Students at Peter Symonds College in Winchester have spoken of their high “excitement levels” as they received their exam results despite facing the disruptions of pandemic lockdowns.
John Diedrick, 18, from Winchester, Hampshire, has secured a place to study aerospace engineering at the University of Birmingham having gained A* grades in geography, maths and his Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) with an A in physics.
He said: “My excitement levels are really high, I am just relieved that I have got the grades and I have all the options open to me.
“I am very excited to move out of home and be independent and study a full course on things I am interested in.
“I was really worried that I might not get the grades because aerospace is really competitive, it’s just a relief that all the hard work I have done over the past two years has paid off.
“My motivation was low during lockdown, my productivity wasn’t great but when we came back I really got my head down and refocused.
“There were so many distractions in lockdown, online learning was a bit difficult and a lot of people struggled.”
Leonie Rowe, 18, from near Romsey, is going to study classics at Durham having achieved A* grades in Latin, classics and EPQ with an A in history.
She said mock exams had helped her prepare for the exams as her year had missed out on sitting exams for their GCSEs.
The teenager said: “It was hard to begin with as half was online and it was a struggle to make friends but this year got much better and the college has been really helpful, having people to talk to, they even brought in a mini zoo to help us deal with stress.”
On her results, she added: “I am really happy, it’s so nice to have it confirmed and know I am going somewhere in September, it’s a really nice feeling.”
Leyna McQuillin, 18, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, gained a double distinction star Btec in IT and a B in psychology A-level and will go on to study a degree in e-sports at Staffordshire University.
She said: “I am very happy with my results, I can’t complain as I have my place already confirmed, there were rumours they were marking harshly but I have done alright.”
Ms McQuillin said she struggled to explain her degree choice to her parents’ generation, and added: “I say it’s like the old Pac-Man tournaments where people would compete to set record scores but nowadays it’s with better arcade machines.”
She explained it could lead to a range of career options, including running events, broadcasting and creating competitive teams.
She added: “My excitement levels are through the roof.”
Nikita Howard, 18, from Whitchurch, achieved a distinction in the new T-level of childcare and education.
She said: “It was good experience, it was a half placement so I learned what it would be like in the classroom.”
Skye Paterson, 18, from Winchester, who achieved the same result on the same course and will go on to study education studies and early childhood at Winchester, said: “I really liked it because we did placement and work in the classroom and my teachers were really supportive.”
The pass rate for A-levels at Peter Symonds College this year was 99%, with 40% of the grades awarded being at A* or A.
The proportion of A*, A and B was 67%.
Principal Sara Russell said: “This year group has had an educational experience like no other – the first to have its GCSE exams cancelled, and the first to be asked to sit full A-level examinations, and all sorts of Covid arrangements to navigate in between.
“Against a national drop in A-level performance, we are proud that we have bucked this trend and our students’ grades are as high as last year: indeed, the proportion of A* grades has actually increased, with almost 1,000 securing this top grade.”