Is it okay to share your child’s 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?
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.
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.
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 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 your child’s GCSE grades online?