Gallery: Celebrations as students in West Suffolk collect A-level grades

THERE were scenes of joy at schools across the west of the county as teenagers collected their eagerly-awaited A-level results.

Although many are celebrating making the grade, some now face the prospect of finding an alternative course through clearing or rethinking the next stage of their education.

In Bury St Edmunds, Geoff Barton, headteacher at King Edward VI School said he was delighted with some of the best-ever grades at the school.

In all 154 students sat the exams with 92% gaining A*-C, 99.8% gaining A*-E, 16% of grades were A* (last year 8%) and 41% of grades were A and A* (last year 29%).

Twenty-nine students gained straight A or A* grades in all their subjects, with eight students getting into Oxbridge universities.

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Mr Barton said: “This makes a memorable summer even more memorable. Our students have done us proud, and gained places at many of the UK’s top universities. Congratulations to all of them, and to the teachers who have inspired them, and the parents who have supported them and us.

“As a proudly comprehensive school for young people of all backgrounds and abilities, we are thrilled once again to be able to celebrate such sparkling success by such a talented group of students.”

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At Thetford Grammar School 15 pupils sat A-level exams and achieved a 100% pass rate from A*-E with 90% gaining A*-C.

Headteacher Gareth Price said: “These are our best results ever and the students were a very hard-working and positive year group who thoroughly deserve the success they have achieved.”

Student Polina Sosnina gained six A* grades in maths, further maths, biology, chemistry, physics and music.

She is taking a gap year but is hoping to study music at Cambridge University next year.

Eighteen students at Thetford Academy achieved a 100% pass rate from A*-E with 57% scoring A*-C grades.

Dr Roger Harris, director of sixth form, said: “Last year’s results jumped 20% and what these show is that we have sustained those results. Although we haven’t moved forward we have held our ground so next year we are looking for an improvement.

“We are very happy with this set of results and these were the first students of our academy which was a very turbulent time for them.”

Students at Samuel Ward Academy were also celebrating an increase in the number of A* grades.

In all 65 students sat the exams with 81% gaining A*-C and 100% gaining A*-E.

Andy Prestoe, Vice principal, said: “A-level results this year show that our students really have what it takes to be successful and we are delighted that the majority of them have managed to get into their university of choice.

Real individual successes were enjoyed by Faye Battye (A* in Chemistry, A* in Maths, A in Geography, A in A/S Further Maths), Emillie Ferris, (A* in Art, A in Media, A in Photography and a B in English Literature), Jacob Willmore, (A in Biology, A in Chemistry, A in Geography), Eleanor Gurr, (A in Biology, A in Geography, B in Chemistry), Jordan Feeney, (A in Photography, A in Psychology, B in English Literature), Ryan Meyer, (A in Maths, A in Physics, B in Chemistry), Abi Cartwright-Thomas (A in History, A in English Literature ,B in Chemistry) and Steven Huckfield, (A in Maths, A in Music and a C in Physics).

Mr Prestoe added: “We are delighted with the results. They are a testimony to how hard our students have worked and we are thrilled that they have what they need to get into university or to move into employment. We wish them the best of luck in the future. These show real success in many areas of the curriculum. Finally, I’d also like to say a ‘Thank you’ to our staff and to the parents who have provided invaluable support to our students.”

But Dr R Cadwalladr, Principal of Newmarket College. said despite hard work by their 30 A-level students, he was disappointed with overall grades. Only 44% achieved A*-C grades and 88% A*-E.

He said: “We are disappointed with our overall A level and equivalent results this year at Newmarket College with only 44% of the grades achieving A*-C grades and 88% pass grades. As a group, these students struggled academically through their time in school, and so the foundations for exam success haven’t been there. Nevertheless there are some lovely young people in this year group and we can be proud of those who have worked hard to achieve the best that they can be. We are pleased that their results will support them in their next steps and we wish them every success at university, training or employment.

“We are much encouraged by the results for our year 12 students in their AS exams, with improved pass rates and many higher grades.”

The 65 students at St Benedict’s Upper 6th produced a record-breaking performance with their “exceptional” A-level results.

The A*-E pass rate was 100%. The percentage of grades A*-B was 60%, and of grades A*-C 84%. 55% of students achieved at least one grade A or above.

Last year’s results put St Benedict’s at the very top of A-level results nationally, and were the highest in Suffolk. This year’s results, in terms of average points gained by students, are higher still.

The school’s average points per student was 1,082 – equal to four grade As. Average points per entry was 231.

Individual success stories include five students who have met their offers and will be taking up places at Oxbridge: Bronwen King (Medicine at Cambridge), Georgina Howe (History, Cambridge), Theo Snudden (Engineering, Cambridge). Catriona Jones (History, Oxford) and Henry Dunne (Medicine, Oxford).

