GCSE results: Schools' reactions as hard-working pupils in Banburyshire get the results they have been waiting for
WYKHAM PARK ACADEMY
A barbecue breakfast and ice-cream van awaited students at Wykham Park Academy this morning as they collected their GCSE results.
Staff said the the different approach to a much-anticipated day was a chance for them to let pupils know just how proud they are of the resilience the teenagers have shown in the face of adversity following lockdown.
Despite the obstacles encountered and the decision to scrap final GCSE exams because of Covid-19 in the UK, this year’s results at Wykham in Banbury are the school’s best ever.
Science grades have shown an improvement with a 20 per cent increase from last year for grades 9-4. Almost 50 per cent of students scored a Grade 5 or above for English and Maths and 68 per cent achieved GCSEs of Grade 4 and above.
Results day comes just days after exams watchdog Ofqual apologised to students and parents and announced that all A-level and GCSE results in England will be based on teacher-assessed grades.
In a U-turn, the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced the Government would scrap the controversial standardisation model drawn up by the exams regulator to award grades in lieu of exams.
Sylvia Thomas, Principal at Wykham Park, said the day is still very much one that should be celebrated by students. She also revealed each Year 11 student has been given a personal postcard from either a senior member of staff or a curriculum leader in their exam envelope.
Ms Thomas said: ‘’We are really proud of our students. Our results this year are as we had hoped, as we had been predicting from the exams at the end of Year 10 that this cohort would be our best ever after last year’s record GCSE results on the campus.
‘’Science grades have continued to show improvement which builds on the upward trend we have seen over the last few years.
‘’English has maintained the excellent results we have come to expect from that department. We are also really pleased that the maths grades have shown the increase we were predicting from all three sets of mocks we ran before lockdown. The new leadership in maths should be congratulated for their hard work to achieve this.
‘’We are so looking forward to seeing the students today. They coped brilliantly with the abrupt end to their final GCSE year and we want to celebrate with them on this strangest of times.
‘’We have written personal postcards to each student which they will find when they open their exam envelope and we have booked a burger van and an ice cream van to help them celebrate their successes.’’
Ms Thomas revealed the highest performing student of the 2020 cohort at Wykham is Adam Starkie, 16, who has been awarded a string of grade 8s and 9s and said: ‘’We are very proud of his achievements and, again, they are a true reflection of his ability and work ethic. We are so pleased that he is one of a number of our students who are joining us next year in our outstanding sixth form.’’
Erin Brewer, 16, has battled with cystic fibrosis throughout her life but achieved a string of impressive results including Grade 9s in English. Ms Thomas said: ‘’We are delighted with the grades that Erin Brewer has been awarded. She has battled with cystic fibrosis throughout her life but, even during long stints in hospital, she has worked incredibly hard on her academic studies. Her Grade 9s in English are a just reward for all of her determination and resilience.’’
Case study - Erin Brewer (Wykham Park Academy)
Erin Brewer has Cystic Fibrosis, a condition she was born with and one she has refused to allow to stand in the way of achieving her academic goals.
This morning the determined teenager was rewarded for her resilience with a string of impressive grades.
A delighted Erin said: ‘’I’m really happy. I got two 6s in Science, a 9 in English Language, a 9 in Literature, a 7 in Geography, a 5 in Maths and a 4 in Art.
‘’I do feel I got the grades I deserve. It’s a really happy day today.’’
‘’I am nervous about tomorrow but I know that I did a good job with my coursework and I did well in my mocks so hopefully I will get the grades I deserve.’’
Her results are all the more important because of the hurdles she has had to overcome.
The 16-year-old endures medical check-ups every four weeks and hospital stays of up to two weeks every three months in order to manage her condition. Erin can also find herself in hospital for treatment for up to a month depending on the severity of her symptoms.
However, Erin has refused to allow her school work to slip often completing coursework or taking mock exams from her hospital bed.
She said: ‘’Cystic Fibrosis is a condition I was born with and I realised growing up that I couldn’t do things that normal children would do and I would have to do things independently. I also got used to having to catch up with my school work and it was hard to have a social life because of the treatment and medication.
