– It is currently exam
result season in the UK. A time of high emotions. Maybe you got the results
you were expecting. Maybe you did far better
than you were expecting. Or maybe you only made
it through to one exam before paralyzing your arms,
being rushed into hospital, and told by a consultant that you really couldn’t continue with your exams because it would probably kill you. Relatable content, huh? Subscribe if you haven’t already. There are lots of amazing
stories on YouTube about people studying really hard and achieving amazing grades. I recently made friends
with some absolutely lovely StudyTubers, Eve,
Jack, Ruby, and Jade who do a podcast together
called The Wooden Spoon. And who are delightful human beings. What I’m not seeing is
a lot of content about what happens when things go really wrong and how you can actually
recover from that. I mean, not everyone has a
smooth journey in education or even in life and it’s important that those of us who
didn’t complete every year like we were supposed to
or took a very winding path to where we wanted to be or even just dropped out and went
off to do something else know that we’re not alone. So I sat down with my wife Claudia who had an academic journey
that looked like this. (light music) Compared to mine which took
like this (airplane rumbling). To have a conversation about how we find the happy places that we’re in today. I really want you to share your stories in the comments as well
and if you’re feeling like, oh, no, no one else has ever
been in my position before, I can guarantee you that someone else will probably be able to relate. Don’t be shy and if you
see someone who needs some kind words, please go
share a little love at them. Remember, you are not alone
and having a wonky education is not the end of the world. You will find your way. So, on with the conversation. Hi, wife.
– Hi, wife. – So I decided that we
should have a little chat about exam results because we have incredibly different life histories when it comes to school and results. Because how many schools did you go to? – Two. – How many schools did I go to? – Seven.
– Yeah. I apologize, also, for my voice. I am very ill but. So, I think it’s really
important to talk about because a lot of the
stuff around exam season and people getting
results and it’s all like, wow, amazing, how exciting! You know, the kids, they
always take pictures of on exam results date and they do the jump because everyone has to have a jump photo for some reason.
– Oh, I see, yeah. Like, woo-hoo, free!
– I bet you were in a jump photo.
– No, I was not. – I bet someone would have wanted to put you in a jump photo. – Probably, seeing that I was probably one of the only ethnic of the– (Jessica laughs)
Whites in the school. I was often in the school catalog for that little bit of representation. – Just bring you out. Oh, it’s Christmas.
– Yeah. – Wait, make her Mary. – No, I think I did feature–
– We’re diverse. – I think I actually
featured on the front cover. – Sure, Surrey’s a diverse place. They want you to know it. – Yeah. Talking of which, that
is one of the reason why my sister and I got
sent to a nice, little private primary school. Yeah, we were like, why did you send us to a private primary school? Like what is the point of spending money on primary education, you know? Especially when you don’t
have that much money. Dad was like, “Oh, look,
well, Dad was bullied “when he was little.”
– Yeah. – And he just thought, he grew up in Dover and anyone who was not white was picked on ’cause it was quite racist in his day. – This story needs to point out that your dad is the white parent though. – Yeah, my dad is white, yeah. He was bullied for being a boff, I guess.
– Aw. – I mean, maybe he wasn’t bullied, but he always, I don’t
know, I just assume he was. (both laughing) He said that was the main reason he sent me and my sister
to a primary school because he thought the
class sizes are smaller, the teachers are less likely to pick on the kids in that sense and also the other kids would
then less likely pick on. – So, then, would you say
you had a pretty smooth educational history? Like you went to primary school, you just changed to a secondary school. – Yeah. – They taught you stuff. – Yeah, I did the–
– You passed some tests. – Yeah, so–
– Do you even remember? What were your exam results? – For what?
– GCSEs, what did you get? – Well, let’s start earlier. For, what are they called? – [Both] SATs. – Quick explainer for those
of you who aren’t British, we go to primary school
from the age of five to 11 and secondary school from 11 to 18. We take SATs at the end of primary school, that’s 11 years old, and
at the end of the first three years of secondary school. So that’s 14 years old. There are then two
years of working towards our GCSE exams from 14 to 16 where you’ll do between
five to 10 subjects followed by two years of A level exams, that’s 16 to 18, where
you generally narrow down to three or four subjects. – For SATs, I think I got, what is it, like, five, five, six or something? Is that even a thing?
– You got to do six? You got to the six paper?
– Yeah. – They didn’t have that in my school. – I think it was like five, five, six. I think six was in science and the five and five
were in math and English. Is that how it worked, I can’t remember. This is a long time ago.
