BEATING THE CHALLENGE TO EARN SUPERB GCSES
‘Resilient’ pupils celebrate great grades across North Wales despite a year and a half of schooling disrupted by pandemic
NEARLY a third of all GCSE grades awarded in Wales this year were A*s and As as schools across the country celebrated their pupils’ success in light of the “most challenging year”.
29% of all entries across the country achieved one of the top two grades as pupils were praised for their “resilience” over the past two years, which have been severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Qualifications Wales said overall GCSE results in Wales are higher at grade A and above compared to the last two years (25.5% in 2020 and 18.4% in 2019).
Altogether, 98.5% of entries resulted in a pass between grades A*-G. 73.6% achieved at least a C (compared with 73.8% in 2020 and 62.8% in 2019).
GCSE and BTEC results were released at 8.30am on Thursday.
This year’s assessment and qualification process has been different to previous years as examinations for summer 2021 were cancelled in response to the pandemic.
A new system was designed and delivered by schools and colleges, which saw them draw together a range of assessment evidence on which to determine a pupil’s grade.
“The grades GCSE learners are receiving today have relied on the professional judgement of teachers and lecturers. Schools and colleges have been at the heart of the approach,” said Qualifications Wales Chief Executive Philip Blaker.
“We would like to thank them for their dedication and hard work in adapting swiftly to the flexible arrangements put in place so that grades are awarded.
“Exams were cancelled due to the pandemic and schools and colleges have been in the best position to make the right decisions for their learners as they understand the local challenges faced.
“Learners can be confident that the qualifications awarded in Wales this year carry the same value as qualifications awarded in any other year.”
Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, who visited Ysgol Glan Clwyd on the morning of results day, said: “Our priority this year has been to put a system in place so that learners receive grades based on evidence of their work and enables them to progress to the next stage of their education, training or work with confidence. My message to this year’s GCSE students is a huge ‘well done’.
“You’ve had everything thrown at you over the last 18 months – periods in lockdown, time away from your friends and families, and times where you’ve missed out on many of the social activities you should be enjoying. You’ve shown tremendous resilience to overcome all of these challenges. I also want to congratulate learners on their vocational qualification results.
“Skills in priority sectors are vitally important in meeting the range of needs of the Welsh economy, now more than ever, and your hard-earned qualifications will put you in good stead for the future. It’s also been a remarkable achievement by all the school and college staff who’ve worked so hard to enable qualifications this year.
“It’s been an almighty task to put measures in place so that learners could get their results, like any other year. You should be very proud of the work you have done to help our learners progress.”
Results across Wales were expected to be higher this year due to the change in how grades were given out, however the priority was said to be avoiding the huge problems faced last year when an algorithm was used.
The algorithm ended up downgrading thousands of results and sparked protests across the country.
Head teachers have spoken of the difficulties pupils have had to overcome as they achieved their success this year.
Adam Rhys Williams, head at Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi in Holyhead, said: “On behalf of all the staff, I would like to congratulate our pupils in year 11 for having performed extremely well under difficult circumstances this year. Over 80 assessments were carried out in different subjects when they returned after the national lockdown. During a period of tight deadlines and intense teaching periods, they proved themselves well and some pupils achieved extremely high standards.”
“We would like to recognise the exceptional performance of the following pupils: Elin Parry, achieved 12 A*-A; Jessica Griffiths 12 A*-A; Jacquamo Abbott-Jones 11 A*-A; Eleri Owen 11 A*-A, Allie Cochran 11 A*- A; Hannah Corey 10 A8-A; Finlay Chant 10 A*-A; and Craig Bell 10 A*-A.”
Emyr Williams, head at Ysgol David Hughes in Menai Bridge, said: “More than ever we are full of pride for all of our students who have shown huge levels of resilience and positivity in what has been a very challenging year for us all.
“Each and every one of our students should be proud of their achievements, efforts and successes and deserve all of our praise.
“Thanks must also go to our dedicated and passionate staff who have worked tirelessly supporting our students through these difficult times, and to our parents and community for their support and encouragement.”
There were some excellent individual successes including: Joseff Morgan 13A*, Owain Sion 13A*, Nishchal Prabhakar12A*, Erin Haf Davies12A* + 1A, Destiny Snow 12A* + 1A, Deio Roberts11A* + 1A + 1B, Non Erin Thomas10A* + 3A, Ethan Burns10A*+ 2A + 1B, Joanna Burt10A* + 3B, Siwnamis Efans9A* + 4A, Madeline Taylor9A* + 4A, Imogen Evans9A* + 4A
Paul Matthews-Jones, head at Ysgol Bodedern in Bodedern, said: “Today is a day of celebration for all year 11 pupils, not only a celebration of fantastic and richly deserved results, but it is an equal celebration of their resilience and character.
“Pupils have never faced greater challenges.
“During their GCSE courses they have conquered two lockdowns, numerous self isolations, blended learning, only to return to school to face daily assessments.
“I have looked on in sheer admiration over the past few months, and today can only thank all pupils and their parents for their hard work and
support. And from all of us a huge thankyou to my fantastic staff for all their hard work and dedication.”
Aaron Bayley, Headteacher of Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, Amlwch, thanked pupils, family and staff for their resilience and support.
He said: “This we week we not only celebrate a set of GCSE or Alevel results but also the resilience and maturity of our young people. Through your massive efforts and teamwork Teulu YSTJ has succeeded to overcome challenges and show that anything is possible.
“To our special young people, you are an inspiration and we are so very proud of you. To our parents, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and for remaining positive.
“And to our staff, you are heroes and our young people know that they are moving forward having had every last ounce of energy you had to give. Today is a day to enjoy and we can put the last year and a half in the archive and look forward to a happy and successful future!
“Well done you and enjoythe rest of your summer!”