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Posted on 23 Aug 2018

GCSE results complete award-winning year at Westminster Academy

There was a buzz of anticipation, nerves and excitement today at Westminster Academy as students celebrated an outstanding set of GCSE results with 71% of students achieving the benchmark 9-4 grade in English and Maths. Other notable successes included 100% of students achieving 9-4 grades in Chemistry, Physics, Music, Business, Dance, ICT, Media and Travel and Tourism. In the first year of the new science exams, the Academy was delighted to also see 97% of students achieving 9-5 grades in Physics and 95% of students achieving grades 9-5 in Chemistry.

There were smiles and relief from top performing students. Irakli Antidze achieved an impressive five 9s, four 8s, one A* and one A, saying, “At first I got a feeling of dread that my grades wouldn’t be as good as I expected, then when I opened them I got really excited.” He explained that the key to his success was hard work. “I revised a lot. It’s easier to do that than cram.” Irakli is now looking forward to relaxing for the rest of the summer before beginning the IBDP at Westminster Academy. Joining him on the IB will be two students who arrived in the country just two years ago, Alysha Rajabali, who achieved five 9s, an 8, two 7s and a Distinction*, and Colm Creaner, who achieved a 9, three 8s, two 7s, a 6 and a Distinction*. Celebrating with Colm were his parents, Geraldine and Gerard Creaner. They explained, “Colm came to the school in Year 10 from the USA, not knowing the education system, and was embraced by the school - staff and students alike. Everything the school has done has been to make sure students have plenty of support, guidance and the ability to perform on the day of the exam to get them off to a great start in life. It was Colm’s dream to study the IBDP here, so it is a very proud day for us.”

As an IB school with an international perspective, Westminster Academy was particularly pleased to see 100% of Spanish and German GCSE students achieving grades 9-4. Chaima Ouahil was thrilled with her results in her four language exams, achieving As in Italian and Arabic, and grade 8s in both Spanish and French. “Speaking to people from other countries and listening to music in other languages has really helped me. It is all about taking an interest.”

With significant changes to the grading system, this year’s cohort faced the challenge of being the first students to sit the new style GCSEs across nearly all subjects, meaning that the 9-1 grading system has now replaced the old A*-C system. This has also meant radical changes to the structure and content of courses, one example being Science, with the new Combined Science GCSE awarded as a double grade to reflect the greater amount of content being taught. Having been the first students to sit the English grammar, punctuation and spelling (SPAG) test as part of an overhaul of key stage 2 SATS in 2013, students were once again anxious about the implications of being the first to tackle the new exams, under national scrutiny. Ellie O’Connor, who achieved two 9s, six 8s and a Distinction*, said, “The stress was real. It made everyone apprehensive as no-one knew what to expect; this was intimidating. However, I just focused on what I had to do.”  Principal Dr Saima Rana praised students for their resilience and exceptional work ethic. “I am extremely proud of the way this cohort conducted themselves over the exam period; their positive, balanced and principled approach is a credit to them so I couldn’t be happier to see them rewarded with these results. I am excited to see what the future now holds for them.”

The Academy is proud to regard this year’s GCSE results as one of a number of achievements this academic year. After earning a Schools for Success award from the Mayor of London at the beginning of the year, in November Westminster Academy became the first secondary school in Westminster to be awarded the Healthy Schools Gold Award for its work to help children maintain a healthy weight, lifestyle and wellbeing. The school’s emphasis on collaborating with the community and business partners to enhance students’ learning, with a commitment to offering first-rate vocational pathways resulted in the Academy winning BTEC School of the Year in July, with Year 11 student Nada El-Hammoud being awarded BTEC Media Student of the Year. Dr Rana reflected, “It has been a hugely successful year for the Academy. These awards, along with IB and GCSE results are excellent recognition of the hard work of our staff and students, but ultimately we are proud that they represent opportunities that open doors for students. Arguably it is these opportunities, as much as academic results, which allow young people to make real choices about their lives and the impact they wish to make upon the world.”

The Academy thanked the ongoing support of parents and carers, including the Academy’s Parent Council, and the hard work of staff, sponsors, governors and the school’s community and business partners for their huge contributions over the past five years to the success of the Class of 2018.

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