TEENAGERS of all ages have come away from Burnt Mill Academy with top GCSE grades.
A new national grading system was introduced two years ago, enabling top achieving students to strive beyond an A* grade for the new grade 9.
It is a grade just a handful of the brightest students around the country are awarded.
But, there were plenty of grade 9s handed out to students at Burnt Mill Academy, in Harlow, this year.
Head boy Asa Fletcher-Snow and head girl Isabel Murphy lead the way – collecting 19 grade 9s between them. Of those results, five were achieved when the students were in Year 10.
Asa, who is going to Bishops Stortford High School to study chemistry, physics, biology and maths, said: “Given the uncertainty around the situation, I did not know what to expect from the results. I was definitely hoping for these grades, but was quite incensed when it was suggested those in more deprived areas might be disadvantaged. There would have been a lack of social mobility for our year, if so. I am really glad they changed their minds.
“It is annoying I did not get the chance to prove I could have got those grades off of my own merit, but I am proud and thankful I worked hard throughout the year and did not save it all until the end.
“I have really enjoyed my time at Burnt Mill, so it is quite saddening how it ended in March. It is a massive shame we did not get a proper send-off, but people’s safety is the main concern. Hopefully, we can get some sort of goodbye when things settle.
“The opportunity to be head boy has given me greatly improved public speaking skills and confidence. I have been able to have an influence in school and help students around me. I have definitely matured as a person under the guidance of my teachers. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Burnt Mill.
“I am very excited to start a new chapter.”
Isabel, who is going to Herts and Essex Sixth Form to study biology, chemistry and geography, said: “I am very happy with my results; I was really shocked to open them. I had thought that without sitting the exams, I would not get those grades. I worked so hard for them last year, but worried that without doing the exams they would not recognise my hard work. But, they definitely have.
“Sometimes, we would stay at school until 5pm for interventions and then go into school on Saturday mornings most weekends. We were able to revise in school which was the best environment. It was definitely worth it.
“When we left school in March, I put the results to the back of my mind as August was a long way off. Leading up to this week, I was really worried, especially when it was announced that A-levels had been downgraded.
“When it was announced that school was to close, I realised they would be my last few days at Burnt Mill. It all came to such an abrupt end.
“As head girl, I have become more confident in everything. Having to give presentations has helped with my confidence and they are all skills I can carry on with me to sixth form.”
Year 10 student Lauren Burgess took Spanish and biology GCSE courses early and picked up grade 9 in both this week. Last year, she achieved a grade 8 in music.
She said: “I was a lot happier than expected with my results as everything has been so up in the air. It has been hard to tell how things were going to go. But, I am 100% happy.
“I am hoping I can get similar grades in all subjects, but it will be slightly harder next year as we have lots of content to cover, as well as adjusting to the new systems at school.
“But, at least I already have three of the grades I need for college in the bag, so it takes some of the pressure off of Year 11.”
Year 9 student Lois Vaculin also took GCSEs early, collecting grade 8 in dance and grade 7 in music.
She said: “I am really proud of myself for achieving this in Year 9. When I knew I was going to be doing GCSEs in Year 9, I felt I needed to prepare myself and realise it was not a year to mess about. This was my actual GCSEs and I had to really try.
“I was disappointed we did not get to sit our exams as I had worked really hard. I was really shocked when I opened my results and could not stop shaking. I am happy with my grades.”
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