Delighted GCSE students across H&F celebrated their success this week, despite a year that students and teachers hope to never see the like of again.
As GCSE results day approached, Year 11 students braced themselves for uncertainty similar to that A-level students had suffered the week before.
But this was averted after a late government U-turn meant students would get results based on the school centre-assessed grades, not the now-ditched government algorithm.
“We’re so proud of students and staff in H&F who have endured not only a year of upheaval due to the COVID-19 crisis, but a circus of indecision from the government,” said Cllr Larry Culhane, H&F Cabinet Member for Children and Education.
“After many A-level students were left confused and disappointed during the chaos of last week, we’re pleased the government finally saw sense and let students get the grades from the teachers and schools who know them best.
“It’s been heartening to hear so many success stories from right across the borough, our schools add so much to our young peoples’ lives and we thank our teachers and school staff for the dedication they bring every day, particularly over the past six months.”
Success despite uncertainty
In an unprecedented year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, GCSE exams were cancelled and two days before results day, it was decided students would be awarded grades based on what their teachers had predicted they would achieve.
Early figures show a strong upward trend across the borough. As it stands with this year’s results 89 per cent of pupils in H&F’s schools have achieved grades 9-4 in English and maths.
Headteachers have unanimously praised the resolve of their students who have coped not only with the usual exam stresses but the additional uncertainties the pandemic has brought to their day to day lives.
“After a year in which our students’ education was disrupted by the pandemic, this is a time of celebration, I would also like to say how proud I am of our teachers and staff who have responded to the changing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic with commitment and resilience,” said Paul Bhatia, Principal at the Ark Burlington Danes Academy.
“I am delighted in the achievements of our Year 11s. Their excellent results reflect their hard work this year.”
Leon Wilson, Executive Principal of The Hurlingham Academy, had similar praise to share.
“These Year 11s have been a fantastic group of young people to teach – over the past five years, not only have they shown dedication to their academic studies, but they have also remained positive and active members of our school community,” he said.
“Despite the challenges and uncertainties of recent months, I hope they will each take great pride in what they have achieved, knowing that they can take their next steps in further education with confidence.
“We look forward to seeing what they achieve at Sixth Form and beyond.”
A good decision
The sentiment from H&F’s students was best summarised by Hammersmith Academy student Milcah Tareke, who was one its top performers after being awarded five grade 9s, three grade 8s and a grade 5.
“GCSEs have been a strange experience for all of us this year, with us not taking the exams, only hoping we had done well enough in previous assessments to get the grades we wanted,” she said.
“I think lots of people, myself included, had some regret in not working that little bit harder during mocks to make sure they got the grades they wanted, but nobody could have foreseen the GCSE examinations being cancelled.
“I feel it was a good decision to base grades entirely on the teacher assessment instead, as, ultimately, the teachers are the best informed on their own students, not the government or Ofqual.”
Read more about how schools in H&F fared on GCSE results day 2020
- Ark Burlington Danes Academy
Students from local school Ark Burlington Danes Academy in White City are celebrating GCSE grade success in what has been a unique academic year.
“I am delighted in the achievements of our Year 11s. Their excellent results reflect their hard work this year and confirm the upward trajectory of our school,” said Paul Bhatia, Ark Burlington Danes Academy’s principal.
“These results will empower our students in the next step of their educational journey, and I am delighted that so many have chosen to stay in at Burlington Danes Sixth Form - we will have record numbers this year.
“After a year in which our students’ education was disrupted by the pandemic, this is a time of celebration, I would also like to say how proud I am of our teachers and staff who have responded to the changing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic with commitment and resilience.”
Among Ark Burlington Danes Academy’s strongest performers in this year’s GCSEs were 16-year-old Jamie Levinson, who has achieved a hugely impressive and well deserved 11 grade 9s and one grade 8.
Alongside his studies, Jamie has been an incredibly active member of Burlington Danes, having been a key member of the rugby team, and even taking part in a national Eton 5s tournament.
“Every teacher I’ve had has been so supportive and encouraging and has pushed me to get that extra bit of knowledge,” said Jamie.
Ghufran Mohamed, 16, achieved seven grade 9s and four grade 8s.
She will be continuing her studies with A Levels in biology, chemistry, maths and further maths at Latymer Upper School, having received a full scholarship.
