre social media, Mums and Dads would do the rounds of the family on the phone, sharing the exam grades. I can’t the only one old enough to remember the “you got an ‘ology? You’re a scientist!” commercial?

Social media brings new questions of manners and etiquette into play. First and foremost, what does your child think? If they feel uncomfortable with you posting their grades on Facebook, then it’s simple. Don’t do it.

Back in the day, phoning 10 relatives seemed entirely normal. But when you’re sharing with those 10 people on social media and the post is actually broadcast to 250 acquaintances, it’s not surprising if these posts come off as – well – a bit boastful.

That probably worries many of us more than the hurt feelings argument. Social media can be pretty brutal if someone is deemed to be ‘showing off’, sometimes. And there’s also something a bit icky posting a “Congratulations Sophie” on Facebook when Sophie is not your Facebook friend (because you are old and lame), and you’re really just looking for people to make YOU feel good by posting the news.

It might be more appropriate if you have a LOT of friends or followers on a social media account to share grades with close friends and family rather than EVERYONE you know. Rather than blasting Little Sarah’s grades to your 12,000 Twitter followers, maybe just share with 25 friends and family on Facebook?

What do you think? Is it okay to share GCSE grades online if they aren’t yours? 



6 thoughts on “We’re proud of their amazing results, but is it ok to share GCSE grades online?”

  1. I won’t be sharing my girl’s grades. She has tried to the best of her ability but to be honest it’s been a struggle just to get her to turn up for an exam. She hasn’t worked well at home, and refused all extra help. Sometimes I feel like a bad Mom for not having higher aspirations for her, but if she has done okay then I’m happy, if she’s failed everything, we’ll get by. We already have plan B ready, and she’s a college place booked which is so flexible that she can re-do her GCSEs along with her chosen course.

    1. I don’t think it’s bad parenting at all! Our kids have had a ridiculously tough year, and they’re now in a situation where they’re all being measured by a different standard. I suppose what I feel is that if I think Flea works hard and does her best and gets a three then FANTASTIC, I’m so proud of her for doing her best in a really tough situation. And part of me thinks why should Flea feel that her 3 or 4 or 5 is any less impressive than a 9 from someone who is naturally talented at maths and didn’t work as hard? Of course I’m proud!

      I don’t feel I shouldn’t talk about when she wins a hockey match playing for the third or fourth or fifth team just because it isn’t the first team. She’s doing her best and having fun and I couldn’t be prouder of that. I suppose that’s what I mean by praising the effort not the outcome.

  2. My son did his GCSEs last summer – which meant he got Centre Assessed Grades. Fortunately he had worked consistently well all through the course and had a set of excellent results from mocks (except perhaps for German!) However when the results came out, I didn’t end up saying anything specific on social media about it, other than that he had done very well and we were proud. We only told immediate family – grandparents and uncles / aunts.
    I did worry about coming over very coy about it. But I was more worried about seeming to boast. I am quite happy to wait for people to ask – but I find that though I get the impression they would like to know, my friends are very restrained in asking. Maybe this is because they feel it’s a delicate area too.

    1. Totally true! I think it’s a lot of this – we’re worried about seeming boastful, but also many of us are naturally proud and curious.

      I wonder also if it’s about how we value exam grades differently to other things our kids do – as though if it’s not a TOP grade, we look foolish celebrating that. Which is piffle. I have a child who struggles with maths and particularly maths exams – and if she comes out with a 5 then that represents some real hard work and achievement and I will be SO proud because for her, that would be a great result. I don’t feel any less that way because someone else gets a 7 or 8 or 9. We all should be celebrating all our kids’ achievements because one day that child with a 9 in maths won’t be as good as Flea at something else. It all evens out in the end.

  3. I would never share my daughter’s grades online (assuming she gets excellent results – obviously disastrous results wouldn’t be announced). I would share her grades with grandma and shower her with praise and pride. There’s no logic in this because if she were chosen for a national sports team with the possibility of competing in the olympics, I’d be shouting it from the roof tops. If she recieved a special award for community service, if she wrote and recorded a song album, if she were picked for a part in a West End show, if she had great success in almost any field other than academics, I’d want everyone to know. I don’t know why academic success should be the only achievement that’s suppressed and faintly embarrassing to admit. Very unfair but there it is.

    1. You read my mind! It’s a very illogical distinction, isn’t it? And that makes me wonder whether – on some level – we view kids’ grades as a reflection on ourselves more than their other achievements or disappointments. Therefore we worry more about being boastful, or being embarrassed by the comparison with higher achievements. It’s SO WEIRD.

      Flea has some amazing marks and I’m proud of those. And she has a couple where she’s honestly going to scrape through by the skin of her teeth and I’m JUST as proud of those because she’s worked so hard at something she’s found difficult. But I find this faint disapproval of talking about it weird and it feels like just another thing where parents are pitching themselves against one another to argue they’re doing it the “right” way and everyone else is “wrong”.

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