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A-level students hailed after achieving “outstanding results”

Posted: 10 August 2021

A-level students at West Nottinghamshire College have been praised by principal and chief executive Andrew Cropley for achieving “outstanding results” and overcoming “everything the pandemic threw at them” during two turbulent years of study.

Today (Tuesday 10 August 2021) is A-level results day and as students discovered their eagerly-anticipated grades, Mr Cropley applauded them for gaining the qualifications to progress to university, take up an apprenticeship or enter employment, despite the disruption caused by Covid-19.

The college has announced an overall pass rate of 99.2%.

  • There were 358 A-level entries at the college this year (2020/21) by 129 students;
  • The college achieved 100% pass rates in 12 out of 15 subjects;
  • 55.9% of all passes were at the ‘high grades’ of A*-B – an increase of 11.8% on the previous year;
  • 35 A* grades were achieved, along with 67 A grades, and 98 B grades – meaning 200 passes were at the high grades;
  • 12 students achieved A* or A grades in all three of their A-level subjects;
  • 82.3% of grades were at A*-C, which represented a 5.5% increase on the year before;
  • At least two-thirds of students achieved a grade A*-C in every subject;
  • English language recorded a 100% pass rate for the 16th consecutive year;
  • 58.8% of students that took the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) achieved A*-B – an increase of 37.8% on last year’s figure;
  • 75% of students from low-income families achieved A*-B, while 92.9% achieved A*-C.

Mr Cropley said: “Congratulations to our A-level students who responded so positively to all that we asked of them, and everything the pandemic threw at them through these two turbulent years, to achieve these outstanding results. Their resilience, adaptability and determination to do their best, whatever the circumstances, has been well-rewarded and will serve them well in their future careers.

“I’m delighted they now have a great platform to move into their chosen next-step, whether that’s higher education, apprenticeships or full-time employment, and I wish them every success.

“These results provide a great baseline for the move into our new Mansfield and Ashfield Sixth-Form College in September, where I know the team are already developing plans and approaches to do even better next year.

“Of course, the challenges our A-level students have overcome have been felt no less by those on apprenticeships and technical or professional courses, and I congratulate all of those students on their achievements too, as they progress onto the next stage of their journey.”

Mr Cropley also reserved praise for the college’s teaching and support staff for their role in each student’s success.

“Our teachers always do a great job for our students but this year they deserve special credit. They’ve not only adapted superbly to the various lockdowns but took on the complex and critical additional task of developing and marking the assessments through which our students achieved these grades,” he said.

“They dedicated many hours to this task and, with the brilliant support of our exams and quality and standards teams, showed great professionalism to devise assessments that were fair and robust so that every student attained the grades their efforts and abilities merited.  I know our students will want to thank those teachers.

“Our support staff warrant equal recognition, as they adapted their provision, often at very short notice, to ensure that every student was able to focus as fully as possible on their studies throughout their courses.”

This was the second year students were unable to sit exams due to the pandemic, which means they have instead received teacher-assessed grades, drawing on a range of evidence including coursework or other work completed as part of their studies, such as essays or in-class tests.

Students collecting their results outlined their next steps after college, and reflected on the challenges of achieving their qualifications during the pandemic.

Florrie Bower, 18, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, achieved A* grades across the board – in biology, chemistry and psychology – plus an A grade in her extended project qualification (EPQ).

“I’m quite shocked by these grades but very happy,” she said. “They’re better than I expected, particularly in biology and chemistry. I had to work the hardest in biology – that was the toughest subject for me.”

The grades have earned Florrie a place at the University of Southampton – her first-choice institution – to study physiotherapy.

Reflecting on the challenges of studying throughout the pandemic, Florrie said: “I think it’s definitely been harder, although you eventually adjust to it. Online learning was actually OK because the teachers were really good. There was more study time and a lot of resources were put online, so you could access them whenever you wanted to.”

The teenager was delighted the grades have taken her a step towards her ambition of working as a physiotherapist.

