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Sleepless nights, dry mouth and racing thoughts can only mean one thing for me; GCSE results day is looming. Of course it passes most people by. Unless you have relatives of that age, or are a teacher like me, results day is just another agenda on the news. But if you really think about it, it can be a little bit depressing. Unemployment is at a record high, universities will put you in debt and apprenticeships have become extinct. Is this a future you would like to be staring at?

It is all a bit doom and gloom isn’t it? But a recent trip to the cinema has showed me that Disney has the answer. So a recent trip to the cinema with my son really made me think about the paths we take in life. In many children’s films, we are taught that good always triumphs over evil and that if you try hard enough all of your dreams can come true. But we all know that this doesn’t mirror reality.

When I was growing up, all I ever wanted to be was a national newspaper journalist. I tried hard at school, college and university and then was lucky enough to land a job at the News of the World. The disappointing fact was that I hated it. So I dusted myself off, went back to university and trained to be a teacher. I suppose the message is that I got there in the end. So I was really impressed to find a poignant message at the end of Disney’s latest blockbuster ‘Monster’s University.’ Desperate to be Scarers, Mike and Sully take the most obvious route and enrol in a scaring degree at the prestigious university. I won’t spoil it for you, but they end up being thrown out…their dreams in tatters. But instead they apply as cleaners at 'Monsters Incorporated', doing it the old fashioned way and working their way up gradually, finally achieving their dream. Perhaps you see where I am going with this?

It all stems back to 1997 and those euphoric first years of New Labour. In the vein of 'Bugsy Malone', our young people were told that we could be “anything we wanted to be.” No matter how unrealistic. Universities popped up everywhere. Many doled out degrees which required little academic talent and offered zero prospects. Suddenly everyone was a graduate and the apprenticeships dried up. A pity really, as graduate jobs dried up shortly after. Indeed, there was a joke when I was in the national media that a degree in Media Studies was a fast-track to a call centre position.There is a total lack of realism. Reality TV stars have people looking to become instant celebrities, millionaires and number one pop stars without putting the graft in.

Sometimes I find it quite difficult to advise the kids in my form what to do for the best. Many of them feel pressured to go to university, like it is the only option. Hence the massive outpourings of grief when their results do not match up to expectations: they feel that their lives are over before they have even begun. So if you know someone who is disappointed this week, let them have a watch of Monsters University…the road to their future may not be as straight as they imagined, but it will lead to them fulfilling their potential. Eventually.

By Coco Fierce

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