Hundreds of students have laid the foundations for a bright future after their A-level results were revealed yesterday.
Against a backdrop of reform including results depending solely on final exams in some subjects, young people still managed to make the grade.
At St Benedict’s Catholic School, in Bury St Edmunds, 58 students sat A-levels with a 100 per cent overall pass rate and 82 per cent achieving A* to C grades, which is down two per cent on last year.
Assistant headteacher Jonathan Croucher said: “We’re delighted with everyone. It’s another really consistent set of results, carrying on from previous years, which we’re delighted with.”
Among the school’s ‘stand out’ students were James Rawson who took six A-levels, achieving four A*s in maths, further maths, additional maths and physics and two As in computer science and chemistry, and Jonny Greenslade-Cross who achieved two A*s and an A.
Mr Greenslade-Cross, who will read international business and marketing at Leeds, said: “I just couldn’t believe it. I was literally shaking. I’m so, so happy and really excited for the future.”
The nearby County Upper School, where 107 students sat A-levels, narrowly missed out on a perfect score with a pass rate of 99.7 per cent and 85 per cent of students achieving A* to C, down three per cent on last year.
Headteacher Vicky Neale said: “This is the first year since the significant reforms to A-level were introduced and it has been an uncertain time for both students and staff. I am delighted that by continuing to offer a broad all-round education, we have been able to maintain excellent results across the board despite the changes which means that students across the ability range can move on to their chosen career paths.”
Among those was Sarah Burns, who achieved exam success while continuing to dance competitively and play saxophone and piano.
She missed out on a trio of A* grades by a single mark, which the school may appeal, and will read physics at Manchester.
“I worked really hard. It wasn’t fun and it was a struggle but I tried my hardest and I’m really happy that was enough,” she said.
The school has four students destined for Oxbridge Colleges to read degrees in the sciences. Among them is Hannah Curwen, who was ‘over the moon’ with her three A*s and will read chemistry at Oxford, and Hannah Peck who achieved two A*s and two As and will realise an ambition she has held since the age of 10 by going on to read natural sciences at Cambridge.
At King Edward VI School, in Bury, 163 students sat A-levels with 84 per cent achieving A* to C, which is up two per cent on last year, and an overall pass rate of 99.1 per cent.
Headteacher Lee Walker said: “As well as congratulating our students, we would like to pay tribute to the hard work and effort from all of our teachers and support staff who have contributed to this terrific set of results, and thank parents for their unwavering support.”
Among those celebrating was Natasha Parrott, 18, who exceeded her expectations after scoring A*s in maths, further maths and physics. She will study maths at the University of Bath.
She said: “Honestly I was expecting to go through clearing because I felt like I was going to do so badly in those exams so I’m really happy.”
Nicholas Sheehan, 18, is off to study music at Royal Holloway, University of London to pursue his ambition of working in the theatre. He achieved an A* in politics, A in music and A in philosophy.
Lucy Perrior, 18, also did better than she thought she would with an A* in English literature, B in government and politics and C in psychology.
She said: “I’m ecstatic about my English literature grade. This is the most nervous I’ve ever been about anything.”
Mildenhall College Academy has seen its overall pass rate rise for the third year running with 99 per cent of the 99 students who took A-levels or applied general qualifications passing, against 98 per cent last year, though the percentage achieving A* to C grades dropped from 75 to 62 per cent.
Principal Sue Byles said: “The students who have taken Applied General courses have once again surpassed themselves and our A-level cohort has done extremely well especially as they are the first year group to sit the reformed examinations.”
The stars include two who have coped with illness during their courses. Jack McConnell passed all his A-levels and will go to university with Bs in media studies and history and a D in music and Bethany Field has a B in sociology, C in philosophy and double distinction star in health and social care so is going to the University of East Anglia.
Head boy Xavier Letimer checked the UCAS website at 7.30am to find he was accepted to study chemical engineering at Queen Mary in London.
He got A in physics and Bs in maths and chemistry.
Ines Silva has a place at Bournemouth and hopes to become a nurse.
Natasha Buckingham-Redman got the highest BTec grade of triple distinction star in health and social care and will study social work at University of Suffolk.
Katherine Beer plans to work for a year before Leicester University. She has a double distinction star in health and social care, a distinction star in applied science and a C in psychology.
West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock MP said that evening: “Many congratulations to the staff and pupils at Mildenhall College Academy for their very good A-level results. There has been a lot of effort put in by everyone there and they should be very proud of all that they have achieved.”
Eighty seven students sat A-levels at Stowmarket High School with 60 per cent achieving A* to C, compared to 84 per cent last year, and an overall pass rate of 95 per cent.
The top performing student was Hannah Vaughan-Wright, who received an A* in maths, A in further maths, A in English literature and A for her extended project.
Headteacher Dave Lee-Allan said they would be looking at why their results were down but pointed to the changes to the exam system.
He said: “Ninety eight per cent so far of our students who applied for university have got in and one of the exam boards has picked out one of our students Matt Ball for his exemplary extended project in which he created a data system which is now looked at being used commercially.”
He added that they achieved nothing lower than an A grade in vocational subjects IT and health and social care.
At Stowupland High School, 73 students sat A-levels with 65 per cent gaining A* to C, down five per cent on last year, and a 96 per cent overall pass rate.
Assistant headteacher Michael Hill said: “Amidst A-level reform and national debates, our students have risen to the challenge and their achievements demonstrate high levels of knowledge, application and communication. It is clear that Stowupland students are going to thrive in employment, higher education destinations and in apprenticeships.”
At Thurston Community College, 100 students sat A-levels with 79 per cent of students achieving A* to C grades, down just one per cent on last year, and an overall pass rate of 98 per cent.
Paul Potter, vice principal and head of sixth form, said: “I am really pleased for the students, staff and parents who have been very supportive in what has been a challenging year. It is just great to see so many smiling faces today.”
Ellie Gooch, who opened her results to find she had got three A*s, said: “I thought I may have one or possibly two but to get three is just so incredible.”
She has got in at Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics.
Ryan Dempsey got in to St Catharine’s College in Cambridge to study natural sciences and was totally blown away by the result.
He said: “I thought biology went really badly but with three A*s it is just brilliant.”
Cameron Elsworth thought his envelope would contain Bs but once he opened it he found something completely different.
He said: “It is still sinking in, that I got three As, but it is just a fantastic feeling.”
Cameron is off on a five year course at Manchester University to study Medicine.
Students at Thetford Academy achieved an overall pass rate of 92 per cent, with 59 per cent of the 70 students who sat exams achieving A* to C, down 12 per cent from 2016.
Principal Kevin Blakey said: “This was a particularly big year group, twice the size of last year, and they have done very well across the curriculum with 100 per cent A* to C pass rates in subjects as varied as performing arts, information technology, and health and social care.
“A third of our students achieved three or more strong passes, and the number of A grades has topped last year’s national average. Two thirds of students will be going on to their top university choice. These are great achievements by our talented students and dedicated staff.”
At Culford School, of the 58 students who sat A-levels 79 per cent achieved A* to C, down one per cent on last year, and the overall pass rate was 98 per cent.
The 22 students who sat exams at Thetford Grammar School achieved a 99 per cent pass rate, with 76 per cent getting A* to C, down five per cent on last year.
+See tomorrow’s Bury Free Press for more pictures of this year’s cohort.