– Science, what? – I swear we did the science–
– This was a while ago. – I might be making this up. I was only 10 or 11 years old. Yeah, so I might not
have got a five in maths ’cause that maths was pretty bad. – Your maths is terrible. – My maths has got worse with age. I actually was gonna do maths a F, a S level, can you remember AS levels? – Yeah, but also– – Yeah, I was doing maths and statistics and I started to do that, God knows why, and there was only three other girls because, again, I went to a very good secondary private school where there weren’t many
people in the school. Anyway, there were only three other girls doing this class.
– Yeah. – And the teacher was
like, I’ve kinda diverted, I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent here. And they were like,
“Okay, so to warm you up “after the school holidays,
we’re gonna do some GCSE level,” what are they called? Equal?
– Equations. – Yeah, equations (laughs). There’s a name for them, though. That type that you find out what the, you have to prove what the answer is. Some apparently very
simple GCSE level equations and, anyway, I realized at
the end of this class that I needed to not be in this class (Jessica laughs)
because I was on question three and everyone else was on question 16, 17. One of my proudest moments was that I made a decision for myself. I know. ‘Cause my education was
very much spoon fed. I went down to the staff
room, knocked on the door, and said, “I need to speak
to the head of year.” And she was like, “Okay,” and, anyway, I was like, “Look, I’ve
made a wrong choice. “I don’t want to do maths statistics. “Can I change to a different subject?” And she’s like, “What do
you want to change to?” And I was like, “English Literature.” Okay, well, let’s just see if
it works with your time table and luckily it did.
– Okay. – And then that was that.
– Excellent. – The reason I did maths
statistics, actually, was because the careers
advisor at school told me if I wanted to be an architect, which I did at the time
of being 16 years old, that I would have to have maths. ‘Cause then I went to university and I met some architectural students, they were like, “No,
you just needed to have “something that had maths in it, “like chemistry or physics
would have been fine.” I was like, “I was frickin’
doing chemistry and physics.” This is a lesson to be learned. Don’t listen to careers advisors unless yours is particularly good. – Yeah, actually, fill out your own path. You know yourself best.
– Yeah. Who can dictate, like, they’re a careers advisor
at school, for God’s sake. They haven’t really got– – Who’s met you for 20 minutes. – They haven’t really got
that far in life and they’re– (Jessica laughs)
And then they’re telling– – They’ve not gone far,
don’t listen to that. – And then they’re telling
you you need this subject or you can’t fulfill your dream job. And then if you can’t do that subject like I was with maths, I was like, well, that’s it, I can’t
be an architect now. – And it’s not true.
– It wasn’t true. – Oh, gosh.
– Anyway, where were we? – Your exams, did you pretty much get everything that they predicted? – Pretty much, I mean, yeah. I did nine in total. I got one B. I got three A stars, five As. – (laughs) Yes.
– Yeah, one B. – That makes nine, that makes nine. – Yeah, yeah, yeah.
– Wow, wow. – Guess what I got a B in? – French?
– No, but fair enough. History. – And then were your A levels?
– And then A levels, well, AS level, I did English Literature and Critical Thinking. I got an A, God, I can’t remember. This is the point. – This is the point of this video, people. If it feels like it
matters so much right now, but I swear to you, it doesn’t. Wait ’til you hear my story, though. – And then A levels, I got A, A, B. – Lovely.
– And I got B in chemistry. No, sorry, it was two marks off an A, so I sent it back to be remarked. You have to pay to get it remarked. It was like 50 quid or something. And then they sent it
back one mark off on A. I was like, screw you! I should have slipped an extra
50 quid into that envelope. – You got to university. – Got to university. – Got to do the thing you wanted to do. Graduated.
– Yeah. – With a–
– 2:1. – 2:1, did another course at university. – Yeah. – Graduated with a?
– A honors. – Lovely. (both laughing) – Yeah, well, with dentistry, you don’t get 2:1 or first.
– Oh, you don’t? – You can’t really be a first dentist. Third dentist.
– You’re an okay dentist. – Yeah, no, I just passed– – You pass or you–
– You pass with honors in that it’s honors if you
have had distinction and merit like throughout each year. – But you also didn’t take any breaks between your education at all. – Oh my God, no. I was at university for seven years. That’s the same amount of
time I was at high school. – And you didn’t take a gap
year after school either. – No. Or after university. – So you were in full-time
education until you were 25. – Yeah. – And then you started working full-time. – On hindsight, I wish
I had had a gap year. And my mum actually said to me, “I think a gap year would
have been good for you.” ‘Cause I did our A level
and I actually think I would have really benefited from doing an art foundation year
rather than being like I’ve got to go and do
a valid, worthy degree. – It has always left you
with that burning passion of the question unanswered. What if? – I was very much like that in
my mid-20s, when you met me. – The first three years
of our relationship. – Yeah. But I think–
– I need to find my passion. – And now I’m over that.
(Jessica laughs) Well, I’ve kind of moved
more towards photography now. – Yeah, which is an art.
