Poet and mental health campaigner, Hussain Manawer has written a powerful new poem encouraging young people to look past exam results, due next week, after new research from FutureLearn showed pre results day panic is at an all-time high.
FutureLearn, the UK’s leading online learning platform, can reveal that the pandemic has increased results day anxiety according to 54% of young people expecting exam results this summer. The new research of 1000 UK students aged 16-22 found, of those surveyed who are expecting exam results this summer, 41% said they were worried they would not be able to get into university and 25% that they would not be able to get a job if their grades were not as they had hoped.*
In response, FutureLearn commissioned ground-breaking poet Hussain Manawer to write a new work which was influenced by the research, entitled “Your Future’s Good”. The poem includes messages that reveal Hussain’s own results day struggle; “my whole life was allegedly determined by these letters on these small pieces of paper” painting a familiar picture for many young people who shared the emotions they are experiencing ahead of results day in the video. Hussain also talks about how he was seen as a failure due to his results.
The research unearthed that home life, not just school life, is affecting young people’s confidence levels. Pressure from parents as well as a need to constantly “be seen as achieving” has elevated expectations and fears around results day, with 51% of those expecting results believing they’ll disappoint their family if their results aren’t as expected. Self-love is a top concern with a whopping three quarters (72%) who believe they’d be disappointing themselves.
However, there is optimism for the future among young students. Many are excited to start the next chapter of their lives with 52% admitting that an education will allow them to stand up for what they believe in. Saving the planet is now a key motivator in education and as a result, with half (50%) wanting to slow the effects of climate change.
After months of lockdown and travel restrictions, it’s no surprise that only 10% of young people expecting their results this summer want to travel and see the world once exams are over, with more surveyed (35%) opting to further or continue their education.
Further education after exams is not a surprising discovery, however the research highlights that more young people than ever are considering entrepreneurship as a legitimate pathway. with close to two-fifths wanting to set up their own business in the next ten years, with 67% of people wanting to grow their skills and abilities during their lifetime[i].
Poet Hussain Manawer (he/him), said: “Young people have so many external factors that put pressure on them and increase their anxiety when all you can do is try your best. I thought that getting poor grades would not only disappoint my family and friends but mean I wouldn't be able to get a job or earn enough money to provide for myself. This had a really adverse effect on my mental health. It was a really difficult period of my life. If given the opportunity again, I’d tell my younger self that your future is good. There is a world of possibilities out there that will not be defined by your exam results”.
Liz Le Breton (she/her), Brand Director at FutureLearn said: "Exam results are one of those moments where we all hold our breath and think about a generation of students who have passed through systems, structures, challenges, and opportunities to arrive at an important personal milestone. The pandemic has incubated inequalities and asked new questions of learners and educators alike. Hussain was the perfect artist to send a message of hope and reassurance to anyone listening that unlocking your potential is a lifetime’s work and no matter your age, race, colour or background there are new tools to help you achieve your goals''.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, FutureLearn has seen a dramatic increase of over 125% in learners enrolling on courses, compared to the same period the year before, with millions of new learners signing up every quarter. FutureLearn has re-written the narrative for young people’s educational choices, and the traditional pathway is no longer the only way to achieve the future of their dreams. Regardless of a successful results day or not, the FutureLearn platform has been designed to help learners of all ages unlock their potential through accessible, social online learning.
Your Future’s Good
I remember results day clearly, to be honest, I was seen as a failure
Had to take a walk through the park that morning ‘cos I needed the peace and quiet that came with nature.
Some people did good,
I wasn’t even trying to give off the vibes of a hater.
But I was confused,
annoyed at everything but baffled that my whole life was allegedly determined by these letters on these small pieces of paper.
But from then I realised my future was dependent on what I learn
and only I was in control of that behaviour.
Believe me, I get anxiety,
how it creeps up on you silently,
affects your self-esteem and self-belief quietly.
But times are changing, it’s a whole new world to what our parents grew up in, entirely.
When I failed I didn’t listen to my grades,
I didn’t let them decide my future for me,
from that day I took control of my fate,
there’s no way they were going to write this story for me.
That’s what you do, you make it probable.
Understand you’re powerful.
Smash every glass ceiling, break apart every obstacle.
Changing all the odds,
it’s way more than possible.
The subject of you winning in life...
that’s one subject that’s not optional.