She has made the most of her time at Burlington Danes, having been part of the rowing team, and volunteering to support with sports days and open evenings.
- Fulham Cross Academy
Staff at Fulham Cross Academy said they were proud to announce excellent grades from students, despite the difficult and chaotic circumstances.
Among the notable high achievers, were Kevin Wambui, Mahir Noor, and head boy Patrick Dionisio.
Kevin achieved a clean sweep of 10 grade 9s, Mahir received four grade 9s, five grade 8s and a grade 7, while Patrick received one grade 9, five grade 8s and three grade 7s and is staying on at the sixth form to further his studies.
In between studies Patrick’s head boy duties involved hosting various events we held over the year and supporting both staff and students at competitions and events.
“I feel ecstatic. I wasn’t expecting to get the grades I was going to get, especially due to COVID-19,” said Patrick.
“If I had to thank one teacher, it would be Ms Brooks – she has kept us all going and given us the motivation to get through all of this and achieve these great results.”
Other notable successes include Nasir Ali who achieved three grade 9s, four grade 8s and two grade 7s and Seetharamdoo Kelvin who achieved three grade 9s, one grade 8, three grade 7s and three grade 6s.
“When the school had to close we were devastated that our students would be denied the opportunity to show their talents, said Executive Principal, Sally Brooks.
“Being able to share in their successes today is just a perfect way to praise all our boys and give them the recognition they all thoroughly deserve.
“Having supported students on every step of their journey we are very proud of how they have coped with this very challenging situation and would like to wish all of them well.
“We are looking forward to welcoming many of them back in September as they join our Trust Sixth Form.”
Other students who have arrived at the school who faced challenges in terms of language of disabilities have all exceeding all expectations – which is a reflection of all the staff and students’ hard work over the years.
In particular, Alen Vladimirov, who arrived at the school with very little English and has walked away today with four grade 8s, four grade 5s and a grade 4.
- Fulham Cross Girls’ School
Staff and students at Fulham Cross Girls’ School are delighted with their outcomes on GCSE results day, in a year like no other.
Year 11 students at the school in Munster Road have achieved exceptional grades in line with previous cohorts.
Notable achievements include joint head girls, Raya Al Kubaisi and Fatimah M. Raya achieved 10 grade 9s and will take up her place at Latymer Upper.
Fatimah, who had an extremely challenging year 10 and Year 11, missing huge swathes of school due to ongoing cancer treatment, yet still managed to achieve an astonishing 5 grade 7s and 3 grade 8s.
She has received an offer from Putney High, which took into account her illness and will take her place there in September.
Both girls also served the school and the students admirably as Head Girls, taking on duties and responsibilities and fitting them around their studies with ease.
Sofia Berga achieved a great set of paired results including 2 grade 5s 2 grade 6s 2 grade 7s and 2 grade 8s, despite the fact that she only arrived 2 years ago from Latvia, Sofia has applied herself with diligence and should be incredibly proud of such exceptional results in a foreign language.
Other students who arrived at Fulham Cross with challenges in terms of language or disabilities have also achieved well beyond expectations reflecting the exceptional teaching and dedication of the staff.
“As usual, I am extremely proud of all the students, but this really has been an extremely challenging year for students and staff alike,” said Headteacher, Denise Fox.
“Our staff have worked extremely hard to make sure that the grades awarded were fair and reflective of the students’ abilities.
“I am delighted that the girls can start to put this stresses of this year behind them and start to look forward to beginning their respective sixth form studies.”
- Hammersmith Academy
Across in Shepherds Bush, GCSE students at Hammersmith Academy celebrated success despite uncertainty brought by COVID-19 and a late government U-turn on awarding grades.
Batoul Gheleb was the Academy’s highest achiever, scoring a spectacular nine grade 9s.
“It was stressful leading up to today’s GCSE results, including all the confusion with how we were going to be awarded our grades,” said Batoul.
“Overall, I'm delighted with my results this year, which were better than I was anticipating. I'm grateful for the support I received from the Academy, from weekly emails assessing our progress, to detailed tasks to assist our learning.”
Batoul will continue at Hammersmith Academy’s Sixth Form.