‘’I do get frustrated but I’ve also realised that I just have to get used to it.
‘’My school work has been very important to me as it has given me something to focus on and I know my grades will be important for my future career as a cartoonist or graphic designer.
‘’The school has always been so supportive and sent my work to the hospital when I’ve needed it. I’ve also made a small group of friends who have always helped me when I’ve come back to school.’’
Case study - Adam Starkie (Wykham Park Academy)
Adam Starkie’s grades of a 9 in Maths and Computer Science, 8s in English Language and French and 7s in Biology, Chemistry and Physics make him this year’s top-performing GCSE student at Wykham.
He said: ‘’I feel really good about my results, they’re much better than I thought they would be and reflect all my hard work over the last two years.’’
Adam said he was glad of the U-turn made over grading: ‘’I feel better knowing that the final grades will be teacher assessed grades.
‘’It is going to be weird to see everyone again after so many months but I am looking forward to it – I think it might be a bit too early for ice-cream though!
‘’I’m confident I will get the grades I need to stay on [to study at the school’s Sixth Form] and study for A-levels in Maths, History and Computer Science. I am leaning towards going to university.’’
Chenderit School has decribed their results as excellent and their students as 'the pride of our community'.
They have not given out any results or individual achievements but chose instead to congratulate all pupils.
Headteacher Jane Cartwright said: “We are absolutely delighted with this group of year 11 students.
“They have been a caring, industrious and talented group of young people who have worked hard throughout their time at our school.
"Today’s results, based on our centre’s assessed grades, reward our students for their successes and, in light of everything that has gone on this week, are the fairest and most accurate assessment of what our students have achieved over time, given that they could not sit their GCSEs this summer.
“Our year 11 students are now in the best possible position to progress to our sixth form, other further education providers or an apprenticeship.
"We are immensely proud that so many of our students will be joining our successful sixth form and invite non-Chenderit students to contact Mr B Belstone, our head of sixth form, should they wish to be considered for a place here too.
“I would like to commend our remarkable staff for all they have contributed to our year 11 students’ education, and I would also like to thank our students’ parents and carers at this time. Since March 20, they have been faced with a particularly difficult period regarding their child’s future.
“We hope that students, parents and carers are able to enjoy today and look forward to the future.”
The school did not send over any results - instead they chose to congratulate all the pupils
A spokesperson said: "They absolutely deserve every success after what has been a tumultuous lead up to the results day.
"We have been so proud of the year group; they had been working so hard this year prior to school closure, on making the most of the lead up to exams. This set of results gives them the recognition they deserve.
"Many thanks to all the staff and parents who’ve supported them on the way. We look forward to seeing many of them back in our Sixth Form in September."
BLESSED GEORGE NAPIER
The Blessed George Napier School did not send over any results - instead they chose to congratulate all the pupils
Mr Long, principal of BGN, said: “It has been a highly unusual year and the way that results have been awarded has been incredibly difficult for our children, their families and staff.
"The GCSE results have now been issued and I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate our year 11 pupils for their outcomes, hard work and resilience in such difficult circumstances.
"This would not have been possible without support from their families and, of course, the dedicated staff at BGN. We wish them all the very best as they go onto the next stage of their lives”.
THE WARRINER SCHOOL
There were celebrations at The Warriner School in Bloxham as pupils picked up their results.
The highlights include:
Samuel Britton – 4X Grade 9, 5X Grade 8, 1X Grade 7
Patrick Dickins – 6X Grade 9, 3X Grade 8, 1X Grade 7
Natalie Kyte – 5X Grade 9, 4X Grade 8,
William Robertson – 6X Grade 9, 3X Grade 8
Farrell Hawkes - 6X Grade 9, 4X Grade 8
George Hill – 5X Grade 9, 4X Grade 8, 1X Grade 7
Ben Browning –5Grade 9, 2X Grade 8, 2X Grade 7
Abigail Game – 4X Grade 9, 4X Grade 8, 1X Grade 7
Robert Pollard – 2X Grade 9, 5X Grade 8, 2X Grade 7
Callum Brotherhood - 3X Grade 9, 5X Grade 8, 1X Grade 7
M. Lowdell, head of school, said: "It was truly fantastic to see the vast majority of our Year 11 students return to school today, given the abrupt nature of their departure and inability to sit exams.
