Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 03 Jul 2008

My daughter was ill during A levels. What can she do? She doesn’t want to spend her gap year doing re-sits

Hillary's Advice

Exam boards have procedures for candidates who need special consideration due to illness, accident, trauma or crisis – including a rather gruesome ladder of allowances from 1 per cent of marks for a headache, to 5 per cent for a terminal illness.
I am going to presume that your daughter got a sick note for her tonsillitis and that the school’s exam officer has notified the exam board of her illness within the suggested seven days – later applications are not guaranteed full consideration.
Don’t panic. She and you should discuss with the school her various options available when her results come out. If she is close to her required grades, she should certainly ring the university and press her case. Many are understanding about this sort of situation.
If not, and she doesn’t want to go elsewhere, she will have to knuckle down and accept the harsh reality of re-sits next year. Your job will then be to help her deal with this uncomfortable fact of life. Encourage her to plan her gap year so that she ring-fences some time for studying and some for adventures. Be patient and sympathetic, but also clear about expecting her to step up to the plate and be positive about the change of plans.
As a parent of a child whose student years have been beset by chronic illness, I know exactly how hard this can be. Parents badly want their children’s lives to go smoothly. But sometimes helping a child to accept that life sucks and they must deal with it, is the best you can do.