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Down, but not downhearted
Published 26/08/14

STUDENTS in Henley, South Oxfordshire and Berkshire had mixed emotions as they received their A-level results.

Pass rates at many state schools across the region were down on last year, mirroring the national figures which fell for the first time in more than 30 years.

However, thousands of teenagers will be heading to university next month after achieving the grades they needed.

The Henley College achieved a pass rate of 99 per cent, up one per cent on last year, with 28 subjects at the college recording 100 per cent success.

The proportion of students who attained A* to C grades remained at three-quarters, with 20 per cent achieving A* or A grade.

Principal Tom Espley said: “I am delighted that our results have improved once again and that a record number of our students have been accepted by Russell Group universities.”

Among the top performers was Will Manson, of School Fields, Shiplake, who is going to study maths at Cambridge University after passing all seven of his A-levels.

The 18-year-old achieved A* in maths, further maths, additional further maths, physics and computing and A grades in French and ICT. He hopes to work in computer software in the future.

Will said: “I’m delighted. My parents have been really supportive and I’d like to thank them for all they’ve done. Cambridge was my first choice and I can’t wait to start.”

Eve Alcock, from Whitchurch, achieved A*s in biology and psychology and an A grade in history.

Next month, she will begin a four-year psychology course at Bath University with a year abroad.

The 18-year-old said: “I’m so happy. All my hard work has paid off. I’m going out to celebrate with my friends.”

Amy Lishman, of Southern Avenue, Henley, will be going to Portsmouth University to study business management.

She achieved B grades in law and business and a C in English literature after studying for three years instead of the normal two due to illness.

Amy, 18, who has also secured a work placement in Disney’s UK marketing department, said: “I’m really looking forward to next year.

“I’ve always wanted to work in business — it has been a passion of mine — and I’m thinking about teaching it in the future.

“I’ve had a lot of health and family issues throughout college. I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment and couldn’t have done it without my teacher, Hannah Edwards-Arnison. She’s supported me through the whole three years.”

The Piggott School in Wargrave recorded a 99.3 per cent pass rate, down from 100 per cent last year.

However, the proportion of A* and A grades went up from 27 per cent in 2013 to 32 per cent.

Every student in photography, art, further maths and Spanish achieved a C or higher.

Two students, Andrew Hartland and Gareth Bird, will be going to Oxford University next year.

Andrew, of Fidlers Walk, Wargrave, achieved A*s in maths and biology as well as A grades in chemistry and further maths.

The 18-year-old, who will study biomedical science, said: “It’s incredible really. There’s a lot of relief when you finally see your results.

“I woke up quite early and just watched the clock tick by until I could come in to school. I rang my family as soon as I saw them and they are all over the moon.”

Andrew Lewis, of Watermans Way, Wargrave, will study chemical engineering at Birmingham University after he achieved an A* in maths and A grades in chemistry and physics.

Andrew, 18, said: “It’s unbelievable. I’m really excited about university now.I’m going to go out with my friends and cut loose a bit.”

Headteacher Hilary Winter, who is retiring this summer, said: “These excellent results are rich reward for both staff and students at the school for the tireless and enthusiastic approach they have shown in their shared endeavours during the past two years.

“This cohort of students joined the school when I did and I am proud of what they have achieved. I couldn’t have wished for a better leaving present.”

At Highdown School and Sixth Form Centre in Emmer Green, the overall pass rate was 97.5 per cent, down one per cent on last year.

The number of students scoring three or more A* to C grades fell by two per cent to 36.6 per cent.

However, five per cent of students achieved three or more A* to A grades, a four per cent increase.

The highest achievers included Zara Markovic-Obiago, 18, of Lady Jane Court, Caversham.

She was awarded A* grades in maths, chemistry and biology and will study medicine for six years at St Peter’s College, Oxford.

Zara said: “I’m pretty happy as I didn’t expect to get three A*s. There was a lot of revision involved. We’ll all be going into town to have dinner and celebrate with our families and friends.”

Her lifelong friend Jennifer Preston, 18, of Mayfield Drive, Caversham, achieved A*s in English and history and a C in philosophy.

She is going to the University of Birmingham to study for a liberal arts degree.

Jennifer, who has known Zara since they were two and attended the Hill Primary School together, said: “The C grade was a bit weird but I don’t care, I got into uni.

“I feel pretty good as it was a decent result. It was at the back of my mind that I might do well but you have to prepare for the worst.”

Headteacher Rachel Cave said: “We’ve really worked at making sure the students are prepared for the tougher questions at the very top end. It’s a very proud day. The students are going off to university with great results and feeling very excited.”

In Oxfordshire as a whole, 93 per cent of students passed at least two A-levels, with 43 per cent having achieved a B grade or above.

Melinda Tilley, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for children, education and families, said: “Results day represents the culmination of years of hard work on the part of the young people themselves and the efforts of dedicated teaching staff across the county.

“Parents also play a crucial role in supporting their children through the exam period, which can be extremely stressful, and the achievements of students are always a huge credit to their families.”

Pass rates for Wokingham borough remained at 99 per cent, although the proportion of students who achieved A* to C grade fell from 81.6 per cent to 79.7 per cent.

Councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services, said: “I’m delighted with the results. They really do show that young people do well in the Wokingham borough.

“I want to thank our schools and parents for all their commitment.

“Today is a day to congratulate the young people who have got their results through after years of real engagement and hard study.

“These results are a well-deserved reward for their personal enthusiasm and efforts and will stand them in good stead for the future.”

In Reading as a whole, 96 per cent of students achieved a pass, with 83 per cent of those a C grade or above.

Councillor John Ennis, Reading Borough Council’s lead member for education, said: “Congratulations to Reading’s A-level students and teaching staff for another year of excellent results.

“This year’s grades show once again the amount of work that has gone into driving up standards in our schools.”


Published 26/08/14

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