– Because that’s useful to you and it’s less messy.
– And it’s fun. – Yeah. It’s either photography or stone carving. It’s really clean or really, really messy. – My journey in education was perhaps not as smooth. Not quite, not quite the same. I was a very ill and sickly child. I was forever, there was
something wrong with me, whether it was a cold
or I had injured myself which was near constant. That was what adults like
to call a hypochondriac and what I like to call
doing my goddamn best. But I was very good at school. That’s the one thing I was very good at. I was quite a bright little child and I really enjoyed school, I really enjoyed learning things. I used to love reading. At one point, I thought I had hyperlexia which is where you have
to constantly be reading because I just wanted to know
everything about everything. Every time there were words,
I just had to read them. But, unfortunately, physically, school was a bit of a struggle and throughout my primary school years, I probably went to school
only four days a week because I just physically,
by Friday was like no. – You told me a different
version of that story. You told me that your
mother didn’t believe in primary school education particularly and took you out to go to live
drawing classes on Fridays. – Yeah, she did. No, I mean, by Friday I was like, I’m tired, I don’t want to go to school and she was like, “Okay,
let’s go to live drawing.” – Okay, well, to be honest,
that’s probably quite good. You are very good at drawing now. – Oh, yeah.
– And maybe that’s why you got a love for the female form. – Yes, I became a lesbian
thanks to live drawing classes. See if it works for you. And then when it came
time for secondary school, I went to a lovely Quaker school that was also a private
school in Somerset. Quaker values, as I explained before, are very much about equality and openness and it was just a really good
learning environment for me but also, physically, was quite beneficial in that we weren’t carrying around bags with loads of books in because our books were kept in each classroom and our teachers were very kind and if I was like, “I am injured,” they would allow me to sit down. And I went to that school
for three years and it was good for my education, I’d say. I was pretty smart, smart cookie. – Yeah.
– Yeah. – You are a smart cookie.
– Thank you. Got to be talking to in
the class and things. I’m not just bragging, by the way. There’s an awful downfall coming. I’m just bigging myself up before it does. So, I did generally quite well in all my end of year quizzes. They predicted that I
was gonna do very well– – You were basically a shining star heading in the right direction. – Yes, yes. And then, unfortunately,
I had to change schools. Right before the start of my
GCSEs, which was not great. And I went to an inner
city comprehensive school in Bristol, which was very large, and not what I was used to. Bit of a soft child. Bit of a soft human, to be honest. – Yeah. – Never really hardened up. I think my parents idea
was to toughen me up for the real world and instead I was like, I’m a marshmallow. And so I really struggled
throughout the school year. Physically, as well. It was the kind of school where we weren’t allowed to
go inside at lunch time. We had to be outside,
even if it was snowing. And eat a little cold-packed lunch. – Why, why couldn’t you be inside? Was it K through all?
– ‘Cause they thought we’d do bad things. – Was there no dining hall?
– Yeah. – Why can’t you eat in there? – Because you can’t eat in there
if you have a packed lunch. – Oh, they’re weird.
– I know. But, yeah, even after you’ve eaten, you’re then supposed to go outside and hang around outside.
– I mean, they would do that at my school as well. But only really forced the
year seven and eights outside. – Probably not when it was snowing. – No, I mean it was, it was
just when it was a nice day. It was like, go out and
get some vitamin D, girls. – Yeah, we had to sit outside in the rain while it poured down with rain. – Weird. – And it was a physically
very demanding school because the campus was quite large and I had to take all my books with me. For some reason, we all had
books that big for every class and you had to carry them
with you at all times. It was just a real struggle for me to be able to learn anything because it was physically so demanding of me. And I was just getting kind
of iller, and iller, and iller and no one knew that
anything was wrong with me. By the time it actually came to GCSEs, I think I was so exhausted from the, I don’t even remember them. I remember at the time, being like, wow. Everything is swimming (laughs). I feel so bad. That wasn’t great. And in my old school, they predicated that for my GCSEs, I was going
to get all A stars and As. And in the end, I managed
to scrape together three As, two Bs, two Cs, and two Ds. – What did you get Ds in? – French and something else.
– Fair enough. I mean, you can’t hear, so
French would be a struggle. – No, yeah, and I was super deaf as well. – Yeah.
