'Uplifting' A-level results day at Vandyke Upper in Leighton Buzzard after emotional rollercoaster for students
It was a very different A-level results day for the students and staff of Vandyke Upper School following the emotional rollercoaster of recent months created by the pandemic.
Unable to sit exams this year due to Covid-19, anxious teenagers waited for an email to arrive which would reveal whether they had been awarded the grades they had targeted.
Headteacher Tim Carroll said: “The extra long wait for results this year is finally over and Sixth Form students have received their results today. It has been a very different sort of results day to normal as students received their results by email.
"Sadly we could not encourage students and parents to congregate in school as so usually happens to congratulate each other and share the moment for reasons that we all understand disappointing though that is. Instead we ensured that they all received their results at the same time at 8am this morning and the important task of contacting university admissions departments could get underway to check places.
“Despite that it has been an uplifting day speaking to many students and meeting with some in person to discuss next steps and to congratulate them. So many students have achieved so well with more than 55% gaining top grades of A*-B and over 80% at A*-C. Some grades were lowered through the exam boards’ standardisation process and we will support appeals where appropriate.
“More than 75% of students are intending to go on to university and almost all have already managed to have their place confirmed. Others have achieved excellent results and are choosing not to go to university but are moving on to advanced apprenticeships or employment. We wish them all every success.”
Retiring director of Sixth Form Sean Downey also paid tribute to the students, saying: "This year group have been a joy to work with and even though the results they have received today are outstanding, I believe they would have achieved even higher grades had they been given the opportunity to sit their examinations.
"I am extremely proud of all of them; they are a close knit group with a rich array of talents and have all the skills, aptitudes and personal qualities to become successful, active citizens, in a fast changing and increasingly challenging world. This for me has always been the key purpose of education. I wish them every success and happiness in the future."
Nicole Cameron got A* in Further maths, maths and physics with A in English Literature and has a place at top university UCL to study maths.
“Living in London will be exciting with all the hustle and bustle compared to how quiet it is in Leighton Buzzard. I have always enjoyed maths ever since I was at Leedon Lower School and Brooklands,“ Nicole said. “I have a mentor from Morgan Stanley and am thinking I might go into banking after university. I feel ready to move on and it is strange to think 5 years have gone but I have enjoyed my time at Vandyke, it’s been brilliant.”
Katherine Moor and Amy Entwistle are both going to study Occupational Therapy, Katherine at Christchurch, Canterbury and Amy at Oxford Brookes. Katherine studied Health and Social Care and Drama, Amy Drama, BTEC Sport and Music. “I’ve loved my time at Vandyke,” Amy said. “I am sad to be leaving. It has all ended so well.
Maisie Janes got straight A* grades in Psychology, Media Studies and English and will go on to study Psychology at Birmingham University. “Something just clicked for me with psychology," Maisie said. “Vandyke has been such a friendly school. It really is the teachers who make it such a nice place to be.”
Asked how she will be celebrating getting her place at university, Maisie said: “I’m having fish and chips with my grandparents!”
Ben Gilroy studied History, Law and English and will be going to university in Liverpool to read History. He said: “Vandyke has worked so well for me and given me so many opportunities. I have loved my history lessons in particular and that has led me to choose to study history at uni. The course starts on 28 September so I’ve got to sort out my accommodation now and start to get ready.”
Joe Edwards will be going to Pembroke College, Cambridge having got A* grades in all of his subjects. “I couldn’t have done this without my teachers,” Joe said. “I had so much help in applying for Oxbridge. I am really excited about going to Cambridge and they have sent me a reading list already – it’s got 31 books on it! I am going to miss Vandyke hugely because I have loved my time here.”
Molly Collins got her grades in Drama, History and Media Studies and so can take up her place to study History and Sociology at the University of Sussex. “The Sixth Form years have been the very best,“ Molly said. “I have had great relationships with my teachers and we all got on so well as a group of students. I have thrived here. I was especially involved in student voice work and I really enjoyed that. It is important to know that your opinion counts and I think that is very strong at Vandyke.”
Rhiannon Stiller achieved straight A* grades in her four A Levels and will go to university in Leeds. She said: “I’m so happy with the results I got today! Hopefully having these results will help me with studying law at the University of Leeds and eventually going on to work for an international organisation like the UN or WHO!”
Mr Carroll added:, “Vandyke students work hard and are engaged and enquiring learners. They are very well taught and very well supported by staff and so make strong progress in their time in the Vandyke Sixth Form.
"Today is all about individual students and after the emotional rollercoaster of recent months we are delighted that they are able finally to move on. Students have worked so hard over two years and have been a pleasure to teach.
"Sixth Form courses are demanding and students deserve every credit for their achievements. This is an exciting time for them and they deserve our congratulations and best wishes.”
Mr Carroll has also released a joint statement with the headteacher of neighbouring Cedars Upper School, Steve Palmer, which reads: "Following a year of unprecedented circumstances and disruption, our students, who have shown admirable resilience, have been awarded their A Level and BTEC results today.
"They have coped superbly with such uncertainty and displayed great fortitude in unheralded times. They have faced much uncertainty and a constantly changing situation regarding their final A Level and BTEC grades.
"Students have been awarded grades by the exam boards following schools submitting “centre assessed grades” for each student and it is clear that in all schools across the country some of these grades have been lowered by the exam boards' moderation process.
"Schools have the right to appeal grades that have been changed if they believe the criteria set out by the government been met and students also have the opportunity to sit exams in the autumn term.
"The government has also announced that students can appeal to use mock exam grades if they are higher than the grades awarded today but we are waiting for guidance as to how this process will work. Staff will be available to respond to students' queries and support their decisions about their next steps."