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Students celebrate at Nottingham Girls' High School

Flying high

Independent schools celebrate outstanding results as university offers soar, despite national drop in top grades

Posted by Stephanie Broad | August 19, 2016 | People, policy, politics

Yesterday, young people across the UK received their A-level results and looked towards the next stage of their lives.

This year’s UCAS figures show the highest-ever number of students - 424,000 - have been accepted to UK universities and colleges so far – up three per cent on A-level results day in 2015. 

Over 27,400 more young women than men from the UK have already been placed at university, but this gap is slightly narrower than in 2015 with three per cent more men placed in 2016 and two per cent more women.

Independent schools up and down the country observed a record-breaking year, with many ‘firsts’ to celebrate. 

Nottingham Girls’ High School is receiving its first set of A-level results under new head Julie Keller, where students have achieved a 100% pass rate across the board. The school has also performed outstandingly in mathematics, with a 100% pass rate at A*-C. In a traditionally male-dominated subject, the school is proud of its success in STEM subjects.

These results come at the end of the school’s 140th anniversary year – a year of celebrating the history of girls’ education in times of change and challenge. Julie Keller said: “These results are a testament to the success of a girls-only education in which each girl has every opportunity to succeed and choose whatever subjects she likes, and find the path that’s right for her to make her way in the world.” 

Nottingham Girls' High School students

Independent college, Abbey College Manchester, is marking five years of continuous improvement as it records 87.8% of students achieving A*-C grades, up from 84% in 2015. Principal, Liz Elam, commented: “We are absolutely thrilled with the results this year. Once again our students have excelled and shown their high level of intelligence. We will have some huge success stories in the years to come from these graduates.” 

Portland Place School, a co-educational school in the heart of Westminster, is also recording its best-ever year, with 89% A*-C grades compared to 74% in 2015. 

Another Westminster based institution, DLD College London, celebrated its 84% A*-C results in its brand new building. The college relocated in September 2015 to a 15-floor boarding house with exceptional facilities and full catering services.  

Principal, Rachel Borland, commented: “This is a very proud and exciting day for us at DLD College London. The move clearly did not affect any students and instead helped them to achieve great results. The new college building was constructed to benefit the students as much as possible and it has proven effMayfiective.”

Mayfield School is celebrating a 100% pass rate, with particular success in arts and sciences. From a large cohort, 75% achieved A*/A in bhemistry for a successive year, and over two thirds of biologists achieved the same accolade with 100% being awarded A*-B. The Cambridge Pre-U in Art and Design candidates built on the impressive success of last year when over 80% of candidates achieved a Distinction, which is the top grading.

Mayfield girls celebrate

Top grades at Burgess Hill Girls have improved by a huge 12% this year, as over 80% of students achieved A*-A grades. In Modern Foreign Languages, a subject area in decline nationally, 88% of girls received A* and A grades. St Helen’s School in Middlesex also saw success in MFL, with 71% achieving A*-A.

With 505 grades at A* or A and 99.7% achieving A*-C, Brighton College pupils are celebrating another stellar year of A-level results. This is the second best set of results in the College's history, only marginally behind last year when Brighton was placed top in England in The Sunday Times' A-level table. 

Headmaster, Richard Cairns, said: "As ever, this reflects brilliantly on the commitment and hard work of our pupils, the inspirational teaching of our Common Room and the huge efforts made by all members of staff in helping to support those individuals who, in other schools, might have fallen by the wayside.” 

Happy Brighton College students

The St Mary’s School, Cambridge community has collectively spent the 2015/2016 academic year focusing on ’Embracing Diversity’ – one of the 12 characteristics of a Mary Ward School. On A-level results day 2016, the school was delighted to celebrate its academic diversity as sixth form students at the school saw excellent results across a broad range of subjects. Half of all students’ results  were awarded at A*-A grade and 75% at A* - B grade, across 25 subjects. 

At Wellington School, pupils have exceeded expectations with even more A* grades than last year’s cohort. Five students are also looking forward to taking up Oxbridge university places. 

Headmaster, Henry Price commented: “Looking at our statistics as a whole, I am very pleased with the increase in A* grades to 17% and the fact that almost 40% of grades were A*-A. Almost 20% of students achieved 3 or more A/A* grades and more than a quarter of students achieved at least 1 A* grade.” 

Price also recognised the impact that the government’s A-level reform is having on results nationally. Wellington pupils in the lower sixth are celebrating a very promising set of AS results, with an impressive 46% of results awarded at the top A grade.

He continued: “Although we must take this statistic in the context of fewer papers being sat, due to the ongoing reforms to the A-level system, this is nevertheless an excellent set of results and bodes very well for success at A2 in 2017.” 

Wellington School students

At Brentwood School, 70% of students got into their first choice university, with some moving overseas to study. This success follows on from their best-ever results for the International Baccalaureate (IB), with an average of 37 points.

Headmaster, Ian Davies, said: “These are a very impressive set of grades achieved by our hard working students. Once again, 70% of them got into their first choice university and I wish them all the very best with their continued studies. The fact that we are able to say that an average student at Brentwood is most likely to gain the equivalent of AAA on leaving our sixth form whether enrolled on the A-level or IB Diploma Programme, is a fantastic achievement for the school and a huge tribute to all of our students and staff, both past and present.”

A-level student Zoe Jinadu believes transferring to an independent girls’ school helped her achieve her goal of studying at Oxford.  

Zoe moved from a state school to Redland High School for girls in Bristol to study A-levels. She made the most of the opportunity to explore her interests in a number of subjects, taking Chemistry, Mathematics and English Literature as well as AS-levels in Creative Writing and Music. She was rewarded with three A*s, two As and a C.  

Zoe also undertook an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) on the impact that the Cultural Revolution in China had upon women. She has now been accepted to read Chinese at Oxford.

She said: “I’m just so happy. I never would have been able to do this without the community here at Redland High. I wouldn’t have thought that it was achievable but Redland High made me believe it was.” 

A student at Truro School has stunned teachers by achieving six A* grades, gaining her a place to study Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the world’s number one-ranked university. 

Phoebe Piercy, the school’s Head Girl, studied Chemistry, Geology, Maths, Further Maths, Physics and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). After opening her results, Phoebe said: “It makes all the hard work worthwhile, having put so much time into revision. The teachers have put time aside whenever I needed extra revision sessions, they have been so supportive it’s been amazing.”

Phoebe Piercy

Student Caroline Rosenzweig from The Mount School in York has also gained a place at MIT, having received an unconditional offer to study Mechanical Engineering.

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