HAVING worked in local journalism for more than a decade, I have covered my fair share of GCSE results days.

It is a happy occasion for many, as the wait is finally over and all the hard work concludes dramatically with the opening of an envelope, futures sealed inside.

The overwhelming relief is clearly painted on the faces of the pupils – whether they got the grades they wanted or not – the day signals the end of months of exams and the end of an era.

Carefree, hopeful and excited for the future, watching these young people ready to embark on their next chapter has always felt like somewhat of a privilege.

I therefore can’t help but feel for the 16-year-olds waiting to discover their results this week. Because this year’s GCSE results day will be very different indeed.

There will be no spontaneous hugs of congratulations or consolation outside the school gates. Covert plans to celebrate or commiserate together may be marred by guilt, holding far more risk than that of drinking too much alcohol and parents finding out.

Reading through guidelines sent to pupils by some secondary schools in Basingstoke, the day will instead be regimented, meticulously risk-assessed, and void of all spontaneous joy.

A letter sent by Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College informs students that only those collecting their results will be allowed on site, where they will be asked to line up outside and enter in turn when told to do so, with a one-way system in operation.

“We understand students may wish to support, congregate or celebrate with their friends after collecting their results, but this must obey social distancing guidance and groups will be moved on by staff if necessary,” it warns.

Anyone without a facemask will not be allowed in the building.

Some schools have decided not to hold a results day at all.

I feel for these young people, who have had their final weeks at school taken away from them, along with the chance to excel in their exams, which were never sat.

I imagine that glorious sense of relief, having spent months revising, followed by hours sat in exam rooms, won’t be there for these students, who may instead feel either a sense of unjust that their results don’t reflect what they could have achieved, or undeserving of grades they may never have achieved.

The stress in the lead up to this Thursday must now be exacerbated following the fiasco of last week’s A level results day, which saw nearly 40 per cent of students achieve lower grades than predicted by their teachers.

Young people are often given a hard time by the public; blamed for spreading Covid-19, accused of ‘snowflake’ type behaviour if they dare complain, judged for congregating in groups, and given a lack of empathy over their current exam situation.

Perhaps, come GCSE results day this Thursday, we could all take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of these young people. They deserve our empathy, understanding and support for a situation which has been completely out of their control.