For students at Banbury Aspirations Campus Academy Sixth Form, it was an occasion to celebrate with their grades reflecting their hard work and perseverance despite the turmoil caused by the pandemic and without sitting end-of-year exams.
Students were awarded their grades based on teacher assessments with a range of evidence used from mock exams, coursework and other work completed during the year, such as essays or in-class tests.
Carly Berry, head of sixth form, said: “We are extremely proud of our year 13 students this academic year. Despite the many challenges they have faced, they have achieved outstanding results and that is down to sheer hard work and commitment over the last two years. We are very pleased that our continued focus on challenging all students has resulted in continued excellent results across the board with 42 per cent achieving A* -A and 100 per cent achieving A* -E.
“The students’ resilience, maturity and work ethic has been truly inspiring. Our staff have also worked incredibly hard, whether at school or through online learning, to ensure the highest quality of teaching across the two years. Our students are moving on to many exciting opportunities. Some of our students are heading to their first-choice university and some students are taking up excellent apprenticeship opportunities. I am so pleased that despite the pandemic and the challenges it has brought, our sixth form continues to thrive and students have a first-class experience that enables them to move on to their chosen next step. We look forward to hearing all about their adventures.”
James B. achieved AAA* and is moving on to study medicine at Newcastle University.
Scarlett R. achieved AB Dist and will be moving on to study children’s nursing at King’s College London.
Here they share their journeys over the last two years.
James said: ‘’The pandemic has definitely made it more difficult. Online learning and remote learning are not the same as being in a classroom.
“It has been pretty tough but I still managed to get through it and I learnt something about my learning style. Over the first lockdown I learnt how to discipline myself and saw my work ethic increasing over that period.
“We had the support of teachers which was good and I think teacher-assessed grades was a sensible option to take for awarding grades.
“I’m now looking forward to going on to study medicine at Newcastle University. I enjoy science and problem-solving and medicine allows me to do both. The day-to-day life of a doctor and helping patients also appeals to me.’’
Scarlett said: ‘’It has definitely been tough because of all the disruption but with the rest of my cohort we have managed it really well and finished our courses to the end.
“The pandemic has forced me to become more resilient. We haven’t had teachers looking over our shoulders and it’s shown me that when I want to get something done, I can do it. I’m even more proud of all that I have achieved because of the circumstances.
“I know that for my friends having your grades determined by one exam is very stressful but this time around with teacher assessed grades it feels like a complete assessment and a chance to show what we can do.
“I spent so much time at my desk and took responsibility for my learning that I think it has helped me to prepare for university: the pandemic has taught me to be a bit more independent and self-reliant when it comes to my learning.
“I can’t wait to start my course. I get a major sense of pride and passion from being able to help people. I’ve spent a lot of time with children, cousins and family and things, and I enjoy looking after them and helping them.’’
Libby C., achieved 3 A*s.
She said: “It has been a very stressful time for us but we’ve all worked really hard and deserve our grades . The teacher assessed grades are a fair way of marking and our teachers have been very supportive as we’ve adapted to online learning. It was very tense and exciting this morning waiting for our results. I’m now looking forward to studying for a degree in physiotherapy at Coventry University.”
Carly Berry added: “We also have students going on to great apprenticeships at Norbar, Bupa and one in Government security.”
This report originally appeared in the Banbury Guardian.