West Midlands students celebrate as A-Level successes come amid toughest of times

Delighted school and college students across the region are celebrating bumper results after sitting traditional A-Level exams for the first time since the Covid pandemic.

Aldridge School A-level celebrations in Walsall
Aldridge School A-level celebrations in Walsall

Education bosses said A-Level grades have seen a dip since the pandemic, but remain above 2019 levels with girls still outperforming boys and geography pushing English literature out of the top 10 most popular subjects.

The Joint Council for Qualifications said the overall pass rate for grades A* to E fell by 1.1 percentage points from 99.5 per cent in 2021 to 98.4 per cent this year.

Despite shifting trends sixth forms, colleges and councils in the Black Country and Staffordshire and Wyre Forest reported some outstanding achievements, stating they were incredibly proud of the efforts of the young people.

Wolverhampton College said the number of its students achieving grades A* to B has risen by 12 per cent in comparison to 2019 when results were last based on pupils sitting exams before 2020.

Ash Ilsley, 18, celebrates an A in sociology at Wolverhampton College

Among the best performers at the Paget road campus were India Martin, 18, who scored an A in business studies and Bs in sociology and politics, meaning she will be heading to Kings College, in London, to study sociology.

India, of Richmond Avenue, Compton, said: "I'm in shock. I've done better than I expected. I did sociology in one year instead of two which was a bit mad, but it's paid off."

Aspiring art student Ash Ilsley, 18, of Bentley, Walsall, gained A in sociology, C in psychology and E in biology will move on to Staffordshire University.

Sally Slater, Curriculum Manager for A-Levels, said: “I am so proud of our A-Level students. It’s been a really tough couple of years for education but they’ve all shown such determination and resilience and have now been rewarded with some fantastic results.”

At Windsor High School and Sixth Form, in Richmond Street, Halesowen, staff and pupils were celebrating after 60 gained at least one A* or A grade while at total of 13 gained all A* or A grades overall.

Among them is Yousef Dhafer, who joined the school at age 14 unable to speak English, and who achieved three A*s and one A. Yousef, 18, who will be studying mechatronics and robotics engineering at Birmingham University said: “Never give up and keep working hard for what you want.”

Dudley Council’s cabinet member for children’s services Councillor Ruth Buttery said: "We are delighted to see our students receiving their A-Level and BTEC Level 3 results after two years of significant disruption and I would like to thank pupils, parents and teachers for their dedication and hard work to achieve today’s results.

"It is a joy to see so many amazing outcomes for our students today, which will allow them to go onto further education and training towards their chosen careers.

"The dedication and enthusiasm that these students have demonstrated during this time, whatever their grades, is tremendous and they have shown pride, resilience, and tenacity throughout. My huge congratulations goes out to them."

At Stafford Grammar School, Maria Varughese, Arjun Mahal, Lucy Sheldon and Alice Chandler all 18, and Lucy Sayers, 19, achieved all A* grades in their subjects. Among these Maria attained A* in biology, chemistry, physics and maths; while Lucy Sayers attained A* in economics, psychology and politics.

Cheslyn Hay Students Zoe Allerton, Carmen Connolly, Abbie Taylor, Emily Hall, Katherine Roberts

At Cheslyn Hay Academy, in Saredon Road, Cheslyn Hay, 32 per cent of all pass grades were A* or A, 62 per cent were A* to B with an overall pass rate of 99 per cent.

At Blessed William Howard Catholic High School, in Rowley Avenue, Stafford, one in four achieved A* or A grades, more than over 80 per cent gained A* to C grades. Overall 99 per cent passed with grades A* to E.

At Cannock Chase High School, in Hednesford Road, Cannock, said 95 per cent of pupils who applied for university achieved at their first choice place.

In Walsall, among those celebrating were Joseph Leckie Academy, in Walstead Road, Delves, which posted its best ever A-Level results with 101 pupils gaining A-Levels and equivalent with the vast majority of students leaving the academy with three or more passes.

Joseph Leckie's assistant principal Joe Greaves said: "These results are the culmination of two years of incredibly hard work from our students and staff. These students have been through so much through the pandemic, online learning and disruptions to their education. To think that these are the first examinations that they have completed in a formal exams setting makes the results even more impressive."

At Aldridge School, in Tynings Lane, Aldridge, outgoing headteacher Ian Bryant said more than 80 per cent of the sixth formers sitting the exams and vocational courses were going to university.

In Sandwell, success stories included Sonia Sapkota, of Phoenix Collegiate, in Clarke's Lane, in West Bromwich, who will go to Cambridge University to study law with two A* passes and an A.

Sandwell's education chief Councillor Simon Hackett said: “This year’s students have had to face some of the toughest challenges due to the pandemic with some not sitting any formal exams until this summer.

“School staff have also faced these challenges head on and I want to thank them for all their hard work and dedication in getting these students ready for their exams and enabling them to achieve these excellent results.

“There are some outstanding results from young people here in Sandwell so congratulations to young people and thank you to families for all their support.”

In Kidderminster, Holy Trinity School and Sixth Form Centre, in Birmingham Road, 28 per cent of all grades attained were A to A* with 98 per cent grades A* to E overall. The school said the best performing departments were art and design and English.

Headteacher Pamela Leek-Wright said: “We are absolutely thrilled with our A-Level results which are some of the best results students at Holy Trinity have ever achieved."

At King Charles I School, in Comberton Road, in Kidderminster, 65 per cent achieved a A*-B grade and 100 per cent A-Level course pass rate.

At Walsall College it was the first time that the new T-levels for those on vocational and apprenticeship career paths were being taken up. T-levels are equivalent to three A-Levels.

Walsall College students celebrating, from left: Jamie-Leigh Thompson, 19, Lydia Handley, 18, Kayla Warke, 18, Simran Kaur, 18

Simran Kaur, 18, of Somerset Road, Rushall, Walsall, was among a delighted group to achieve distinctions in childcare and education. She is heading to Sheffield Hallam University to study for a degree in education and children's psychology.

Simran said: "I needed a merit grade and I got a distinction. I'm really happy. that was the uni I wanted to go to. I really liked it at the open day.

"I want to help children with mental health issues. I undertook a work placement at college and I've been offered a part-time job working with children with special needs until uni starts."

Others to attain distinctions in the same course included Jack Wheeldon, 18, of Great Wyrley; Kayla Warke, 18, of Waverley Road, Bloxwich; Lydia Handley, 18, of McDougall Road, Wednesbury; and Jamie-Leigh Thompson, 19, of Birchfield Way, Yew Tree, Walsall.

Construction, surveying and design students Tyree Clarke, of Stubbs Road, Wolverhampton, and Leah Hickman, of Cannock, both 18, were among six to be offered part-time roles with construction company Balfour Beatty Vinci after gaining distinctions.

Tyree, who is now moving on to a part-time civil engineering and transportation degree at Wolverhampton University, said: "I'm really happy. This is what I needed to get to go to uni. I was expecting it because I've been working really hard.

"My dream job is to be a chartered civil engineer to oversee projects like building bridges, roads and tunnels."

Labour's Shadow education minister Toby Perkins was among the guests greeting students opting to open their envelopes at the Littleton Street West main campus.

Mr Perkins said: "It's been great to meet both the students who have got their results today. Due to lockdown a lot of them will have been through a really difficult couple of years. They are the first to have undertaken the T-level qualifications.

"It's also great to meet the employers too."

Education chiefs say the top five subjects by popularity remain unchanged with maths, psychology, biology, chemistry and history remaining the top choices followed by sociology, art and design, business studies, physics and geography. English literature fell out of the top 10 for the first time.

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