STUDENTS across West Suffolk are celebrating after achieving record A-level results.
With pressure mounting on university places in the run-up to tuition fees sky rocketing next year, youngsters proved they could go that extra mile in securing their journey to a bright future.
Pupils at County Upper School, in Bury St Edmunds, scored an A*-C pass rate of 86 per cent with 100 per cent passing overall.
Top performing student was John Parr, 18, of Barrow, who gained four A* grades and will read modern languages at Durham.
He said: “It feels good and it’s a little bit surprising. I’ve exceeded all my requirements and expectations.”
Other students with A*s included Rachael Fletcher, who will take geology at Imperial College, London, Emma Jordan and Adam Pearce, who will study maths and history respectively at Warwick and Lizzie Watts, who will read English at Oxford.
Head Vicky Neale said: “Once again, students at all levels of ability have performed extremely well in all subjects. Most importantly today, especially in the current climate, the overwhelming majority have got the grades they need for the next phase of their lives.”
King Edward VI School, in Bury St Edmunds, had a record breaking year with A*-C grades up to 84 per cent and an overall pass rate of 99.3 per cent.
Ashlea Smith, 18, from Bury, fulfilled her dream by achieving an A and two Bs, securing a place at Loughborough University to study sports management.
But Ashlea sacrificed a gap year with her family to avoid paying extra fees.
She said: “It feels great to get into the uni that I wanted. I am very proud of my achievement and it proves that hard work does have an end result.
“I was going to take a gap year to visit family in the Cayman Islands but the fees went up so I had to change my plans and give the gap year up.”
Head Geoff Barton said: “In what’s likely to be the toughest year ever for gaining a university place, we are delighted with the sparkling performance of sixth form students.”
At St Benedict’s Catholic Upper School, which notched up 86 per cent A*-C grades and a 100 per cent pass rate, top performing students fired a warning shot over the East Anglia Diocese’s plans to switch to two-tier education.
Claudia Snudden, 18, of Little Whelnetham, who achieved five A*s, one A and an A AS-level, said: “I’m lucky to benefit from strong teaching with lots of support from all the schools which gives us the really good results. I hope Suffolk County Council will choose an option that will maintain the high standards we have at the moment.” Her words were echoed by Andrew Gayfer, of Bury, who also got five A*s.
Head of sixth form Jack Gingell said: “I’m delighted for all of them - not only the ones with headline-grabbing scores, but all of our students who have worked hard to achieve the best they could.”
At Culford School, there was an 87 per cent A* to C pass rate with a 99 per cent overall pass rate.
Thurston Community College students achieved an overall A-level pass rate of 99.2 per cent, with 76.4 per cent achieving grades A* to C.
It was a particularly special day for Kane Shaw, from Wetherden, who went to Thurston without a bright future after being expelled from his last school and rejected by many sixth forms. He is set for Bristol University to study social policy and sociology after scooping three As in government and politics, sociology and extended project, and a B in English Literature.
It was also a good day at Stowupland High School with a 100 per cent overall pass rate and 70 per cent of students achieving A* to C.
Megan Grand, Michaela Hall, and Emma Drew celebrated A* and A grades all around and were the school’s top achieving pupils.
Stowmarket High School boasted a 98.6 per cent overall pass rate as 68.3 per cent of students gained A* to C grades.
Jordan Cracknell was particularly pleased as he gained three A*s in maths, further maths, and additional maths, an A in physics and a B in business, achieving his dream of studying maths at Cambridge University. He said: “I’m really chuffed. It’s definitely a weight off of my shoulders after months of worrying.”
Mildenhall College of Technology’s head Susan Byles was delighted her students had achieved the best A-level scores in the school’s history.
“I’m proud of all our students, especially those who have worked incredibly hard to get here,” she said.
The overall pass rate was 97 per cent with 56 per cent at A* to C grades.
Top achiever was Cassie Biddlecombe with an A* in English literature as well as Bs in history and psychology and an A in history AS-level.
She will be going to Lancaster to study English literature and creative writing.
Thetford’s schools were also toasting success after both the Academy and Grammar School posted 100 per cent overall pass rates. The Academy also managed 60 per cent of A*-C marks - up 18 per cent on last year - with the Grammar School’s students totting up 90 per cent of A*-C grades.
Thetford Academy student, Nikhil Tosar, 18, will be studying aerospace engineering at Kingston University after he gained a C in photography, E in ICT and a D in Maths.
Grammar school student Sam Owen, 18, got three A* grades in biology, chemistry and physics to ensure his place studying medicine in Brighton.
He said: “I’m ecstatic. It was a such a relief because I didn’t really have a back-up - it’s hard to describe how I’m feeling to be honest.”
Methwold High School students were celebrating after they beat their targets to get a 94 per cent overall pass rate and 53 per cent A*-C pass rate.
Denise Walker, headteacher, said: “We are very happy with this year’s results particularly with the A*-C pass rate. Our students have done brilliantly.”