Headteacher, Gary Kynaston, said “Our CGSE cohort has achieved an impressive set of results, which exceeds the national average. This is very much in line with our results trend over the last five years.
“It has been a tumultuous year for our GCSE students, who have missed a significant part of the academic year, including their final examinations.
“They have been nervously waiting for the results, made all the more challenging with the government’s last-minute changes to the way results are awarded, earlier in the week.”
“After seeing what A-Level students went through I feel we are lucky,” said a relieved Lilith Nelson, after securing an impressive seven grade 9s and two grade 8s.
“I was nervous about my grades, but I knew based on my mocks that I would be ok because I’ve always worked hard for them and took them seriously.
“Thank you to all the teachers who supported us, they really helped me and I am really looking forward to studying the subjects I really enjoy.”
“Students should be proud of their achievements, and it is an achievement regardless of whether exams have been sat, as grades have been calculated on work that has been accomplished and mock exams over the course of two years,” added Mr Kynaston.
“Thank you to the parents and staff who have worked closely together to guide and support our Year 11 students through the uncertain time we find ourselves in. Their efforts place the students in a positive position to start the new academic year.”
The majority of the Year 11 students will now remain to study in the Academy’s Sixth Form.
- Phoenix Academy
Phoenix Academy has used this year’s positive GCSE results to announce that it is re-establishing a sixth form at the school.
Principal Tony MacDowall, who said he was proud of the performance of all the academy’s students in such unprecedented times, said: “We are delighted to be relaunching Phoenix Academy sixth form, with students who join benefiting from all the opportunities that come from being part of a very small and successful learning community.”
In results terms, Year 11 achieved 55 per cent of Grade 5 or above in English Lit, 52 per cent in English Language, 38 per cent in Maths and 34 per cent in combined English and Maths, with an overall attainment 8 score of 45.4.
Kai Salcedo achieved grade 9s in every subject, and will now go on to study A-levels in physics, maths, further maths and computer science. “I’m extremely proud of the grades I’ve achieved,” he said.
“Opening the envelope was nerve-racking, but seeing the grades on the paper made me speechless! I’d like to thank the staff for their support.”
Classmate Aryan Mehra was also pleased with four grade 8s and three grade 7s, and will also do A-level physics, maths, further maths and computer science. “I feel very happy about the grades, and I’d like to thank Ms Issa and Mr Carty for their amazing lessons, and Mr MacDowall for making the school a great place to study.”
Phoenix in White City, which became part of Future Academies four years ago, was given a ‘good’ Ofsted rating in the most recent inspection in 2019.
- Sacred Heart High School
There were broad smiles at Sacred Heart High School in Hammersmith, where 96 per cent of all GCSE passes were grade 5 or above.
Five of the Year 11 students achieved 10 passes at grade 9, while seven students at the Hammersmith Road school attained 10 passes at 8 or 9.
Headteacher Marian Doyle praised the students for their hard work, and the teachers for their dedication.
“After the fiasco over A-level results, I am delighted that centre assessed grades were awarded,” she said. “Sacred Heart has yet again excelled in delivering an excellent set of results for all pupils.
“This year we have been awarded global status as a high performing school after a two-year programme of reviewing our approaches to teaching and learning.
“As a school we no longer set a ceiling on learning, and demonstrate openly that all pupils can achieve highly. This approach is clearly working.”
In this year’s results, 15 per cent of all GCSE grades were 9, and 18 per cent were 8 plus, with many students opting to stay on into a sixth form which Ofsted has graded ‘outstanding’.
- Westside School
Westside School in Hammersmith – the first alternative provision school to be judged ‘outstanding’ under the new Ofsted framework – has seen 60 per cent of its pupils achieve grade 4 or higher in both English and maths.
Headteacher Carol-Anne Alcock said she was delighted with the outcomes for her hard-working students. “I’m very pleased that every pupil has achieved the grades they need to go on to further education and training,” she said.
“While our pupils were unable to sit their exams this summer, these grades are a true reflection of how hard they have worked and of how determined they have been to succeed. All our pupils have risen magnificently to the challenges of the last few months and have been a credit to themselves and our school community.”
With the cancellation of GCSE exams as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, pupils were awarded grades based on teacher predictions, except in cases where the model created by Ofqual awarded a higher grade.
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