“I’m really happy,” she said. “I’ll probably go out for dinner with my parents this evening to celebrate.”

Another students celebrating a clean sweep of A* grades was Phoebe Beardall, who achieved the highest-possible grade in all three of her subjects – English literature, history and media studies.

“I felt absolutely speechless when I opened my results envelope,” she said. “I haven’t had time to process it. I’m elated.

“A lot of effort went into achieving these grades. I started working really hard when we first went into lockdown because we didn’t know what was going to happen with our grades. So, from then on, I put 110% effort into all pieces of work because I knew how much they were going to be valued at the end.”

Despite the difficulties caused by various lockdowns, Phoebe said she felt “pretty lucky” to be able to concentrate on her studies at home.

“I have internet, a laptop and a quiet space to study, so I don’t think it affected me as much as it did other people,” she said.

“I also felt very well supported by the college, especially by my history teacher John Winfield. Learning online felt no different to being in the classroom. He was always there for us and provided loads of learning materials.”

Eighteen-year-old Phoebe, from Huthwaite, Sutton-in-Ashfield, also received support from The Access Project – a national scheme that helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds progress to some of the UK’s top universities through mentoring and personalised tuition.

“The Access Project helped me loads,” she said. “My mentor, Adam Joseph-Kerr, was really helpful and the project provided me with an English tutor, so when we went into lockdown it was like having an extra lesson each week. It was invaluable.”

Phoebe is now set to study English literature at the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland. She added: “I’ve always felt it was my best subject.  Career-wise, I haven’t thought too far ahead, although I know I’d like do something involving English – maybe teaching.

“I’m going into Nottingham with my friends later for a good celebration.”

A very surprised Amy Meeson, from Mansfield, revealed she’d achieved A* grades in all three of her subjects.

“I studied maths, psychology and biology and I’ve got an A* in all of them,” she said.

“I was pretty much expecting a high grade in maths but definitely not in biology. I thought I was going to get a B so I was very surprised.

“I can’t stop smiling! My mum and dad are here with me today so we all hugged when I opened the results.”

Amy, 18, praised the college for the support it provided through the “difficult pandemic”.

“I still got all the information I needed for my college work and the teaching has been of a high standard and I adapted quite well. Every one of my tutors has been great throughout this, supporting us brilliantly,” she said.

Amy added: “I’m off to the University of York to study psychology. I’m thinking of going down the clinical psychology route, either a mental health career path or neurological studies.

“I hadn’t made any plans to celebrate my results but I think I’ll be making some now!”

Ryley Eyre, 18, from Annesley, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, described himself as “so happy” after achieving an A* in maths and A grades in both biology and chemistry.

“I came to collect my results fearing the worst as it’s not been my year really, due to a few unlucky instances – but I’ve come away with these grades!” he said.

“I’m so happy. I thought ‘yes!’ – I won’t miss out on university, I can go after all.”

Ryley hopes the grades have secured him a place at the University of Nottingham, his preferred choice, to study chemistry.

He said: “I worked really hard for these grades. I didn’t take a single day off over the whole two years at college. I never missed a lesson, whether in class or online.”

Despite the challenges of studying during the pandemic, Ryley says the situation benefited him.

“I made the most of the free time I had and actually did more study,” he insisted.

“I also felt I could more freely ask my teachers questions because I sometimes felt a bit shy asking questions in class, so being able to send my teachers a message on Microsoft Teams really suited me.

“My tutors were always there for me and able to answer any questions about my subjects.”

Ryley insisted he was “really looking forward” to telling his friends and family about his results.

“I think they’ll be very proud of me,” he said.

Cool, calm and collected best described Connor Davis, who scored a trio of high grades.

“I got A* in sociology and A grades in history and law – so yeah, not bad! I was kind of expecting this and I’m really happy – I’m just not one for shouting about things!” he said.

Connor, from Worksop, is now set for the University of Durham to study history.

“History is something I’ve always enjoyed because I love seeing how things change through different events in the world and learning about them in-depth. I’m going to see where the course takes me before thinking about careers,” he explained.

