Penarth’s A-Level pupils were celebrating today as they called-in at the town’s two secondary schools to collect the sealed envelopes containing the results which, in many cases, will be the key their futures.
For most of the students it’s their “last day at school” – a day to wish their friends well, to thank their teachers, to confirm their university places and to celebrate with their parents .
For others – half-way through the sixth form – it was the day they picked up their “AS” results and find out whether they can go through to the next stage of their studies.
This year the results are complicated by the increasing popularity of the Welsh Baccalaureate – a Wales-only examination which many English universities were once wary about, but which is now graded and therefore increasingly being accepted as being on a par with “ordinary” A levels. [Oxford and Cambridge still insist on the traditional A Levels and don’t yet accept the “Welsh Bacc”] .
ST CYRES SCHOOL
The performance of St Cyres School has now reached a new level with a 5% increase in A-Level grades at A Star and A .
Headteacher Dr Jonathan Hicks says 79% of the school’s results were graded A Star to C – reflecting a further improvement on previous years.
Dr Hicks says “98% of the St Cyres Sixth Form students were awarded the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma – and there’s been a large increase in the number of grades awarded a A Star and A.”
He’s also congratulated a number of Year 12 students on impressive successes in their AS examinations .
Dr Hicks said today “The hard work of our students and the professionalism and dedication of our teaching staff who have supported them every step of the way have once again produced excellent results” .
A number of students at St Cyres live in Cardiff and have been travelling to Penarth every day to attend. Now most of them are about to leave home for the first time as they head for universities all over the UK.
In a message to parents – and to what are now former pupils – Dr Hicks said “Our Year-13 students have risen to the challenges we have set them – and we are incredibly proud of them. I congratulate them on their achievements and wish them well in the next stage of their lives .”
Some parents drove their offspring to school just one last time – but the majority of parents waited at home or at work -waiting for a phone call to hear how their sons and daughters had got on in what for most will be a watershed moment in their lives.
Meanwhile there’s been similar jubilation at Penarth’s Stanwell School – which is consistently rated as one of the top secondary schools in Wales.
Overall, there were 101 A-Star grades awarded including the Welsh Bacc and 473 pupils achieved grades between A-Star and B grades (63% of entry with the Welsh Bacc). A total of 203 students (98% of entry) achieved the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma.
Maths students were awarded 40 A-Star or A grades (57% of entry). In addition, the computing, French, film studies and German departments were also very pleased with the student’s results, where 80%, 83%, 75% and 75% of the candidates secured A-Star to B, respectively.
Assistant Head Mark Lewis says the increasing popularity of the “Welsh Bacc” means that fewer students than in earlier years are attempting the maximum of 4 ordinary A Levels as their ‘Welsh Baccalaureate’ now counts as the full equivalent of an A Level .
The ‘Welsh Bacc’ is a complicating factor in comparing this year’s A Level achievements with previous years. However, at Stanwell a total of 25 pupils attained 3 or more A Levels at “A-Star” or “A” grades.
Stanwell’s top scorers include Katie McCloud who has 3 A-Stars and an A-Star in Welsh Bacc, Abigail Hodges ( 3 A-Stars and Welsh Bac A-Stars) , Stephanie Friend (2 A-stars and 2 Welsh Bac A-Stars) Sarah Brabham (above) (2 A-Stars, 1 A and 1 Welsh Bac A-Star) and Will Brown (2 A-Stars and 1 A).
Mr Lewis says that during the next few years several subject-syllabuses will be changing and in three or four years’ time there will be – in effect- a brand new “Wales-only” curriculum. No pupils based in England will be able to take any of Welsh Exams and the WJEC – the Welsh examination board – will have to write a separate examination for English-based pupils.
There are other differences too – inasmuch as the “AS” (half-way-house sixth form qualification) counts towards the full A Level in Wales – but doesn’t in England.
Mr Lewis says the whole examination system is in throes of a massive change. Next year’s “Welsh Bacc” will have a new curriculum and all the science syllabuses will be different . The A Level maths syllabus is also being changed. On top of all that the GCSE in Wales (the exam for 15/16 year olds) is also being modified at the same time .
For those that want to know how the results get to the schools – apparently they’re sent by email on a secure server 24 hours in advance .
The school then verifies them and prints off the all important individual sheets for each student giving them the full details of their grades.
This morning the anxious wait for all the students – and their parents – was over and it was time to start celebrating.
The chairman of the governors at Stanwell, Tony Rogers, said today “This has been another very good year for the school; we congratulate all of our students on their achievements and wish them continued success in everything they do in the future.”