Boxfuls of brown envelopes on tabletops in school halls and common rooms meant one thing... A-level results time.
Schools across Hammersmith & Fulham were braced for an early-morning tide of students on Thursday 15 August, all eager to discover if they’d made their expected grades.
At William Morris Sixth Form in Hammersmith, principal Matthew Coulbeck was delighted with his students’ performance, with a 95% overall pass rate – up 3% on last year. As well as ‘fantastic’ results for BTECs – the work-related vocational courses – with 86% attaining distinction to merit grades.
“I want to applaud our students for their hard work; 100% of our students have achieved results this year, and it’s down to their efforts, and those of our teachers who have really gone the extra mile, doing extra drop-in sessions after the regular school hours,” he said.
Pupils in H&F have continued to impress – with 24% of pupils receiving marks of A* or A. Locally, 140 A* grades were awarded. The borough’s overall pass rate is 96% this year – one point behind the national average of 97%.
Cllr Larry Culhane, H&F Cabinet Member for Children & Education, congratulated all of the borough’s schools and said he hoped this year’s A-level and BTEC outcomes would enable teenagers to achieve their full potential.
“Every result is an individual triumph for students, who do our borough proud in so many ways, and reflects the hard work they have put in over two years, and the support they’ve received from teachers, school staff, family and friends,” he said.
“I’d like to congratulate all our students and wish them well – wherever their results take them, and whatever they go on to achieve in life, we're behind them all the way.”
Reaction at William Morris
Fulham student Nermeen Ali, 18, was slightly disappointed with her chemistry result… a mere A! Taken together with an A* in maths and an A in biology, she has been accepted to study pharmacy at UCL.
“My legs are shaking,” she admitted as she unstuck her envelope to see how she’d done. “I’ve been to UCL to look around, and I love it. I’m looking forward to it.”
Another happy student at the community sixth form in St Dunstan’s Road, which recent celebrated its silver jubilee, was Iman Khamisi, 19, who achieved an A in sociology, a B for her dissertation and a merit in applied science.
“Now I can go to Kent to do law,” she said, as she celebrated with her younger sister. “I’ve always wanted to study law… I love watching documentaries about injustice.”
Iman said she was looking forward to making new friends, although she said she had enjoyed the ‘nice crowd’ at William Morris.
For Nabeel Jathol, 18, it was more a sense of relief than elation, although he had every reason to celebrate his grades.
Tearing open his envelope with the kind of flourish usually seen at Oscars ceremonies, he produced the paper which confirmed he had A* in sociology, A in economics and A in philosophy.
“It means I can go to Queen Mary’s,” he said. “It’s my preferred choice of university, and I’ll do economics. It’s been really good here – the teachers have been very helpful. Now I’ll just spend the time before I start university reading about my course.”
It’s been an impressive 25 years for the sixth form college, during which its size has grown from 200 students to nearly 900.
“Teenagers sometimes get a bad press,” said Matthew, who began at William Morris as a teacher on the day it opened. “But they’re focused and they’re harder working than ever. They often don’t get the credit they deserve.”
He was pleased with a 5% rise in A-C grades to 60%, and with the BTEC outcomes, where changes to the exam structure make the overall 86% distinction rate even more impressive.
The college has introduced mixed BTEC courses, combining – say – media and IT, or business and media.
Most students come from the local area, but as the college is midway between Hammersmith and Barons Court tubes, a lot travel in from other parts of London.
“Some will be disappointed with their results, but at William Morris we take risks with students... and often that pays off,” said Matthew, who is not a fan of the increase in university unconditional offers, as it can mean students take their foot off the gas.
The backgrounds of the students in the sixth form has changed in the 25 years he has worked at William Morris, with more refugee students, more families from all over the world and students who do not have English as a first language.
Some of those receiving their results this year were affected by the Grenfell fire.
Read about your local school
- Hammersmith Academy
Students from Hammersmith Academy have surpassed last year’s high attainments at A-level. The 85 students achieved 135 A*-C grades, with 83% exceeding their target grades in at least one subject.
Calvin Hartley, with A*, A* and A in history, economics and politics, is going to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, to read history and politics. “I’m really thankful for all the support I have received from teachers and staff, not just in the sixth form, but since Year 7,” he said. “I’m excited to be heading to Cambridge and university life, and the academy has even helped me prepare for that!”
