Studying through pandemic ‘a nightmare’, says pupil collecting A-level results

·3 min read

A teenager who is preparing to start a BBC apprenticeship said studying through the Covid-19 pandemic was a “nightmare”.

As he collected his A-level results at Norwich School, James Livesey, 18, said: “I feel very relieved. It’s a big weight off my shoulders.”

The pupil, of Norwich, achieved an A* in computer science and As in physics and maths.

He said of studying during the pandemic: “It’s been a nightmare.

“Honestly, 2020 was just such a different kind of learning environment and everything and it did throw a spanner in the works.”

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Head of school Millie Clark collects her A-level results at Norwich School (Joe Giddens/PA)

Grades in 2020 and 2021 were based on teachers’ assessments, with this year marking a return to public exams.

“It’s a bit of a weird difference considering I’d never really done exams before in such an official capacity, but I think I was fine with it in the end,” said Mr Livesey.

“As the results show, I’m really glad.”

He said his grades were enough for his first choice university, Southampton, but he then got an offer for a degree apprenticeship at the BBC doing software engineering on websites and other platforms.

“I’m going to go for that because it’s such a sought-after opportunity so that’s my main choice,” he said.

“I’m really excited for it.”

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Alice Shaw, left, and Amelia Cropley celebrate with their A-level results at Norwich School (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mia Bartram, 18, from near King’s Lynn, said she was “very happy” to achieve three A* grades in 3D design, photography, and art, craft and design.

“All the hard work’s paid off, so that’s really great,” she said, adding that she plans to study sustainable product design at Falmouth University.

On studying over the last two years, she said: “It was difficult in periods like when we had lockdown and stuff, especially as all the subjects I take are in the workshop and are very hands-on-based, so that was difficult from home.

“But the school have combatted it really well. There’s always been ways round it.”

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Anna Austin, centre right, reacts when reading her A-level results at Norwich School (Joe Giddens/PA)

Millie Clark, 18, achieved two A* grades in history and music and an A in French and plans to study music at Cambridge University.

“I’m really happy, I can’t quite believe it,” the head of school said.

She said coronavirus restrictions had made things “difficult with music extracurricular stuff, not being able to play together as year groups”, adding: “It’s been difficult but it’s been worth it.”

She said sitting the exams, after two years of teacher-assessed grades, “felt like we were going in kind of knowing nothing”.

She added: “We hadn’t even done GCSEs beforehand, so that was really scary.

“But it was actually much easier than I thought it would be.

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Amelie Bredican, left, and Mia Bartram react after reading their A-level results at Norwich School (Joe Giddens/PA)

“The adrenalin kind of kicked in, and that was good.”

Flynn Robbins, 18, of Thorpe St Andrew, achieved A-grades in chemistry and maths and an A* in physics. He plans to study for a masters degree in aerospace engineering at Sheffield University.

“My ultimate goal is to join an F1 team as an aerodynamicist working in that department designing the aerodynamics of an F1 car, that’s what I want to do,” he said.

He said he is “very, very excited”, adding: “The past few days was not much sleep, just stressing over this.

“I’ve just been really worried that I somehow messed up, even though I think I knew in my head that I got enough, but the doubts creep in.”

Vani Kumar, 18, of Costessey in Norwich, who achieved four A*s in maths, economics, Spanish and 2D design, said: “Throughout the two years it was tough as the teaching was slightly different, but we were lucky that every department had support.”