Exmouth Community College celebrates ‘best-ever’ set of A-level results

Exmouth Community College A-level students celebrate their exam success. Picture: Paul Strange.

Exmouth Community College A-level students celebrate their exam success. Picture: Paul Strange. - Credit: Archant

It may have been an overcast morning, but there was extremely bright news at Exmouth Community College on Thursday, August 17, as students and staff celebrated their ‘best-ever’ set of A-level results.

The impressive results were particularly heartening, as it was the final year that the college’s principal, Tony Alexander, would be overseeing things.

Mr Alexander said he was ‘thrilled to have achieved this landmark in my final year before retirement’.

Overall A-level results continued to improve on last year. The college said it achieved its ‘best-ever’ results in all major areas. Students and staff achieved a ‘fantastic’ 99 per cent pass rate (A*-E), and an ‘amazing’ 19 per cent A* to A grades, with 72 per cent of all grades being A-C.

Six students achieved A* or A grades, and many achieved the highest grade.

One of the college’s high achievers was 18-year-old Sarah Atkins. She had been studying Economics, English Literature and Philosophy and Ethics, and achieved two As and an A*. After a gap year – working as a teaching assistant –she’s going on to Oxford University. She looked surprised by her results, modestly saying she was ‘pretty pleased’ with them.

Emily Wells, 18, from Exmouth, was ‘totally over the moon’ and ‘really shocked’ by her results. She also got two As and an A*, and is off to Manchester University to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

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Rebecca Hawkins, 18, moved to Exmouth from Plymouth for the sixth form. She found the post-16 department ‘really good’, saying that ‘the teachers engage with you like you are an adult… which is really helpful’. She got an A and two Bs in maths, philosophy and ethics and business studies, and will be studying maths at Swansea University.

Samuel Carson – 18, from Exmouth – got an A* in maths, an A in chemistry and a B in law. “The A* was a surprise. The rest were all about what I expected.” He’s going to Reading University in September to study law and hopes to become a barrister.

“Post-16 has been good,” he said, “a bit more adult. The quality of the teaching has been good.”

Bradley Johnston, 18, from Exmouth, got an A*, two As and a B in his A-levels, and will be going to Southampton University. “It’s a huge weight off my chest,” he said. “I still haven’t come to terms with it.”

Aran Cheung, 18, had been studying law, maths and ICT. He got two Bs and a distinction *. He will be going to Cardiff University, to study law and criminology, and hopes to become a barrister or solicitor.

Lizzy Reffell, 18, from Exmouth, said she did ‘much better than expected’ in a ‘good day with some surprises’. She studied Philosophy and Ethics, Psychology and Physics, and got two A*s and a B. She’s off to York University to read law.

As the students gathered for their results, the college’s retiring principal, Tony Alexander told them that they were the college’s ‘best-ever’ year group.

Speaking shortly after to the Journal, he said: “They are our best-ever results, set against the backdrop of much more difficult exams. That reflects on two things – the preparation the staff put in before the exams, before we started the courses, and then the reaction of the students. “We did put pressure on them and sometimes we wondered perhaps if it was a bit too much pressure, but it would appear to have paid off, so I’m absolutely thrilled.

“The hard work, dedication and commitment of students and staff have reaped great dividends. I am thrilled that we have achieved this landmark in my final year before retirement.

“I’ve got very mixed emotions as it’s my last one. It’s a mixture of pride and a little bit of poignancy, if you will forgive me.”

Simon Tanner, assistant principal and head of Post-16, said: “I am delighted! This has been richly deserved by students and staff who worked incredibly hard all year. Government figures show we achieve significant improvement with all our students, but we never get complacent, and the end result is improved life chances for all our students, whatever their ability.”

As well as the A-levels, vocational and BTEC results showed a ‘massive’ improvement. The average guide achieved by the college’s Applied course students was a low Distinction, while the average grade achieved by the Technical level students was a Distinction star. “This,” said the college, “is highly pleasing for a college totally committed to comprehensive education.”

On behalf of the governing board at the college, chair of governors, Jill Elson said: “We have an excellent team of staff under the leadership of Tony Alexander. The students have achieved excellent results by hard work and taking opportunities open to them to help achieve these results.

“Thanks are due to the support of parents to their children and to the college. Well done everyone.”