Students at West Nottinghamshire College have been praised for achieving their qualifications in “this most extraordinary of years” after collecting their eagerly-anticipated A-level results today (Thursday 13 August 2020).
Speaking on A-level results day, principal and chief executive Andrew Cropley paid tribute to the ‘class of 2020’ for securing the grades to progress to university, an apprenticeship or employment despite their studies being disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw them complete their courses remotely through online learning and grades awarded by tutor assessment and awarding body moderation.
The college has announced an overall pass rate of 99.4% – which is 1.2% above this year’s national overall pass rate of 98.2% and a 0.6% increase on the college’s results last year.
Principal and chief executive Andrew Cropley said: “In this most extraordinary of years, I’m very pleased that our A-level results have improved and that the majority of students have achieved the outcomes they deserve. Congratulations to all our students who have received their results today. I’m thrilled that so many of them have done extremely well and will be taking up a place at their university-of-choice next month, or embarking on their chosen career from a position of success.
“Whilst the means by which results were derived were very unusual, students, their friends and families who have supported them, and their teachers, should be no less proud of their achievements.
“Although we are delighted that the number of students receiving high grades has significantly improved, we are disappointed that nearly one-third of the grades that we very carefully calculated have been lowered by the awarding bodies and we are urgently taking steps to do what we can to ensure those affected receive the results that they merit.
“Nonetheless, I’m sure all of our students are excited about progressing in their education and careers and I’d like to thank our teachers and support staff who have prepared them very effectively and we look forward to hearing about our students’ future journeys.
“I also commend all our students who have achieved really well in their technical and professional courses or in their apprenticeships. Many of those will also be going off to study on a higher education course or a degree apprenticeship.”
Students collecting their results outlined their next steps after college, and reflected on their experience of online learning throughout lockdown and how grades have been awarded this year.
Matthew Singlehurst, 18, from Mansfield, studied four A-level subjects, gaining A* grades in maths and biology, and As in chemistry and physics.
He said: “I feel great. I did really well, so I’m very pleased. I’ve worked really hard to get these grades.
“I revised most days and always did my home-work. I found learning online throughout lockdown much more difficult, especially staying motivated, with the distractions that come from being at home, but I made sure I knuckled down and got on with it.
“I feel all the hard work has paid off. With these grades I’m going to the University of Nottingham to study physics. I don’t have a particular career in mind at the minute; I’m just going to see what I enjoy at university and take it from there.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at West Notts – I found it better than if I’d gone to sixth-form. There’s more freedom, more choice, and my teachers have been good.
“I’m looking forward to telling my family how I’ve done in my results.”
Also studying four subjects was Patryk Swidnik from Shirebrook.
The 18-year-old said: “I was so nervous this morning and now I’m overwhelmed! I got A* in maths, A in physics and B grades in chemistry and biology. I even said to myself earlier that if I got an A*, A and two Bs I’d be a happy man – and that’s what I’ve got
“I want to re-sit chemistry and biology because I need A grades to study medicine at the University of York but I’m okay with that as I’m having a gap year anyway. I’m going to keep working and saving-up money and will do some extra studying as well, such as first aid and other healthcare-related courses. I want to become a consultant surgeon specialising in trauma, either in the Army or in a hospital.
“What really made me decide that medicine was the career for me was last year, on my way home from a night out, my friend and I saw a road traffic collision and we attended the scene and helped the victim until the ambulance arrived. It was a very harrowing situation but I loved stepping-in. “And even better, hearing from her some days later that she’d left from hospital and gone home to her two little girls – that was so very rewarding.”
Molly-May Burchell, 18, from Boughton, collected her results accompanied by her mum, for moral support – and was delighted to gain A grades in history, law and sociology.
She said: “I feel very happy and really glad I did the hard work.
“I was very worried about what grades I’d get. I kept reading newspaper articles saying grades could be lowered this year, which was quite stressful, so I’m very happy with what I’ve got.
“It means I can go to the University of Nottingham, which was my first-choice, to study history. Eventually I’d like to go into teaching, preferably as a university lecturer, possibly teaching abroad.
“Distance-learning was fun – I just sat in my bedroom doing college work! I found it easier than learning at college, because I was sat by myself studying, which worked well for me.”
Proud mum Jess Burchell said: “I’m over the moon for her – she’s worked really hard. With Molly-May being autistic, she’s coped really well with all the changes brought about by lockdown. I’m immensely proud. She absolutely deserves this.”
Nikita Joharchi, 20, from Mansfield also received the grades to get into her first-choice university.
She said: “I’ve just discovered I have A grades in all my subjects – film studies, English literature and psychology.
“I was hoping to have done a little bit better in English as I worked really hard in that subject, but it’s enough to get into university – I’m happy with that. So next I’ll be going to the University of York and studying English literature.
