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Students Celebrate GCSE results after dramatic year
Following an unprecedented year, and an astonishing week of announcements on assessment, Year 11 students at Westminster Academy finally received their exam results today.
With a provisional 78% of students achieving 9-4 grades in English and Maths, and a Progress 8 score of 0.89, students achieved the outstanding grades they had been expecting, and now look forward to exciting Sixth Form courses this September.
The highest achiever, Ariana Preda, achieved nine grade 9s and one grade 8, after moving to the UK just two years ago. Other top achievers include Murbarkh Abdulhamid with eight grade 9s and one grade 8, and Kush Majithia, who achieved six grade 9s and three grade 8s.
The awarding of GCSE grades has not been without high drama. This time last year, students were preparing for the most important school year of their lives. In September they threw themselves into after school interventions, additional revision, attended sessions on exam technique and sat through a rigorous programme of mock exams; all to prepare them for their GCSEs. Right up until mid March, many students would stay at school until as late as 7.00pm, studying independently, in small study groups or with their teachers to give themselves the best possible chances of success in their exams. At the same time that the country had to come to grips with locking down, Year 11 students also had to process the cancellation of their exams as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, after a nerve-wracking summer of uncertainty, students endured an additional week of anxiety as reports broke of inconsistency and unfair outcomes in assessment due to anomalies in Ofqual’s standardisation process. With a change to assessment announced on Monday, students are today receiving centre assessed GCSE grades and Ofqual’s calculated grades in the instance that these were higher than centre assessed grades. At Westminster Academy grade estimates were informed by autumn, winter and spring exam results, results of non-exam assessments, as well as the sequence and trajectory of progress since the end of Year 10. The grades were determined after a month-long process, reviewed and authenticated at departmental and senior leadership level, issuing the most likely grade a student would have received had they sat their exams and completed any non-exam assessment. This year’s Year 11 cohort were a particularly capable group who worked hard and as such the Academy feels strongly that they fully deserve the excellent grades they have been awarded.
Emmanuel Tsega, who achieved six grade 9s and one grade 4, commented, “We were really shocked when exams were cancelled this year, and it’s been a very uncertain time without sitting our GCSEs. But I got the grades I expected and am really happy.” Looking to the year ahead when he will study the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme at Westminster Academy, Emmanuel added, “I’m now looking forward to being in school again and I’m excited to start another journey.”
Sirad Ali said, “Hearing about A Levels being downgraded was a real worry - it seemed like they saw us as statistics and not as individual students - so I was really relieved when they switched to incorporating centre assessed grades.” Sirad was ultimately very happy with her five 9s, four 8s and one 7.
Taha Ben Tahar, who achieved one nine and seven 8s, reflected on the challenges of the past year: “‘The hardest battles bring out the best in men.’ Looking back at the lockdown, it all seemed like doom and gloom at the beginning. It’s important to view trials and tribulations as an opportunity rather than something to bring you down. That’s why I’m here!” Taha is now looking forward to the next step as he embarks on the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Westminster Academy.
Principal, Dr Saima Rana, said, “Congratulations to our GCSE Class of 2020. They have suffered a tremendously turbulent and disappointing six months, but I am pleased that they are now being awarded the fairest possible results in the circumstances. The pandemic of 2020 should not be what defines this year group. They more than proved themselves through incredibly diligent preparation for exams and impressed us with the commitment and passion they put into our virtual school, WA Online. This is a year group of highly intelligent young people of many talents, among which there are leaders, sports people, researchers, performers, coaches, fundraisers, entrepreneurs, and we are excited to see what their future holds. Thank you to all those who have played a part in their education at Westminster Academy; in particular parents, carers, staff, sponsors, governors and our community and business partners.”