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Mixed Feelings in a Strange Year as Guildford’s Students See Their Results

Published on: 14 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 14 Aug, 2020

Two George Abbot students with their exam results.

Sixth-formers at Guildford County School, George Abbot School, and others across the borough are celebrating their exam results, having faced months away from school.

Like their peers across the country, students at George Abbot, part of the Guildford Education Partnership (GEP Academies), have faced a situation they never could have imagined with their last year of sixth-form curtailed and exams cancelled.

Staff and teachers worked extremely hard to ensure the ranking of students was accurate and centre-assessed grades reflected a student’s achievements.

Approximately 75% of students at George Abbot will now take up places at university, with Oliver Friend-Smith and Holly Freed going to study law and engineering respectively at Cambridge and Oxford.

Students also achieved impressive outcomes in vocational courses. More than a third of all students taking a BTEC achieved a Distinction* or Distinction grade.

A total of 82% of students secured A* – C in an A Level qualification and an average point score of 37.8, with 33% of grades awarded at an A or A*.

Eighteen students did remarkably well, securing A* and A grades in all their subjects. They include Bence Csakany, Fabio Dos Santos, Oliver Friend-Smith, Theo Elliott, Holly Freed, Lorna Mole, Ella Gibbons and Jenny Harrington who achieved all A* grades.

George Abbot continues its long tradition of supporting students gaining places in some of the top-ranked universities with five students having achieved the grades required to study at Oxford or Cambridge, reading law, engineering, natural sciences and physics.

Headteacher Kate Carriett said: “Our students and staff have navigated the difficult past few months exceptionally well. George Abbot School’s strong record of academic excellence has been matched by resilience and determination in a really challenging period for our students.

“I am really pleased so many of our sixth-formers will be leaving equipped with not only strong exam grades but the strength of character and independence needed for a bright future.”

Tom Robinson, director of Sixth-Form, said: “I am so proud of how our Year 13 students have coped with such a challenging end to their sixth-form journey.

“As a comprehensive sixth-form one of our key aims, in addition to academic achievement, is to prepare students for the next stage of their lives. We pride ourselves on the development of the whole student.

“This year group has grown into a wonderful collection of young people who I know will gain strength from this experience to achieve amazing things in the future.”

CEO of GEP Academies Jack Mayhew said: “I congratulate all our sixth-form students who have gone the extra mile to get these results, buoyed by a talented and committed set of teachers.

“Since joining GEP Academies in May I have been struck by the diversity of our schools and the creativity in our classrooms. George Abbot not only excels academically each year but it sends off into the world young people who care passionately about their role in society and want to make a positive contribution.

“Our schools are unique but have a shared commitment to raising standards, to trying new things, to bringing about the best possible academic outcomes for Surrey’s school children. Today I hope all our young people can celebrate and look forward to the future.”

At Guildford County school, the deputy headteacher Antonella Bosco-Reid, said: “Today we are celebrating the hard work and achievements of our students here at Guildford County School. My sincere thanks go to the sixth-form and exams teams for making sure the morning ran so smoothly and also to the many other staff who attended to help with the distribution of results and to offer their congratulations and support to the students themselves.

“Although studies and preparation for the exams were abruptly halted by the lockdown at the end of March and the cancellation of the A Level exams for this summer, we want to celebrate their many achievements over the seven years they have been with us.

“Our students did not get a chance to show what they would have achieved in formal A Level exams but instead, there has been a complex process to allocate a “Centre Assessment Grade” (CAG) and a ranking for each student in each subject.

“There has been debate and controversy in the media about the CAG process, but we must not allow this to distract us all from celebrating the hard work of our students over a great number of years. Indeed, we cannot allow our students to be defined by this most unusual of times.

“These students did not get the chance to have the usual leavers’ events, so it is important they can move on to the next stage in their education with the sense of achievement and recognition that they all so rightly deserve.

“The A-Level results this year have been allocated according to a standardisation model which uses the results of previous years, rather than being a reflection of the standards in the school in the academic year 2019-20. As a result, the DfE are not compiling or publishing school performance figures so, Surrey schools and others will not be publishing these figures for this summer.

“But we are delighted to acknowledge individual stories of success. Three County students, Bethan, Rebecca and Jamie have secured places at Oxford University. We are also tremendously proud of Cameron who has secured a place at the Royal Academy of Music and Ellie and Leah who are the first of their families to go to university.

“At the time of writing, all our students who applied to university have secured places at prestigious ones, including Russell Group universities.

Steve Smith, head of Guildford County School, said: “Today represents the end of one phase of each student’s education and the opportunity to recognise and celebrate what they have achieved.

“We are delighted to be able to congratulate the Class of 2020 for their many achievements and also to wish them well as they move on to the next phase of their lives with our full support and best wishes.”

But Wendy Robinson, Service Head of Childline at the NSPCC cautioned that the results could cause problems for some teenagers especially in this year’s unusual circumstances: “Usually around this time teenagers are anxiously awaiting their A-Level and GCSE results, having spent months revising and sitting their exams. But as we’ve already learned, nothing in 2020 is the same.

“Between April and July 2020, Childline delivered 1,121 counselling sessions with young people who said they were feeling overwhelmed that their exams had been cancelled, were struggling with the uncertainty and felt robbed of the chance to sit exams. Others regretted not taking their mocks more seriously.

“It’s vital that children remember their grades do not define them and there are still plenty of options for them. Childline has advice for children and parents and carers to help them during these uncertain times.

“If you don’t feel the grade reflects your child’s ability speak to the school about retaking the exam this autumn. Or make an appeal about how the grade was decided. Look at other courses, training programmes and apprenticeships. Speak to the university they’ve applied to, they might be flexible. And don’t forget there’s always the clearing process.

“If your child finds it hard to talk about their results, be patient and supportive until they feel ready. Encourage them to take their time and think about what they want to do next. Write down a list of pros and cons. They can also contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice on 0800 1111 or

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