Eighteen-year-old Connor is another student who worked with The Access Project.

He said: “It was good to build The Access Project into my schedule at college as this helped me make sure I was working on all the right skills and knowledge with my history studies and heading in the right direction.”

Speaking about his plans to toast his results, Connor said: “I’ve got to do a shift at work tonight but I’ll definitely be celebrating later on!”

Phoebe Harling, 18, from Pinxton, declared herself “still in shock” after discovering she had achieved an A* in psychology, A* in sociology and a B in chemistry.

She said: “I knew I’d tried my hardest and done well in class, but really didn’t expect A* grades at all. In the back of my mind I was preparing myself for As and Bs but I’ve proved myself wrong!

“This means I can go to the University of Nottingham to study children’s nursing.

“It’s been a very strange couple of years but I’ve dealt with the pandemic quite well. Online learning is hard and you don’t always have the same motivation as you do in class, but I feel I’ve done well to get the grades I did.

“I always made an effort to speak to people on the phone or on email, and made sure I kept a good work/life balance like making sure I was going for a walk or reading a book – not doing college work all the time.

“I’m looking forward to going to the pub tonight with a couple of friends to celebrate!”

Nineteen-year-old Jessica Jones was also left feeling “totally shocked” after exceeding her own ambitious expectations.

She said: “I’ve got A* grades in my EPQ, psychology and sociology and a B in law. I was expecting to get relatively high grades but not this high!

“I’m going to be heading off to the University of Nottingham, which is my first-choice, to study psychology. I’d love to go on to become a forensic psychologist and get into this side of the industry.”

Jessica, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, described the last two years as being “very up and down”, adding:

“It’s very important to concentrate on your mental health during times like these and be kind to yourself.

“College life really helped me to develop my confidence and this was helped by everyone being so supportive across the board.”

The teenager also praised the support she received from The Access Project while at college.

“It was wonderful as they helped me decide on which university to apply to and helped me see the many opportunities available out there in terms of studying,” she said.

A set of top grades will help Ellie Bailey, 18, see more of the world in the coming months.

She said: “I’ve just opened my envelope to see I’ve achieved A* in sociology and A grades in history and law. I feel really overwhelmed and I can’t stop grinning!

“My aim is to attend the University of Sheffield to study law and I applied for their Global Summer Experience Scholarship which is only open to 30 people. I had to achieve A* and two A grades to get on to this – I did it and I’m so happy!

“I will go abroad for eight weeks in my first year and have listed Canada, Denmark and Sweden as my top choices, so I can’t wait to see where I end up travelling to.

“My career ambitions are focused on becoming a barrister. Since around year 9 I have been fascinated by law and always wanted to attend Sheffield too, so I’m really fortunate to be achieving my dreams.”

Ellie, from Creswell, continued: “I’ve been so lucky to have my mum’s support all through my studies. Even when things got tough she reminded me to keep working hard if I want to advance to university. She’s helped me to keep going – she’s been great.

“My tutors have always been there for me too. The entire college support network is amazing. I’ve really enjoyed my time there and made such a strong friendship group. We’re all going out in Nottingham tonight to celebrate.”

West Nottinghamshire College offers one of the largest choices of A-levels under one roof in Mansfield and Ashfield. It also offers a wide range of vocational qualifications, along with higher national certificates (HNCs) and higher national diplomas (HNDs).

From September the college’s A-level provision will be delivered from its new Mansfield and Ashfield Sixth-Form College, based at the Chesterfield Road campus. The building, in Mansfield town centre, has undergone a £500,000 refurbishment and features fully-equipped classrooms, science labs, IT suites, and social and supports areas to provide a dedicated sixth-form where students can achieve their full potential using state-of-the-art facilities, underpinned by high-quality teaching.

Anybody interested in studying at the college should call 0808 100 3626.

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100% A Level pass rate in 2020.

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One of the top colleges in the UK for student satisfaction.**Learner Exit Survey 2019/20

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