TODAY is GCSE results day, and crowds of young adults across Penarth are picking up their marks.
This year examinations were scrapped again meaning results are based on teachers’ assessments and classroom tests rather than formal exams.
Pupils have known their provisional results since June but they will be formally confirmed today and a Wales-wide picture revealed for the first time.
At St Cyres School, many were opening their brown evelopes with big smiles.
Especially 16-year-old Muhammad Tahirkheli who achieved 10 A* grades. He is planning on doing maths, chemistry, biology, and psychology at A-level.
“I think I did really well,” he said.
When reflecting on the past year, studying throughout a pandemic, he added that it was not as ‘easy’ as he expected it to be.
“We had to sit assessments and I was also fasting during this time, so it was quite difficult.
“But, I think that the hardwork did pay off. As long as you try hard, you’ll be able to get what you want in the end.”
Another pupil who did extremely well is 16-year-old Amr Maher, who is off to Eton College on a scholarship after getting the A* grades that he needed.
Amr said he is feeling really pleased about his results and will be celebrating with the family tonight.
Deborah (right) achieved 8 A* grades and four As and will be staying on at St Cyres School to study A-level chemistry, biology and further maths. Deborah will be celebrating by going for a meal with the family later.
Sofia (left) achieved all A* to C grades and will also be staying on at the school to study geography, biology, psychology and art. Sofia said she feels “surprised, happy, and proud” about her grades.
Deputy head of St Cyres, Rob Bruton, said: “Huge congratulations to all pupils today and on Tuesday who have collected results.
“A massive well done to you all on your achievements in extremely difficult circumstances.
“You all should be very proud!”
Students at Westbourne School, Penarth, area also celebrating today after achieving record GCSE results.
100 per cent of students at the award-winning school attained A*-C (9-4 under the reformed GCSE grading system), with 86 per cent achieving the highest grades, A*/A (9-7), showing improvement across the board on last year’s already outstanding grades.
Westbourne Principal, Dr. Gerard Griffiths, praised the school’s ‘incredible cohort’ today, saying: “We are delighted with these grades, which are testament to the determination of our GCSE pupils to succeed in the face of adversity – as well as the incredible collaboration and support from parents and teachers.
“Lockdown will go down in history as the single biggest hurdle school students have ever faced, forcing them to change the way they learn.
“The results today are our best to date; but most importantly are a true reflection of the ability and potential of this incredible cohort, who have been undeterred by the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.”
Exceptional performances came from Olivia Dickson with 11 grade 9s, along with Mayra Hobrok in Year 10, who skipped Year 9 to be awarded four grade 9s two years early.
Lilian Yearwood, who scored an excellent 10 grade 9s, one grade 8 and an A*, was overjoyed at her results this morning, explaining: “I’m really happy and relieved.
“I am thankful to my teachers for their help during these difficult couple of years”.
The school’s Pre-IB cohort all attained a minimum of five GCSEs at top grades. The Pre-IB programme is a rigorous, year-long course designed to prepare students for the academic challenges of the two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in Sixth Form.
Dr. Griffiths recognised the importance of the personalised, one-to-one support provided to Westbourne students remotely throughout Wales’ two lockdowns.
He continued: “It was our overarching objective to support each student through lockdown on an individual basis, both academically and personally.
“As well as offering 24/7 support online, we implemented new technologies to enable students to thrive remotely, appointing a new Director of Online Education and retraining staff to teach online so that no student was disadvantaged.
“Alongside an uninterrupted daily schedule of intensive online lessons and wellbeing sessions, we were one of the first schools in Wales to use artificial intelligence to enhance the way pupils learn.
“However, the grades themselves, brilliant as they are, represent only a part of the Everest this unique group of children have reached together over the last 18 months – unrivalled work ethic, unfaltering attitude to learn a completely different way and a determination to not let even a global pandemic stop them achieving and surpassing their targets.
“They have earned not only the respect of the school but stand as the groundbreaking role models for those who come after them.”
Westbourne’s record-breaking GCSE results follow the school’s best ever Sixth Form results last month, in which 50 per cent of Westbourne students achieved over 40 points (the A Level equivalent of 4 A*’s), with 85 per cent attaining 7/6 (A*/A equivalent) and 96.8 per cent (A*-B).
The results secured students entry to some of the country’s top universities, including the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and UCL.
The outstanding results today come after more than a year of uncertainty for the Penarth-based students, who have persevered with their studies under unprecedented levels of pressure.
“Students up and down the country should be so proud today of everything they have achieved and schools applauded for putting the needs – and futures – of these young people above everything else”, concluded Dr. Griffiths.