"It was wonderful to celebrate their achievements, at all levels, and I am extremely proud that many of them have achieved first choice destinations.
"Congratulations to all of Year 11, you have been a fantastic group of students to work with throughout your five years of study. I am extremely pleased that many of you have accepted offers to continue studying A Levels at The Warriner School, and look forward to your next chapter here.
"Likewise, I am equally thrilled that many of you have received grades that enable you to access your chosen post 16 pathway. I wish you all the very best of luck in your future endeavours.
"If anyone would still like to make an application to our sixth form please contact Mr Matthew Fisher [email protected]
"Finally, a huge a huge thank you to all parents, carers, guardians and staff who have worked tirelessly to support all Year 11 students – a great effort all round."
BANBURY AND BICESTER COLLEGE
Nearly 87 per cent of Activate Learning’s Banbury and Bicester College students taking standalone maths and English GCSEs achieved a pass in this year’s exams.
Many of the college’s GCSE students are learners who resit maths, English or both, to continue in education or progress their career.
These include mature students who need these GCSEs to progress in their careers, learners who may have missed the chance to go to university first time round and want to study at degree level and also part-time students who have studied GCSEs at evening classes.
Christina Tzemanaki, an art and design student, is celebrating a grade 6 in English language and a 5 in maths.
Christina said: “I am happy with my results as this is my first year in the UK. My teachers at Banbury and Bicester College have been really helpful and friendly.”
Summer Truby, a health and social care student, achieved the grades she needs to begin an apprenticeship in September. Summer secured a grade 6 in English language and a grade 4 in maths.
Summer said: “I am really proud considering everything that has happened this year. I am thankful for my teachers’ support throughout and I am excited that I have the grades to start my apprenticeship.”
Katie Churchill, an art and design student, is celebrating a grade 6 in English language.
Katie said: “I loved studying at Banbury and Bicester College and I’m looking forward to starting a fashion course in September. I’d like to thank Doug, my English teacher for all of his help this year.”
Sally Dicketts CBE, Chief Executive of Activate Learning, said: “I would like to congratulate everyone who is picking up the results they need today in their GCSEs.
“Many of our GCSE students are sitting their exams with us for a second time, or in the case of some of our adult learners for the first time.
“Today will decide whether they are able to progress into the next stage of their education or access an opportunity they might not otherwise have been able to.
“For everyone that’s managed to get what you need, I want to say a big well done! This hasn’t been the easiest of years in which to study, but your perseverance and commitment to your studies has got you to where you need to be.
“And for those who haven’t quite achieved what you’d hoped for, please don’t despair. We will be there to support you over the coming days and help you to get where you need!”
Sibford School recorded its best GCSE on record.
But the headteacher said that the true measure of success can be found in the life-skills and qualities that the pupils have developed during such an unusual year.
Sibford School head Toby Spence said: “This has been an exceptionally unusual year and today is about something much more than statistics and grades. Sibford School pupils, and staff worked exceptionally hard both before and during lockdown to ensure that real learning continued.
"Yes, grades are important but the determination, grit, resilience and creativity of our community is what has truly shone through.
"For example, the manner in which Year 11 pupils engaged with our teaching after Easter and thence our Sixth Form preparation courses which we offered during the summer term was quite inspiring."
Toby added: “What is a particular pleasure are the strong set of grades across all subject areas – from the creative arts to humanities and STEM subjects - underpinning the breadth of talent we have across our holistic curriculum.
"As a community we can be proud of how we responded to the circumstances and I am delighted by the outcomes for our pupils.”
Overall, top tier grades (8 or 9) were received in a total of 22 subjects, with over 40 per cent of pupils achieved at least one grade 8 or 9.
100 per cent of pupils gaining five or more grades at 9 – 4 (or A* - C).