– And no one noticed. That was a thing. So I would sit, I’d go, “Can I sit at the front
of the class, please? “Because I can’t understand
what’s going on.” The teacher would be like,
“Sure, sit in the front row.” And then everyone behind
me would be yelling and I’d be trying to work out what the hell this teacher was saying. And I thought it was just me and I was unable to concentrate, but no. Plot twist, I was deaf. – And the biggest thing
that happened to me was that I said, “I don’t want to do maths stats “and I wanted to do English Literature.” (laughs) And you’re like, yeah, my whole life was
medical compromise problems. – Oh, I’ve not even finished. – Okay. – So those are my GCSE results. Not good, I also got them while
I was on holiday in Italy, in a hospital, of course, because I tore the ligament in my foot. So when I returned for sick form, I was actually on crutches for six months, which was pretty difficult. And then at the end of that year, as I was about to take
my very first AS exams, I lent on my arm while I was writing and paralyzed both of my
arms for a year and a half. And then I went to hospital
and had a medical procedure that went wrong.
– I’m glad you’re just laughing about this.
– And then I dehydrated my brain and then it took two years. – You didn’t dehydrate your brain. The doctor that did the lumbar puncture– – Thank you.
– Dehydrated your brain. – That’s very kind of you. No, I didn’t dehydrate my brain. – She then also went a bit brain dead. – Yeah.
– I know some of it. – I genuinely have brain damage
because of that incident. Point is, though, I begged the doctor to let me go back and take my damn exams! And he was like, “It
will literally kill you. “No, I’m gonna put you
back a year at school.” – That’s one of the biggest fears, I think, of a lot of people,
is to be put back a year during education.
– Yeah. Yeah, well, it gets worse. So (laughs) I got put back a year. That was the AS level year.
– Yeah, yeah. – So I had to do it again. But I was too ill to actually
go into school at all, ever. So, one of my teachers who
just happened to be very kind would occasionally come
to my house and talk to me and that was my classical
civilizations A level, which means that I now know a
lot of stuff about Agamemnon. But, unfortunately, was not able to take any of my other classes. So at the end of the year, I
had to take the exams again, still with paralyzed arms. I was still actually
too ill to lift my head or be near light, so I had
to be in a tiny, dark room in my school, in the dark,
so lying down on the floor, with one of the school receptionists sat with her computer, typing
away, as I dictated to her. Dictation means I spoke aloud
and then she wrote it down. So that’s how I did all
of my exams that year. And then, the next year, because
I’d been put back a year, I was now in the A2 year. And I had to, again, try and
struggle through that year. Didn’t work out so well. Went to hospital for quite a few months during that year, actually. That year was a bit of a mess. We’ll skip over it. And then we come to the next year, by which time, I’m what, 19? I’m two years behind, it’s not good. I decided at the poor clutch
of A levels that I had needed to be added to because I really wanted to go to university. It was my burning desire. I was going to go to university and I was going to have a life, which is quite a big dream for someone who literally, for two years, didn’t really leave their bed. I wrote a lot of fanfiction, though. – I have yet to see this fanfiction. – You’ll never get to see it. So, during that last year, I decided that I would take English Literature. Two years compressed into one year because it was something that
I could teach myself at home and at the end of that year, I took both of the
English Literature exams. Actually, I say both, there
are probably six of them. So, in the end, I managed to
come out with four A levels. – Well done.
– Thank you. – There was three As and a B. And it took me four years.
– That’s very impressive. – And I almost died. But it happened.
– Yeah. – And then I managed to talk
my way into a university. – Yeah. Which you spent also seven years at. – Yeah, which I spent seven years at. Wait, no, I didn’t, I spent five years. – Oh, okay, five years.
– I spent five years at university because I did
the first year of university, that was a stupid idea, why did I think you could go into full–
– Anyway, when I met you– – Almost died, and then–
– You were just graduating. – Yes.
– Yeah. Film and what was it? Film and studies?
– Film and Screen Studies. – Yeah. – So now I have a job
that I absolutely love. And I really enjoy doing. And the thing is, whether you have a very simple educational pathway or a very complex one, where
it all goes a bit wrong for a while and you kind
of have to do it yourself, still, there will be a happy
ending waiting for you. So do not panic if the exam results that you have just received
are not what you were hoping. – Whatever your dream is, you’ll find a way to get there. You don’t need exam results to, you know, get you to achieve that. – Yes. – It’s not about the grades,
it’s about your mindset, on how you learn. That’s what is more important, that’s what actually, as you get older, and into higher education,
that’s what they’re looking for. – Persevere, my friends. It is not the end of the world. – Yeah.
– Buh-bye friends. – Buh-bye.
– Mwah. I hope you were able to take
something from this video and that it helped you feel better and less alone if you too
had a wonky education. Please do forgive us if we rambled a bit. I was not feeling my best, as
you can tell from the voice. My next video will be about migraines, but I’d love to continue the
conversation about schooling when you’re dealing with a
disability or a chronic illness and make a video of maybe some tips on how I made it through alive. Remember to subscribe
if you haven’t already and to turn on the notification bell. If you want to support
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your name and custom emojis. I’ll see you in my next video.