THEY had an experience like no other, but despite the pandemic Priestley’s 2021 cohort left college ready to fulfil their dreams and ambitions.
Around 1,000 Year 13 students received their results and looked forward to the next stage of their lives whether that be university, an apprenticeship or employment.
For Thomas Shaw, who was heading to University of Oxford to study Chemistry, it was a day to celebrate as he collected four A*s in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and the Extended Project.
“I was nervous that even if I got good grades they might not be enough to get into Oxford,” said the former Cardinal Newman High School pupil. “The pandemic changed my mind as to what I wanted to do and now I want to go into research and possibly teach at a high level.”
Uniquely for results day grades were being revealed for A-Levels and vocational options such as BTECs. That meant students on courses as diverse as Architecture, German and Public Services all found out the results of two years’ hard work.
Among the cohort at Priestley College were future medics, lawyers, vets, entrepreneurs and civil engineers.
Phoebe-Leigh Van Embden, a former pupil at St Nicholas Catholic High School, collected a triple distinction* in Performing Arts and will be continuing her studies at University of Chichester.
“Covid has made it a stressful time because we didn’t know what would be happening with exams, but I’m really excited to be going to university now,” she said.
Priestley’s Class of 2021 achieved a 100% pass rate in 31 A-Levels with 79% of all grades awarded at A* to C.
Across vocational courses there was a 100% pass rate in 56 Level 3 subjects and a high-grade rate of 78%.
Overall the cohort received 361 offers from the Russell Group, which are considered some of the UK’s finest universities.
Principal James Gresty said he felt an immense pride in students, their families and college staff for all that had been achieved despite the challenges posed by the past year.
“This cohort has shown a resilience and determination to fulfil their potential in the most testing of circumstances,” he said.
“They were supported throughout by their families, carers and our community of staff who all pulled together to ensure the education – and therefore the futures – of these young people didn’t suffer.”
All of Priestley’s students enjoyed some extra reassurance over many of their peers as they had taken AS-Levels at the end of Year One, which gave them a clearer idea of what progress they had made at college.
Among them was former Kings Academy pupil Madgey Thompson who achieved A*s in French, English Literature and Psychology. She is now off to the University of Oxford to study French & Arabic.
“When I realised there were lots of links between French and Arabic it seemed like the perfect course for me because I love the idea of learning history through a new language,” she said.