After an unprecedentedly tough year for schools and young people, schools across the country have reported record exam results, with 44 per cent of pupils in England receiving an A or A* in teacher-overseen A-level assessments overseen by the exam boards.
Catholic schools have shared the success. Leading Jesuit independent school Stonyhurst College gained results well above even the surging national average, with 81 per cent of pupils getting Bs or better in their A-levels, and 55 per cent getting an A or A*.
Other Catholic schools have also posted impressive results, often with students facing tough personal challenges.
Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy in Derby announced that 75 per cent of their students had achieved a B or better, and nearly 50 per cent attaining an A or A*. One pupil, Declan Webster, got A*s in History, English Literature and Sociology and is going to Oxford University to study History. He is blind and the school cited its “enhanced resource base, which supports students with a wide range of visual and physical impairments”, helping Declan achieve his potential.
Christ the King Sixth Forms, a group of three sixth form colleges with an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse intake, likewise heralded a year of success in the face of adversity, announcing that A-level candidates had “surpassed national benchmarks” with a pass rate of 100 per cent, compared to 98.4 per cent last year.
Among the successes was Damilola Afolabi, who achieved an A* in Religious Studies, an A* in Sociology and an A in Psychology and who intends to take up a place at Birmingham University in September to study Psychology. She said: “I just can’t believe it, I am so happy to have exceeded my expectations and it is a truly wonderful feeling. Christ the King is an amazing college, the teachers are very supportive and the Learning Resources Centre has extended opening hours so students can study. I will be sending my children here in years to come.”
There were similar successes in GCSE exams.
Anuj Ashok, a student at Mount St Mary’s in Derbyshire, said: “I got nine 9s and one 8. I’m so pleased. I was a little bit nervous and my results are better than I was expecting. I’m absolutely delighted.”
Students across the several schools in the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust have been celebrating.
Students at St Thomas More Catholic Voluntary Academy in Buxton “achieved the very best GSCEs possible”, according to headteacher David Redfern, who said: “Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Class of 2021 have really earned each and every grade they have been awarded.”
It has also been a good year for the subject of RS (Religious Studies) which saw a 6.1 per cent increase in entrants, outperforming both the average increase and all other humanities subjects, with 16,645 RS A-level entries recorded in England and Wales this year, compared with 15,690 in 2020.
Professor Trevor Cooling, chair of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, said: “Religious Studies has maintained its popularity over the past two decades at A Level. Young people clearly value the importance of extending their knowledge and understanding of religious and non-religious worldviews at A-level and continue to vote with their feet.”