MORE than 1,000 students from Priestley College received their exam results this year and looked forward to university, apprenticeships and employment.
Not only did the entire Class of 2020 receive their marks for both A-Level and Vocational subjects, but a further 1,000 Year 1 students also received their AS marks.
Priestley’s new Principal James Gresty said he felt inspired by the dedication shown by young people and tutors during such a difficult time.
“This has been a year like no other, but here at Priestley we feel like we had a set of students like no other and we could not be more proud of them,” he said.
“Alongside accessing remote learning, pastoral care and careers guidance during lockdown, they have also been supporting their families and friends and making valued contributions to their communities.
“We do, however, share the concerns of our colleagues across the country about the negative impact the method of calculating grades has had on some students.”
Among those who impressed on results day was Meg Byrom who collected A*s in Geography and English and an A in Politics. She is now headed to Cambridge to study Politics.
“Going to Cambridge had never been on my radar until I joined Priestley,” she said. “Studying on programmes like The Graduate was so influential in my decision making and my tutors supported me all the way.”
Another student heading to Cambridge is former Sir Thomas Boteler pupil Damien Dooley who will be studying Natural Sciences.
During his course he became best friends with Jordan Holdsworth as they shared every class. Both earned A*s in Chemistry and Maths, an A in Physics while Damien added another A* in the Extended Project while Jordan achieved an A.
“We met on the starter day at Priestley and then again on our first day and have been friends since,” said Jordan, who has accepted a place at Warwick studying Maths.
Despite the uncertainty resulting from coronavirus Priestley students had extra reassurance thanks to taking AS-Levels at the end of Year 1, an option not available at other local colleges.
These results can be used as evidence for any student choosing to appeal the final grades, which have been determined by the Government’s standardisation process.
James said the college would support any student who wanted to appeal, secure a grade review or take a resit in Autumn.
“We will do whatever we can to help everyone navigate their next step into higher education, apprenticeships or employment,” he said.
One of the students who was certain about his next step was former St Ambrose College pupil Greg Wilmot who got As in History, Economics and Politics, securing his Economics degree apprenticeship with the Civil Service.
Former Culcheth High pupil Hannah Gallier took home a triple distinction* in Art and Design and is now headed to Nottingham Trent University.
“I’ve had a really good time at Priestley, I’ve made a lot of friends and the teachers have been really supportive,” she said.
Today Priestley’s outgoing Principal Matthew Grant said the cohort was as deserving of their grades as any other.
“Although students didn’t take exams this year these A-Level and Vocational results are the culmination of years of dedication from our students,” he said.
“They are not, nor have they even been, something that just happens in the last few months of their second year.
“Every one of them should be proud of their achievements, as should their parents, carers and tutors.”
New principal’s praise for ‘inspirational’ efforts
PRIESTLEY College’s new principal has paid tribute to the young people of Warrington, their families and tutors following results day.
James Gresty, who has taken over from retiring Matthew Grant, said he had been inspired by the efforts involved in securing grades during such a turbulent year.
“I would like to thank the staff, parents and our partner schools who have all supported the students during this difficult time,” he said.
“The students themselves have been inspirational. They have shown they are hardworking and dedicated to become the best they can be.”
College President Daniella Glenn, who was on the panel that selected James as Principal, was among those collecting AS-Level results today.
The former Culcheth High pupil said one of the reasons she chose Priestley was because of the option of taking AS-Levels which meant she could keep more options open in her first year.
“I hope taking AS-Level exams has given some of the Year 2s some reassurance because it has been a tricky time for everyone,” she said.
During lockdown hundreds of learning and tutorial opportunities were supported by the very latest technology and software such as Google Classroom.
Extra pastoral support was offered to students along with careers guidance and support in applying for university places.
Efforts have been made across college to ensure young people are ready for work and have acquired the essential skills to be successful in life.
James, who has 18 years’ experience working in sixth form colleges, said that despite all of the challenges, the cohort’s results showed real progress.
“It has been an unsettling time for many young people, but we should take this moment to celebrate all the students who have received results this week,” he said.
“Success means something different to every one of them. For some it means getting into university, for others it is securing the grades they need to help them pursue their career.
“I feel proud to be the new principal at Priestley and am looking forward to welcoming our students – as well as anyone looking to make a fresh start in September – to college in a few weeks time.”