How to help your child when they get their results

3 minutes

Your child might not have the results they hoped for or needed and may be unsure about what to do next. We've got some practical steps you can take to support them.

Do not worry - if they're not ready to make any decisions, that's okay. We've got lots of resources to support their wellbeing, which is just as important.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

1. Look for the positives

Reassure and support your child that they still have many options open to them. This might mean that they take a different route to get the career they want. For example, instead of going to university to study engineering they might consider training through a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship. Or perhaps they could study at college before applying to university again in the future.

Foundation Apprenticeship could also be an option for your child if they're returning to school for S5 or S6. Your child can apply to take a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of their S5 or S6 subject choices over 1 or 2 years. During this time, they'll get real work experience with an employer and spend time learning at college too. Find out more about a Foundation Apprenticeship on

2. Do not rush a decision

The most important thing is not to panic. Encourage your child not to rush into any decisions, but to use their time effectively. They need to take time to process their emotions and think about what they want to do next. My World of Work has advice to help them think about their next steps.

The Strengths tool can help them see what they’re good at and offer career suggestions. They can speak to an adviser and talk about their options – find out more about Results Helpline.  

Remember that for some pupils, they may not have got the results they were expecting. This could be their first real experience of failure or feeling like they’ve let themselves or their parents down. There’s a real opportunity for them to learn valuable life lessons about dealing with disappointment and how to overcome it.

3. Let them take control

Resist the temptation to take the lead. Instead, encourage and support your child to research their own options. If your child is feeling disappointed and worried, it can be good for them to take action and feel they’re working towards a solution themselves. 

Your child will get their official SQA results by post and if they registered for the the My SQA service, they’ll also get their results by either text and/or email. If they have not got their SQA results yet, we’re still here for support. They could speak to one of our careers advisers either over the phone or by booking an appointment at an SDS career centre. They can also access lots of resources to guide them through different options.  

When they have their SQA results confirmed, get them to call and speak to the university or college admissions teams or to see what alternative courses exit on the UCAS’ Clearing pages. You could help them make a list of questions to ask during their call so they feel more prepared.  You could also ask if they want you to sit with them while they’re on the phone.

4. Understand the next steps

Understanding what options your child has can help you support them as they make their decision. 


 You can find out more about the appeals process on the SQA website.


If your child did not get the results they needed for their chosen course, they could still get a place at college or university through the UCAS Clearing process. The important thing is to make sure your child does not just go for the first thing they come across because it’s available and they have the grades.

Encourage them to consider doing something they enjoy and make sure the courses on offer give them a definite route – if slightly different from first planned – towards their preferred career.  They might find it helpful to discuss their thoughts with one of our careers advisers on our Results Helpline. A SDS careers adviser can provide information, advice and guidance to them and you about their next steps.


Resitting exams in sixth year is always an option and having already been through a course, your child will have a very good idea of what’s required. College can also be a good option for resitting Highers if your child is ready to leave school.

It’s a fresh start as well as a useful introduction to more independent study.

Some universities and competitive subjects may prioritise students who are sitting their exams for the first time over those who are resitting when they give out their offers. They should speak with the university directly to find out whether this will be an issue before they decide on this option. 


There are now 3 different kinds of apprenticeship in Scotland: Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships. To find out more about each type of apprenticeship, visit

Gap years 

A year spent working or travelling can add a great deal to a personal statement or CV. Sometimes it’s not just about getting the grades for a specific course or job. Working can provide a valuable set of practical and soft skills that future employers, colleges and universities will look favourably upon. Find out more about gap years.

The most important message to your child

The best thing you can tell your child at the moment is that they matter and they’re loved. 

You might be disappointed that the results on their certificate are not what you’d hope to see. You may be angry that they did not work harder through the school year. You’re maybe concerned about what their future will look like now the direction of their career path needs to change. Even if all these things apply, remember that your child’s value is not determined by these results and they can still go on to achieve great things. All they need is the right support and encouragement.