GCSE students praised for ‘resilience and character’ after tough two years
This was the first time exams have taken place since 2019, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020 and 2021 students received results based on teacher-assessed grades.
Grades, nationally, were as expected, lower on average this year with the government being keen to reverse ‘grade inflation’.
But at Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College (LSFC) many students were happy to have secured the results they needed to move on to A levels, apprenticeships or T Levels.
Travis Daly was delighted with his results after achieving a 7 grade in English language, 5s in maths and English literature, and 4s in business and an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification).
And he was full of praise for LSFC, where he did his exams through the Step-up Pathway, which helps students aged 16 to 18 gain GCSEs.
‘An amazing college full of camaraderie’
He said: “These results have exceeded what I was hoping for.
“I’ve found it amazing here. I really preferred the camaraderie of the college, it was significantly better than my secondary school where everyone was just in little factions fighting against each other.
“Here, everyone just gets along. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are, everyone’s just together – we’re all friends. I owe the college so much – my teachers were contacting me almost every day to ask me how I was getting on. I’m so happy to know I’m now going to be doing A levels, it’s the best feeling.”
Travis is planning to do A levels in history, law and politics with Leeds Sixth Form College, and then aims to study law at the University of Toronto, in Canada.
A route back into education
Ro Elliott was also celebrating some great results despite having had to sit her five GCSEs, through LSFC’s Step-up programme, while suffering from the flu.
She achieved a grade 7 in biology and chemistry, a 6 in physics and 5s in English and maths. She is now planning to study A levels in biology, chemistry and psychology – with a goal of progressing into medicine.
She said: “My time here has been really enjoyable. I wasn’t really in full time education for a lot of secondary school which is why I didn’t get the opportunity to do my GCSEs properly, so the fact the college introduced this course was really beneficial to me.
“And the fact it was only three days a week as well felt like a really good introductory step to getting back into education.”
A great alternative to school
Libby Watkins is looking forward to studying science-focused A levels at LSFC after getting the GCSE grades she needed in maths, English and science.
Reflecting on her time at Leeds City College’s 14+ Academies, which provides an alternative learning environment to school for young adults, she said: “It’s been really good, I’ve enjoyed the atmosphere which is so friendly.
“The teachers here are good too, they’re nice people – human! Going back to high school wasn’t an option for me and home schooling wasn’t getting me quite as far as I needed to be. So I joined here not realising how good it actually was at first.”
Balancing studying with parenting
Many adult learners have also been celebrating their results. Kertu Babik, whose first language is Estonian, was celebrating getting all 9s and 8s in her five GCSEs (maths, English, combined science and citizenship).
She said: “It was interesting at Leeds Sixth Form College. At first I was a bit worried because it was my first time studying in the English language. It took a few weeks but then it felt good, and the teachers were inspiring and motivating, and made me feel really welcome.
“I’ve got two kids, one aged two and one four, so one of the hardest things was to be on time for classes, and to study after they had gone to sleep!”
Kertu is now heading to the University of Leeds to study an Interdisciplinary Science with Foundation Year course, with a view to progressing into medicine.
Reflecting on this year’s results, Niki McKenna, Interim Headteacher of the 14+ Academies, said: “GCSE results day is always full of all sorts of emotions but the key thing we feel today is pride, because of how our young people have dealt with a really tough year.
“Our learners have probably been most affected by Covid-19 in terms of the amount of teaching they’ve missed, but we’re really proud of the resilience, determination and character they’ve shown to push through that. And we’re really happy with the level of progress that they’ve made.
“We’ve worked really hard to make them happy and confident individuals and spent a lot of time working on holistic skills to help them be resilient, while also focusing on their academic progress.”
More details on the 14+ Academies can be found here.