Last Updated on 2nd February 2023

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Transfer test results day can be just as daunting as the test days themselves. Although fundamentally a test for 10 and 11-year-olds shouldn’t be a life-changing event, the reality is that the transfer test results can hold a lot of weight. Unfortunately, many children will be aware of that, in one way or another.

For some families, the results received won’t be what was hoped for and, as much we might try to hide our feelings, most children will be aware that the results will have consequences, such as:

  • where they go to school later this year,

  • whether they’re going to the same school as their friends,

  • if they will have to travel further to go to a different school outside of their hometown.

They will also of course be aware that they put work and effort into tests and have been hoping to achieve a good score. Children will also no doubt be discussing and comparing their results with their friends, a social pressure that shouldn’t be underestimated. For those children that socialise on gaming platforms online or, despite age regulations, use social media platforms and messaging apps, that pressure is extended outside of the playground.

todays scores aren't tomorrow's end results graphic

So, how can parents help their children with the aftermath of receiving a lower score than hoped for? This guide to supporting your child with their transfer test results will help you navigate those first hours and days, whether the results received were good or not the scores they had expected!  

Transfer Test Results Top Tips

Please remember, even if your child doesn’t seem to be upset or reacting in anyway, it doesn’t mean that they are feeling completely okay – children can be good at hiding their feelings, they could have a delayed reaction or they could just be putting on a brave face!

Your Words Matter

Whether you are mum, dad, carer, a relative, family friend or teacher, if a child looks up to you then the words you use now are likely to be very impactful. The same goes for your reactions, including body language.

Your words will carry a heavy weight and if a child hasn’t scored as highly as hoped, they will likely be looking to you for reassurance, consolement and guidance. Pick your words carefully and try not to use any negative wording. Instead, focus on using positive language that reaffirms your love and support, and also provide reassurance about their future.

parents telling their child how proud they are

Try and create opportunities for your child to discuss how they’re feeling with you, by allowing plenty of one-on-one time (or time with both parents) in a quiet environment. Remember to use open ended questions, like: “how are you feeling?”, rather than: “are you feeling happy?” or “are you feeling sad?”. We’d encourage you do this several times over the course of the days and weeks ahead to allow time for a child to process and reflect.

The words of your child matter too, especially if they received good results and some of their friends haven’t. When it comes to talking to their friends, encourage your child to be mindful and aware of their words. They don’t need to minimise their own success and can celebrate it, but you can use this opportunity to teach them how to be supportive of their friends.

Result days are significant milestones in your child’s life and these moments matter! So, no matter what the score that falls through the door in an envelope, now is the time to show and tell your child how much they are loved and supported by you. I hope the advice given here will help you with reacting in those first moments and beyond.

Colin Stitt, Head of Safer Schools NI

Make Plans like A Proud Parent

Whatever the transfer test results score may be, it can help to have some fun activities planned for the hours and even days after the results are received.
Doing something like a special activity will help reiterate that you’re proud of them for all their hard work, regardless of the result, and that you still love and value them.
The activity may also create a great space in which the child feels like they can open up and talk to you about anything they might be feeling.

The activities don’t have to be anything extravagant – a simple walk in the park to feed the ducks, a visit to their favourite place to eat or a trip to the cinema can be enough. It’s about giving your child your time and letting them know that you’re there to support them through their transfer test results score.

father and son playing football

Exercise has been proven to have many benefits to both our physical and mental health. The endorphins that are released not only make us feel happier but decrease stress and improve sleep. Bad weather? Try doing our Creative Activity Pack together.

Pressure in the Playground

Even if a child seems content with their transfer test score, it’s important to note that there may be conversations that happen in school that can change this.

Whether it’s comparing scores with their friends or being bullied for receiving a certain score, the influence of peers can affect how a child is feeling about their results. This is not just for children who have scored low – a child who scores a high result can likewise be targeted for being a ‘nerd’ etc.

We put together an article about understanding the 10 Signs of Bullying – read more here.

Pressure Beyond the Playground

Although a child receiving their transfer test results isn’t old enough to meet age requirements on social media, there have been plenty of incidents of children at this age using social media regardless. Children may also be talking to each other while playing online games. There may be extra feelings of pressure and comparison due to other people posting or chatting about their results, as well as potentially becoming a victim of cyberbullying.

Key Advice to Remember:

  • Remind the child in your care that you love and support them.
  • Encourage them to talk about their feelings with you. If your child has siblings, they may prefer to chat to them about how they’re feeling, write them down or draw a picture.
  • Watch out for signs that a child is struggling, such as new behaviours like difficulty eating, sleeping or emotional outbursts.
  • If you’re worried about changes in their behaviour, seek further support from organisations such as Childline who can provide advice online or on the phone on 0800 1111.
  • Keep encouraging your child to talk about how they’re feeling, not just on results day!
  • Ask questions about how their school day was and playground conversations that might have taken place about results.

  • Find further resources on supporting the children in your care in the Health and Wellbeing section on your Safer Schools NI App.
  • Download the Safer Schools NI App today on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

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