GCSE results day generated the customary mix of emotion, relief and delight at London Oratory School, as a line of boys marched down Sulgrave Road, Fulham, to collect their envelopes – many wearing rucksacks, en route to the Reading Festival; the traditional rite of passage.
Tiernan Clarke, 16, managed to remain cool and collected as he read down a list of nine A-C grades which included As in history and RE… but his mother, Mary Holland, was in floods of tears.
“It’s a very emotional time,” she said. “It’s been a brilliant school; he just wouldn’t have got there if it hadn’t been for the school. Forget results; I’m talking about the pastoral care here. There’s a real sense of pride.”
Tiernan himself enjoyed his school days so much that he’s now looking forward to life in the Oratory sixth form, studying history, biology and economics – once the Reading Festival is out of the way.
“We are very pleased with the GCSE results, and we are delighted with the strong achievements of our pupils,” said Dr Gary Howells, senior master.
“The pupils worked positively with their hard-working and committed teachers. We look forward to working with these pupils in the sixth form and anticipate they will continue to contribute fully to the life of the school taking full advantage of our rich academic and co-curricular programmes.”
Jimmy Sarzosa, 16, is another who will be staying on into the sixth form, having gained A* grades in music and French, As in maths, physics, design & technology and chemistry, Bs in biology and English, and a C in religious studies.
“I suppose I had hoped I might just get up to A* in maths and physics,” he admitted. “But I’ve had a great five years here. It’s a good school, it keeps you motivated and the teaching is good.”
Jimmy, who strolls to school from his home in nearby Earls Court, aims to study maths, physics, music and Spanish at A level, with the possible aim of a career in engineering.
Another in the 9am queue, waiting for the glass doors of the school to open and the subsequent envelope distribution, was Joe Rowe, 16, of Dulwich. He was pleased with his A in design & technology, which means he will stay on to study the subject in the school’s sixth form.
It’s been a busy summer for Joe. After a holiday in Bulgaria and another surfing in Portugal (“It’s a shame I can’t do surfing A level”), he had brought his kit bag to school to head straight to Reading, where he was most looking forward to hearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fetty Wap (“He’s only got one eye, you know”).
With A*s in chemistry, German, geography, history, maths and RE, and “As in everything else”, Aaron Albuquerque had to sit down on one of the London Oratory benches to take in his glittering results.
“I didn’t expect this,” said the student from Kilburn. “People said the marking was going to be harder this year, but this is good.”
He has greatly enjoyed his studying at Oratory. “I’ve been here since the first year, and I’ve definitely liked it here. I’m going to do maths, economics, history at A level, and theology at AS,” he said.
“The religion definitely underpins everything here; we have chapel, and we go to the Brompton Oratory on religious days. It is important to the school.”
He was one of the few collecting his results who wasn’t planning an immediate onward trip to the festival at Reading. “No; I’m not going. I’m staying at home and just going out with my mates.”
Not so Edward Allaker, 16, who achieved all A*s and As and had his rucksack on his back as he picked up his results.
“They’re good results,” the Teddington student agreed, adding that he was eventually hoping to study a politics/philosophy/economics course in the fullness of time, having first enjoyed the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Reading.
“What’s good about London Oratory? The reputation of the school,” he said. “The teaching’s amazing; they’re great at getting good results.”
Fred Meimertzhagen, 16, of Dulwich, gained two As including physics, and a mix of Bs and Cs. He will be staying on at the sixth form to study maths, physics, design & technology and politics. Ultimately he’s hoping to do an apprenticeship in engineering.
He spent the summer on holiday in Bulgaria, and doing a string of jobs, including painting. Looking back over his GCSE study years he said: “The school has a reputation which it upholds through rules; it’s quite strict, but it’s not too bad, although some of the rules can be quite annoying!”