Across the borough over the last two weeks, students have received their A-level, T-level, B-tec, and GCSE results. Results days are always a time of great anticipation and trepidation following years of hard work. An agonising wait to open the dreaded envelope. Relief if results have gone the way you hope; a mad dash through back-up choices if they have not. Hasty preparations for a night of celebration or commiserations! It’s always a whirlwind of emotions and always takes me back to my own GCSE and A-Level results day!

Fortunately, pupils up and down the country have been able to enjoy a relatively normal school year in comparison to the chaos of previous years caused by the pandemic. Few families will forget the seismic shift to home learning, the free school meal fiasco, two tumultuous summers of cancelled exams or the Government’s screeching U-turn in 2020 on their flawed exam grading algorithm. A system that disproportionately hit state schools and unfairly downgraded two-thirds of Barnsley’s students results, leaving their futures hanging in the balance.

I’m very proud that Barnsley students achieved some brilliant results, with schools, sixth forms and colleges across the borough. That’s all down to the hard work, dedication, and tenacity of our students.

This is also the second year that some students studied for T-levels, a newly introduced qualification that’s equivalent to three A-levels. Very few providers in the UK offer this new mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience as an industry placement. But Barnsley College does, and they’ve taken advantage of the opportunity, opening the door for students into skilled employment, further study, or a higher apprenticeship. The best way of ensuring that everyone has access to good jobs that pay a decent living wage is by guaranteeing equal access to lifelong learning. I’m proud that here in Barnsley, we are leading the way. Well done Barnsley College.

Results days are also an important time to recognise all those who have supported our pupils along the way, not least parents and carers, who offer invaluable encouragement at an exceptionally stressful time. I also want to thank our incredibly hard-working teachers and staff. You never forget a good teacher, and so many have gone above and beyond to ensure that pupils get the results to take them to the next stage of their lives.

Finally, I want to send my warmest wishes to our young people who have worked so hard. If you’ve got the results you hoped for – congratulations! If not – don’t panic, take advice, speak to teachers, and family and come up with your plan B. There are plenty of options out there. Whatever the last few weeks have brought, I want to wish every student in Barnsley the very best of luck in your exciting next chapter – the future is yours to shape. Make the most of it!