GCSE results day sees Derbyshire Dales schools salute students' achievements against Covid backdrop
After completing almost their entire Key Stage 4 amid the duress of the pandemic, schools across the Derbyshire Dales showered their year 11 students with praise as they received their GCSE results today.
The anxious opening of envelopes was accompanied by even more relief and elation than usual as students and staff celebrated successes earned the hard way.
Given the different grading process in use this year, the Department for Education does not intend to publish comparative league tables, so just as they did with the A-level results earlier in the week, most schools will take time to compile and contextualise the final statistics in ways which can guide their own improvement.
Instead, school leaders used the occasion to acknowledge the whole cohort on their collective achievement and resilience in the face of so much unprecedented upheaval.
At Highfields School in Matlock, head of year 11 Jane Hughes, said, “I told the students many times that if I had to go through a pandemic with any year group, I’m glad that I went through it with theirs.
“They showed grit, determination, maturity, passion and compassion for others: I could not be prouder of them.”
Over at Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth, staff reported an excellent set of grades despite the difficult conditions, saying they compare very favourably with previous years.
The teacher-assessed grades which were submitted by the school were all agreed by the examination boards, with no changes to grades required, following a rigorous process of internal assessment and external moderation.
An increased number of students have applied for and will be offered places in the school’s Sixth Form, ready to start a range of courses in September.
Others have gained qualifications which will enable them to progress in their chosen areas; with some opting for courses in nearby colleges and others able to secure places on apprenticeships.
Headteacher Malcolm Kelly said: “We are immensely proud of all the work and achievements of our students, especially after such a difficult and disrupted couple of years.
“Staff have worked tirelessly to ensure students are able to progress in a range of different pathways. The strong partnerships which exist between students, staff and the students’ families have helped in securing these grades. Our students have approached their studies with determination, resilience and fortitude; making the most of the opportunities which have been made available to them.”
He added: “They have grown physically, mentally and emotionally during their time at AGS and they are outstanding ambassadors for their generation and excellent role models. They have wonderful futures ahead of them and we are looking forward to seeing what they will go on to do and achieve.
“It was wonderful to see so many overjoyed students in school this morning and the sense of relief amongst a group of people who have worked so hard throughout the recent challenges was palpable. Families and friends celebrated together and enjoyed the moment.”
More than 100 students collected their results at Hope Valley College, and enjoyed the opportunity to see each other and catch up after months of timetable disruption.
Principal Gaynor Jones said: “Our students have done incredibly well under the most challenging of circumstances. Like students everywhere, they have had to cope with lockdowns, remote learning, health scares and mental health challenges. Yet they have managed to keep their focus on their studies and achieve some fantastic results.
“My thanks go to them, our staff and the families in our local community for pulling together and supporting our students along their journey. Being such a small, friendly secondary school we have been able to really provide the level of support our students needed over these past 18 months. They now have the chance to take the next important steps in their life and unlock so many exciting opportunities. We are all so incredibly proud of them.”
Lady Manners School in Bakewell reported strong performance across a broad range of GCSE subjects plus Level 1 and 2 vocational courses, including many outstanding individual successes.
Staff are looking forward to welcoming many of the students back in September to start their post-16 studies, while others will move on to other colleges and forms of education such as apprenticeships.
Headteacher Gary Peat said: “I join all staff and governors at Lady Manners School in congratulating our year 11 students, who have worked hard to achieve well-deserved results.
“They have shown high levels of adaptability and resilience during this exceptional period and we are proud of them all. We send all students our best wishes as they progress to the next stage of their education.”
Across the country, the percentage of the top grades awarded rose most at private and selective schools, and it was a similar story at S. Anselm’s in Bakewell.
Students built on the successes of previous years with a 100 per cent pass rate including 56 per cent of grades awarded at Level 8 and above – significantly above the national average of 28.9 per cent.
In addition, 73 per cent of all grades awarded at Level 7 and above and 46 per cent of the group achieved at least four Level 9s – the highest grade awarded at GCSE.
Students will move on to a broad range of destinations, including prestigious establishments such as Birkdale School, Rugby School, St Mary’s College and d’Overbroeck’s in Oxford.
Headteacher Frank Thompson said: “I have huge respect for our college leavers this year. We cannot underestimate the disruption and uncertainty the last two years have caused for year 11, yet this cohort knuckled down and continued to apply themselves through two lockdowns and beyond.
“As a small school that prides itself on nurturing the individual through small class sizes and bespoke teaching, we were able to ensure every pupil is well prepared for the next stage of their journey. I applaud the superb efforts of each and every one. We are all immensely proud of them.”