A spokesman for the school said: “These students were among our top performers, with Theo achieving six A* grades. Others with more than four A* or A grades were Louise Busson, Bethan Crossley and Claudia Sadler.”

Theo Snudden’s exam results included 6 A*s at A level, and one grade A at AS, beating the previous record, jointly set by his sister Claudia last year.

Headteacher Hugh O’Neill said: “As we’ve all been watching the Olympics with huge pride, it helps us to realise that, behind every success, there are a host of people helping to get things right. Students preparing for exams are no different from athletes in this respect. They need the best coaching and the best support to enable them to “peak” for their exams, and that support includes their families as well as teachers and support staff in school.

“But, on the day, they have to put all of that training and support to good use, and achieve the performance they need. Our sixth formers have truly delivered the performance of their lives, and we couldn’t be happier for them”.

Headteacher of Bury St Edmunds County Upper School, Vicky Neale, said she was delighted with results, that saw all 94 students achieve A* - E grade. A total of 90% of student achieved A*-C grades.

Mrs Neale said: “It’s a great day for the school. I think the main thing to say is that all of the students have aimed very high for university and they have got in. They have set their standards very high.

“They are a really great bunch of young people. Lots of them kept their sport, drama and music going right until the end. There has been a lot of talk about an Olympic legacy and this lot have proved that you can do all of that and still get good grades.”

Mrs Neale added that national criticism of the A-level standard was misplaced.

“I think one of the factors is that students work harder than before. I think teachers work harder too. I think there used to be this thinking that you teach and if they get it, you get it and that’s it. But now our teachers are giving up more and more time to work with students.”

Dr John Guntrip, Joint Deputy Head at Culford School praised an “excellent” set of A-level results.

Out of the school’s 59 pupils sitting the exam, 99.5% of grades were A*-E while

80% of grades were A*-C.

Dr Guntrip, said: “We are really pleased with the results this year which include numerous outstanding individual performances both in terms of grades achieved and value added”.

Headmaster, Julian Johnson-Munday said, “This year’s results illustrate once again how much hard work pupils and teachers put into preparing for these examinations. There are some excellent individual performances which include a number of pupils gaining suites of A* and A grades”.

Results at Thurston Community College were attributed to the hard work of students and staff.

A total of 153 students sat A-levels with 77% grades hitting A*-C and 99% of grades were A* - E.

Vice principal David Potter said staff were particularly pleased with the continued improvement of value-added scores, the rate at which a student is seen to improve in light of previous results.

He added: “The headline for us is that Thurston offers a truly comprehensive approach to A-levels. We don’t cream off the top and we are in the top 15% of the country in terms of value-added score. We are truly proud.”

Mr Potter said: “The results are a testimony to the fantastic work of the students, the devotion of parents and the continuing professionalism of staff.

Meanwhile, headteacher at Great Cornard Upper School, Wayne Lloyd, said he was very “pleased and encouraged” with the results. Of the 67 students who sat A-level and other Level-3 examinations this summer, 68.8% achieved grades A*- C, which is a rise from 61% last year. Overall, there was a 99% pass rate of grades A* - E.

Mr Lloyd said 42 of the students would now move on to university in September, adding: “The results reflect the hard work and application of our students and the excellent support that they have received from their teachers.

“More than 73% of our year 13s are going to University this year. We are very proud of them and all that they have achieved.”

Among the high achievers was Camilla Ashdown, who achieved three Grade-A results in English Language, English Literature and History. She will now go on to study English at the University of Kent. Scott Willis, who achieved two As and one B and is going to Loughborough University to study on their prestigious Sports Science course.

Sam McGarry attained two As, one B and one C and will go to Kent to read computer studies. Also William Golding achieved one A and two Bs and will move on to Nottingham to read chemistry. One A and two Bs will enable Elizabeth Bransby to secure a place at Kent University, while Gabriella Butcher’s A, B, B grades have got her into Winchester to study business.

As Sudbury Upper School & Arts College received its last set of A-level results before it becomes the Ormiston Sudbury Academy in September, chairman of school governors, Ann Pizzey, said she was delighted that the majority of the students had secured a place at their first choice university. Overall, 12% of students achieved the top A* grade, and 96% achieved a pass in one or more A-levels.

Among those who achieved the higher grades was Jess Shepherdson with an A* in Physical Education, and two Bs, which will enable her to study Sports Science at Birmingham University. Connie Free gained two As and a B grade to study English at Sussex University, while Lauren Chinery with passed four A-levels, including one A*, two As and one C grade.

While awaiting his GCSE results due out next week, Year 11 student, Matthew Gill, 16, can be satisfied with attaining an A grade in A-level maths.

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