From education to employment

Derby and Derbyshire schools celebrate 2023 A-Level, T-Level and BTEC results

Sophia Werezak with her mum Rosalyn Werezak at Derby Grammar School. Image: Ian Hodgkinson - Picture It.

THE wait is finally over for thousands of teenagers in Derby and Derbyshire as they received their A-Level, T-Level and BTEC results.

For many students, these are the first formal exams that they have had to sit due to missing their GCSE examinations because of covid.

Nationally, the proportion of A or A* grades is 27.2% – down from a peak of 44.8% during the pandemic – but, according to statistics from UCAS, 79% of pupils gained a place at their first-choice university.

We visited several schools in the city and county to speak with staff and students, and to find out about their next steps.

Allestree Woodlands

Several students at the Blenheim Drive school celebrating better results than they expected. Abigail Hong is off to study computer science at the University of Nottingham. She said: “I got AA*A and I was thinking I may have got AAB so this is the best-case scenario for me.”

Heading off to Oxbridge universities following their results are Eddie Simpson and Katherine Henley. Eddie achieved five A*s and is going to Cambridge to study engineering. He said: “I needed A*A*AB to get on my course so I’m happy I got more than I needed.”

Katherine Henley A* AAA Oxford to study politics philosophy and economics. Image: Penguin PR.

Katherine will be studying politics, philosophy and economics and Oxford University. She got A*A*A*A. She said: “It was a tough process with entrance exams and three interviews for Oxford and at each stage I thought I hadn’t got through. Yesterday, I had convinced myself I would get AAC and was planning a gap year in my head, so I am really relieved to have got in.”

Head teacher Gemma Penny said: “We are really pleased to be celebrating the success of many students here at Allestree Woodlands. Our students have regrouped following a disrupted start to A-levels due to Covid. Overall school results are better this year than before the pandemic with 70% A* – C grades and 40% A*- B. We are really proud of them all for digging in and tackling this challenge and achieving such great outcomes.”

Derby Grammar School

Pupils at Derby Grammar School celebrated their A Level results today, with half of the grades being at least A* to B.
Year 13 student Sebastian opened his envelope to reveal he earned an A* in Biology, A in Maths and an A in Chemistry.
He will now go on to study Biomedicine at the University of Bristol. He said: “I am really happy with my results; all the hard work has paid off.
After being at Derby Grammar School since Primary School it will feel strange going somewhere new but I’m looking forward to continuing my educational journey in Bristol.”

Sophia Werezak with her mum Rosalyn Werezak at Derby Grammar School. Image: Ian Hodgkinson – Picture It.

Head Paul Logan reflected on the fact students who took their A-levels this year had never sat public exams before, with their GCSEs cancelled due to Covid 19.
He said: “Year 13 pupils have performed so well in what is their first set of public examinations, having missed taking GCSEs due to the pandemic.
“I would like to thank their teachers for going above and beyond in helping them prepare for these exams where we knew grading would return to pre-pandemic levels. Parents have worked with us to ensure pupils were as well-prepared as possible, and these efforts are borne out in the grades gained.”

The Bemrose School

Among those celebrating at The Bemrose School was Aimen Sadeedi, who is preparing to return to Bemrose next year in a very different role.

The 19-year-old will spend a year as a teaching assistant before heading off to the University College of London to study linguistics after receiving an A in English, B in sociology and Cantonese and a Distinction* in health and social care. 

She said: “The whole interview experience for university has been a really good experience. I’m not sure exactly what my role will be next year but I will be working with children of all abilities and helping them in the classroom and encouraging them. 

“I’m really thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve been given here. I moved to this country from Hong Kong two years ago with zero qualifications.  

“I’m really lucky to have met the teachers who recognised the sort of things I could achieve and who motivated me to be the best. I left Hong Kong during covid and I couldn’t do much until September when I sat my GCSEs.”  

Andy Scott, head of secondary at the school, said: “As a school we are very pleased with our results as it shows the hard work and commitment of both the students and the staff as they got back into a routine after covid. 

“We have to remember these students have never sat a public exam before their A-Levels and this shows that all of the endeavour and hard work has really paid off for our students. 

“Our results come on the backdrop of the national picture as we are generally back to pre-covid in terms of assessment. Our results are in line with pre-covid and we continue to see positive performances from the pupils.” 

The Long Eaton School

A student midwife and Oxford University place are among today’s A-level success stories at The Long Eaton School.

Alice Oldershaw said she was “very happy” with her double distinction star plus distinction for an Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care, which wins her a place to study midwifery at the University of Nottingham. Fellow pupil Matthew Tebbutt is off to the University of Oxford to study maths and computer science, with A* grades for maths and physics, and As for chemistry and computer science.

Alice said she had wanted to train as a midwife since she started secondary school.

She said: “Since I was in year seven, when my auntie was pregnant with my cousin, I was really intrigued and wanted to be part of the birth. At that point, that’s when I decided I wanted to be a midwife.

Photo shows: (l to r): Alice Oldershaw, two distinction stars and a distinction for her Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care; Nim Tung Lam, A, C, C and merit for applied business; Lucy Wheelhouse, with B, B and B. Image: Penguin PR.

“No-one in my family has been through a medical route. It’s a bit different from the rest of the family but something I want to try and give a go.”

Mark Shipman, principal at The Long Eaton School – part of Archway Learning Trust – said: “The Long Eaton School congratulates all Year 13 students on again a very successful year.

“Students leaving The Long Eaton School this year will go on to take up a variety of positions in employment, higher apprenticeship, or at university. We congratulate our students taking on degree apprenticeships with Rolls Royce, Balfour Beatty and Cooper Parry. Likewise, our students leaving us to study at Oxford, as well as various Russell group Universities including University of Birmingham, University of Sheffield and University of Nottingham.”

Netherthorpe School

Netherthorpe School – part of the Cavendish Learning Trust – has achieved its highest rate of passes at A* to B – 39% – since 2017, excluding the pandemic years.

The school has also seen a number of pupils opting for degree-level apprenticeships locally for companies including engineering giants Rolls-Royce.

Eighteen-year-old Lauren Rodger was at Netherthorpe with her parents, Carla Quinton and Daniel Rodgers, to collect her results. She achieved straight As in business studies, maths and product design and is off to Northumbria University to study Design for Industry.

She said: “Designing products for businesses has been my favourite subject since I joined Netherthorpe School in Year 7 and I’m so pleased that I’ll be able to study it further at university.”

Mum Carla said: “Lauren has worked so hard and put in a lot of effort. We’re really proud of her.”

Pupils at Netherthorpe School – part of the Cavendish Learning Trust – celebrate their results with headteacher Helen McVicar (far right). Image: Penguin PR.

Head boy James Vernon (18) is celebrating an A* in psychology plus two As in maths and PE by jetting off to Barcelona. He will study Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough University in September.

“I’m delighted that I got into my first-choice university,” he said.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Netherthorpe and received a lot of support from school whilst studying for my A-Levels. I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of the summer and a trip to Barcelona.”

Other results included two A*s and an A in maths, history and physics for eighteen-year-old Riley Lockwood, an A*, A and B for Megan Ives, who is off to study law at the University of Leicester, and an A*, two As and a B for Sam Rhodes.

Headteacher Helen McVicar said: “I have been so impressed with the dedication and hard work by our pupils this year. Teaching staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that they were prepared and able to fulfil their academic potential and take the next steps in their educational journey.

“We are proud to be an inclusive school that gives all students an opportunity to increase their life chances and access competitive opportunities beyond school.”

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