“During lockdown it gave me more time to concentrate on university reading. The University of York gave us about 16 books to read before the start of term and I got through most of them.
“After the initial degree I’d like to study a Masters in Viking studies, or even English, at York. I chose York because of the heavy influence of classical literature and old Norse history – it’s something I’ve been interested in since being a child. I’d like to go into research in the future.
“I think I’ll be celebrating with a pizza tonight!”
Charlotte Dallman, 17, from Mansfield, was another student who scored straights As – in biology, chemistry and psychology.
She said: “I’m happy about it but not as happy as I could’ve been. I feel that in chemistry and psychology I could’ve done better, in terms of the way that grades have been awarded.
“I’m a bit of a perfectionist and do like to be able to say that I’ve tried my best and I don’t feel that three As was the best I could’ve achieved. I’ve already requested an appeal for my psychology grade.
“But I’m really happy that I’ve got into my first-choice university, the University of Lincoln, to study pharmacy. I want to be a hospital pharmacist after my studies. I like hospital settings and the atmosphere, and being around the patients.
“West Notts has been really good. All the teachers have been very helpful and supportive. You can’t ask for any more than that.
“Online learning was difficult but the teachers were always available if you needed to ask any questions.”
Because of the way that grades have been determined this year, Charlotte said she was even more nervous opening her results envelope than she ordinarily would have been.
“When you sit an exam, you know whether it’s gone well or not. But this time we were completely in the dark,” she said.
“But I’m relieved I’ve got these grades and am looking forward to university. This has solidified what I’m doing next and where I’ll be going.”
Also achieving A grades in all her subjects was Alex Wilkes, from Shirebrook.
Eighteen-year-old Alex said: “I didn’t get my predicted A* grade for maths, but that’s fine as I’m still going to study pharmacy at the University of Nottingham.”
Describing her experience of online learning, she said: “It was a bit tricky sometimes during lockdown; it’s harder for the teacher to explain practical things that we’d normally do in the science labs, but it did work well. It was great to be able to keep in touch with classmates in this way.
“I made sure I stuck to a routine to stay positive. I’d set my alarm, get all my books out and just kept going during the new routine. I’ve been looking ahead at what sort of modules I’ll be studying at university as well.
“I think I’ll have a little celebration with friends over the weekend.”
Charlie Young, 23, from Clipstone, “couldn’t wait” to tell her mum how she’d done after achieving an A grade in English language and B grades in psychology and law.
She said: “This is pretty much what I need to get into the University of Sheffield to study journalism. I’m studying a bit later in life as I have a four-year-old daughter. Just because you may decide to study when you’re a bit older, it shouldn’t stop you doing what you really want to do.
“Sheffield is my first choice and I can’t wait.
“I didn’t find distance learning too difficult, although it was a challenge sometimes with having my little girl at home and I’ve been quite busy, too, with doing some reading in preparation for university.
“I also want to do a Masters and a PhD in educational journalism in the future, so I’m going to be busy!”
Amongst those receiving their vocational results was Charan Mandeir, 18, from Ravenshead, who studied the BTEC National Extended Diploma in Applied Science.
He said: “I got a triple-distinction, which is what I needed to get into university. I’ll be going to the University of Leeds to study audiology because I have a very specific career goal – to become an audiologist.
“It felt great to see these grades, although I was predicted to get a higher grade in one of my exams. I sat three out of four exams and for most of my units I got merits and distinctions. However, on the last exam – which we couldn’t sit – I was expecting at least a merit but was awarded a pass, so I think that will probably be contested. I don’t really need to though, because I’ve already got the grades I need for university but it’s worth trying.
“Because it was only one exam that I didn’t have to sit, I’d already calculated my grades and pretty much knew what I was going to get, so I was quite confident I’d get into university.
“I’m now off to work an eight-hour shift as I save-up for uni, so I’ll celebrate later today.
“I’m excited about what the future holds. After university, I may do a Masters degree or go straight into work.”
Students were unable to sit exams this year due to the pandemic and have instead received a ‘centre assessment grade’ for each subject. These are calculated grades that tutors felt they were most likely to achieve had exams gone ahead, taking into account a range of evidence including mock exam results.
Exam boards put all calculated grades through a process of ‘standardisation’ using a model developed with independent qualifications regulator Ofqual to try and make sure grades were fair between schools and colleges.
Any student that received a result lower than their mock exam has the right to appeal via their school or college. They can also choose to take their exams in the autumn.
West Nottinghamshire College offers one of the largest choices of A-levels under one roof in Mansfield. It also offers a wide range of vocational qualifications along with higher national certificates (HNCs) and higher national diplomas (HNDs).
Anybody interested in studying at the college should call 0808 100 3626.