His colleague Bushra Elmoussati gained A*, A*, A in geography, English literature and politics, and has achieved a place at Mansfield College, Oxford to read geography. “Working hard pays off in the end, and I can’t wait to start this new chapter of my life,” she said.
Another student, Youssef Awadalla, gained A*, A, A in maths, chemistry and biology and will go on to study medicine at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry; part of Queen Mary University.
Another bound for Queen Mary’s is Ibtihal Ibrahim, whose A, A, B in chemistry, biology and maths guarantees a place studying chemical engineering. “I’m so happy,” said Ibtihal. “Ms Mark and Ms Harrowes have been so supportive through everything, and I’ve loved my time here.”
Rise Chambati-Woodhead, who joined the academy in the sixth form, was awarded A* in sociology and A in psychology, with a starred distinction in BTEC sport. He will study psychology at Bristol.
Chloe Gashi received A, A, B in geography, sociology and biology, as well as a grade A for her EPQ, and will read geography at UCL, while Lika Chachibaia achieves her dream of studying fashion marketing at the London College of Fashion.
The careers lead at the academy in Cathnor Road, Shepherds Bush, Sophie Harrowes, said it was wonderful to see the personalised one-to-one expert support yield dividends.
“Our students have really benefited from the mentor programme we have developed alongside St Paul’s Girls and St Paul’s Boys School,” she said. “It is great that we are establishing a reputation for getting students into the very best universities in the country.”
Headteacher Gary Kynaston said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the results. “To have students going to both Oxford and Cambridge, as well as Russell Group universities, reflects the level of dedication our students and staff put in,” he said, adding that the academy’s sixth form was now ranked the No1 state sixth form in the borough.
“Whether you are a student who started in Year 7 or you joined us in the first year of sixth form, you are capable of achieving your very best at Hammersmith Academy,” he said.
- Lady Margaret
With 82% of grades in the A*-C bracket, and 62% between A* and B, it’s been another bumper A-level year for the 175-strong sixth form at Lady Margaret School in Parsons Green.
Headteacher Elisabeth Stevenson described the results as ‘excellent’, propelling the Year 13 girls into university courses across the country.
Among the subjects students will study are: medicine at Leeds and Manchester, biology at Durham, theology at Bristol, Dentistry at King’s College London, Geography at Bristol, and French and Spanish at Edinburgh.
“We have students going to Oxford to study English, engineering, history and philosophy and theology,” said Ms Stevenson. “Thirteen girls will be starting art foundation courses. Overall 82% of grades were A*-C and 62% of grades attained were A*-B.”
Twelve girls at Lady Margaret (motto: ‘I have a goodly heritage’) attained at least three A or A* grades at A-level, described by Ms Stevenson as “a fantastic achievement”.
The five A* grades in English and four in Spanish underlined the importance of language at Lady Margaret, while in French, history, music and Spanish no student attained anything under a C grade.
“Congratulations to all of our Year 13 students who worked incredibly hard last year, many overcoming significant challenges outside their academic studies; these results are a testament to their commitment to their studies, and to the dedication of our staff in preparing the girls for the public examinations,” added Ms Stevenson.
- West London Free School
Three students from West London Free School have gained places at Oxbridge, delighting headteacher Clare Wagner.
With 30% of students at the King Street, Hammersmith, school achieving A*-A grades, and 76% gaining A*-C, more than 60% will be studying at Russell Group universities.
More than 90% of sixth-formers will be going on to university; a figure set to rise as several are applying for places through clearing. In total, 13% of students achieved exclusively A* and A grades.
“We had three Oxbridge successes,” said Clare. “We have one student going to Cambridge to study natural sciences at St John’s College, and have two students going up to Oxford, one to read classics and the other to read human sciences.”
Other students will be studying medicine at Bristol and Queen Mary’s, history, maths, engineering, politics, international relations and English at Bristol, astrophysics at St Andrew’s, theology at Edinburgh, law at Nottingham and Manchester, and economics at UCL.
“Many of our students have met their offers from their first or second choice of university and are going to study a wide range of subjects such as history of art, psychology, music and computer science,” she said. Art students at WLFS have also excelled, gaining places on art foundation courses at prestigious universities and colleges.
“I am extremely proud of these successes, which are undoubtedly due to the hard work of the students, the expertise and dedication of the staff here and the strong academic classical liberal ethos that is at the heart of the school,” said Clare.
“Several of our students are the first in their family to go to university; a fact of which we are particularly proud.”
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