The sun was shining on Sixth Form students in Amble today as they picked up their A-Level results.
The new specifications in course content and exams have made it a strenuous year for many across the country, but students at James Calvert Spence College appear to have risen to the challenge.
Headteacher Neil Rodgers said he is delighted with today’s results.
He added: “We’ve got a lot of youngsters with Distinction* in a lot of our vocational subjects, but also some great performances in the traditional A-Levels, especially English and maths. Our lowest grade in maths this year was a C, which is fantastic.
“We have been trying to adapt to the new specifications this year, and I think one of the things that makes our school so unique and so positive for the student experience on a whole is the smaller class sizes, which means we can give bespoke attention to those individuals that need the extra help and support to meet the more strenuous criteria in the new specifications. Small classes really do help with that.”
And, despite the challenges this year, the students themselves have exceeded their own expectations.
For 19-year-old Faye James, her successful two distinction stars in business studies and health and social care, alongside her B in sociology, have left her feeling ‘ridiculously overwhelmed’ after facing academic and personal challenges in the past year.
“I really didn’t think I was going to get the results that I did,” she said.
“In terms of school, it has been a really hard year. But I have had loads going on at home.
“My dad passed away this year, so it has been absolutely horrific. I genuinely did not want to go to school. I had no motivation. And then this morning, getting the results that I did, this has just changed everything.
“I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s just amazing. I did not ever expect to do it because of the year I’ve had. I think this has just given me more motivation to go to uni. I cannot believe it, I’m genuinely in shock.”
Faye now looks to the future, and plans on studying social work in Leeds.
Also looking forward to university is 18-year-old Kathryn Wilkinson who, after achieving A*,A* and B in biology, English literature and chemistry, is going to Newcastle University to study biology, which was her first choice.
She said: “I’m just so relieved, I was so nervous before. You tell yourself you shouldn’t be but I was super nervous, I have been for the past week.
“The thought of results just goes into your head and your heart rate picks up.”
Manpreet Kaur, 18, achieved A and B grades in geography and English language and a distinction star in business studies. She is also going to Newcastle University, studying business management, something she says she has always wanted to do.
“I’m still in shock to be honest I just can’t believe it.”
Andrew Oliver, 18, says he definitely feels the relief now the results are in his hands.
He said: “I’m happy it’s all over now. I’m so relieved. From last year, it has been a lot harder, the courses really took it up a notch. But I came out all right so I can’t complain.
“History was the big one for me, I was expecting a U, maybe an E at a push, but somehow I came out with a D so I’m buzzing with that.
“I checked UCAS this morning before I came in so I knew I had got into university, which made it much easier to open that envelope this morning.”
After getting two Ds in history and design technology, and a distinction and a distinction star in two Btecs, he plans on going to Northumbria University to study film and TV production.
Also feeling pleasantly surprised is 18-year-old Amy Humes, who managed to secure a higher mark in one of her Btec studies than she was originally given.
She said: “It’s only just sunk in now. I’m really happy because my GCSEs did not go as well, so I’ve worked really, really hard for my A-Levels, and just having them here in my hand, I’m over the moon.”
With two distinction stars in health and social care, a distinction star in business studies and a distinction in ICT, Amy now plans on going to Northumbria University to take up childhood studies, with the hopes of becoming a primary school teacher.
Jack Coulson, 18, was definitely feeling the nerves this morning, but is now in his way to Newcastle University after achieving B,C and D grades in design technology, maths and physics.
“ I was really nervous this morning, woke up pretty early actually,” he said. “I’m so relieved. I’m just happy it’s over. I got into Newcastle University to study mechanical engineering so I’m pretty happy.”
And for maths teacher Mr McInally, his pride as a teacher was somewhat personal, as four of his high-achieving students were also his pupils at Druridge Bay Middle School, which he worked at before its closure in 2011.
He said: “The three girls, Abby Sheldon, Rachel Thew and Kirsty Armstrong, all got a B and Nathan Mossman got an A which, actually, this time last year, is a lot better than any of them were expecting to get. So, obviously, we are all really chuffed with the results.
“And, personally, because I had taught them for many years, it means a lot. They’re good kids. They have done really well. They were always sensible, they had always worked hard, done exactly what I asked them to do, in all the years that I taught them.”
Rachael Brown, head of Sixth Form at the school, said: “Overall, I’m really happy with the results, we have improved since last year. With the new specifications, the students have really rose to the challenge. I’m so proud of them.
“This was my last year as head of sixth form, so I feel a little disappointed but happy to be moving on as well. I’m not going far, I’m staying here though, it’s just a change of roles.”
Taking over from Rachael is former head of PE James Moore, who said: “It has been a really positive morning. All of the key indicators have gone up. The students seem really happy. A lot of them who wanted to go to university are now on their way.”
When asked how he would tackle the challenging new specifications when he starts in September, he responded: “It would just be a case of straight away analysing the students’ performance so far, looking at what intervention we can do early on, checking to see what they need and how they are going to go from there and how we can tweak things slightly where necessary.
“It looks pretty positive for next year. You always look to improve progress everywhere so I hope to continue the progress we’ve made so far. I’m very excited.”
Lewis Anderson, D,Di*,Di*; Kirsty Armstrong, B,B,B; Lauren Belisle, C,D,Di*,Di; Samuel Bickerton, Di,Pass; Brittany Bowers, C,C,D; Grace Bryson, Di*,D,E; Philip Campbell, C,D,Di*; Natasha Carr, C,D,Di*; Jamie Christie, B,B,B,Di*; Jack Coulson, B,C,D,Di*; Dylan Ferries, D,Di,Di*; Megan Grainger, D,Di*,Di*; Bethany Grey, D,D,Di*; Amy Hume, Di*Di*,Di*,Di; Tom Hunter, C,Di,Me,Pass; Faye James, B,Di*,Di*; Alex Jobe, Di,Di,Pa; Kieran Jobe, D,Me; Sammie-Jo Jones, E,Di*,Di; Manpreet Kaur, A,B,Di*; Connor Lee, C,C,Di*; Rose Marshall, B,C,C; Jade Mather, C,D,U; Jack Matthews, D,Di*,Di*,Di*; Ben Middlemass, C,E,Di*
Robby Morley, C,E,Di*; Nathan Mossman, A,B,D,Di*; Ryan Mossman, Pa,Pa; Susan Nelson, Di*Di*, Di*,Di; Aaron Oliver, Di,Pa,Pa; Andrew Oliver, D,D,Di; Alex Penrose, B,D,E,Di*; Niamh Pirie, A,C; Adam Potts, C,D,Di*; Francesca Pringle, B,C,C; Bethany Roberts-Wallace, D,Di*,Di; Jordan Seaton, D,D,Me; Abby Sheldon, B,C,C; Courtney Stewart, D,E,Me; Jo Stiansen, B,C,D,Di*; Rachel Thew, A,A,B; Kathryn Wilkinson, A*,A*,B; Katie Worthington, C,D,D