Exam results do not always mean failure

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With the GCSE and A-level results out, I remember only too well what it feels like to be classed as a failure and therefore, with this very much in mind perhaps my own experiences will at least provide the belief that anything is still possible.

Clearly, all young people are extremely vulnerable, and I found myself caught-up in the pernicious 11-plus system, whereby a small percentage of children are creamed-off to grammar school with the rest, at such a young age, already called failures.

So in the 1960s, I attended a secondary which, for its “type” was supposedly quite good. Yet, I now realise the teaching left much to be desired and, coupled with being labelled, and feeling, a failure, I left school without any qualifications and started my working life as an apprentice motor mechanic, attending college and passing my City and Guilds.

However, in my 20s, I started on the path of formal education. Thus, over a period of time I passed six A-levels, attended three universities and, after attending Nottingham Law School, I was called to the Bar. I recently passed my Law Society examinations to also become a solicitor.

I am very proud of my academic achievements, but more importantly, it hopefully highlights what a “failure” can achieve with determination and tenacity.

James E Slater LL.B, MA, MPhil, via email

The alternative to university

OVER the next month, thousands of potential students will be considering whether university is the right route for them.

The cost of university is rising to as much as £30,000, but not wanting to burden yourself with this level of debt doesn’t mean a professional career is beyond you.

Many professional bodies such as ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) don’t require a degree.

Studying for a professional qualification instead of choosing to complete an undergraduate degree can have a number of advantages.

You can earn valuable practical experience while completing your qualification, which could put you three years ahead of your peers.

University could be an important part of your development, but it is worth considering whether it is something you want to do, or are doing because you think it is the logical next step.

Ann Lucas,


Monopoly fears for rail routes

VIRGIN had a monopoly on sections of the West Coast Main Line and travel between Oxenholme and Carlisle was among the most expensive in the country.

And generally, it held a monopoly on traffic from north west of Crewe to London. However, this was broken up when First Trans Pennine won parts of Virgin’s Crosscountry division.

Now, we know FirstGroup has won the West Coast Main Line franchise, together with rumours it could be a preferred bidder for Northern Rail. Now, if that’s not a monopoly, what is?

Kit Rogers, Kendal