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Our Year 11 pupils began their back-to-school routines today by opening their GCSE results, either in person or online. Beyond the usual nervousness after weeks of waiting, they were uncertain about what the re-drawing of grade boundaries to reflect a post-pandemic stiffening of standards would mean. They were relieved and excited to find out how well they had done and households around North London were awoken to whoops of well-deserved jubilation and celebration.

Head, Adam Pettitt, commented: “Hats off to our Year 11 pupils! We were confident that their efforts would pay off as they had been so purposeful and well-organised in the run-up to the exam season, but it’s been a delight to see their hard work and their enjoyment of being pitched against a big challenge translate into such brilliant outcomes. Of course, study isn’t and shouldn’t be all about exams, but there’s nonetheless a genuine, deserved uplift in self-confidence and self-belief when things go well. We are looking forward to seeing this Year 11 take to sixth form study: they look absolutely ready for the next chapter!”

Several pupils arrived at our Sir Martin Gilbert Library this morning to collect their little white envelopes containing GCSE results in person. There were some apprehensive but ceremonious group openings as friends gathered together to mark this rite of passage. Year 11 Cindy, complete with backpack ahead of a train journey down to meet friends at Reading Festival, shared her thoughts: “It was stressful thinking about my results but I’m happy now and ready to go and celebrate – I’m about to head off on the train to Reading. The A levels I want to study are Politics, Maths, Chemistry and French – I think!”  Year 11 Vasili, who collected his results digitally, added: “I feel that the return of public exams is a massive step in the right direction for the nation to return to complete normality by allowing young people to fully show what they can achieve in each subject. I’m now really excited to be heading back to school to start my A-levels because they will give me the opportunity to focus on the subjects I want to take forward with me.”

Pupils collecting their results in person at Highgate’s Sir Martin Gilbert Library

We will be publishing details of our aggregate GCSE results in due course. This year’s exams were a return to public assessment with pupils sitting papers in just under fifteen hundred subject entries. Exam boards were directed to pitch the grade boundaries at a mid-point between the 2021 teacher-assessed grades and the last full set of externally assessed exams of 2019. Numeric grades (1-9) were awarded for the first time in all subjects sat by Highgate’s pupils; grades 8 and 9 equate to the old A*. Head of Middle School, Arthur Dabrowski, commented: “The grades seem to speak for themselves, but each one represents a personal journey through and beyond the pandemic – we are truly proud of the maturity and independence that these pupils have developed on that journey.”

All Highgate’s Year 12 students embark on a four A level programme which enables and encourages critical breadth and avoids specialising too early. Reflecting on the subject choices pupils have made, James Newton, Deputy Head (Academic) commented: “As we celebrate the enormous amount of hard work that this resilient and nerveless Y11 cohort put into their studies and final revision, I am not only struck by their well deserved and fantastic results, but also their A level subject combinations: it is wonderful to see a double mathematician also opting for Latin and Classics, a 3x scientist taking Fine Art and one pupil who is really keeping options open with the fabulous quartet of English Literature, Mandarin, Maths and Politics. Imagine how much fun and how varied their academic week will be!”

Senior Deputy Head, Louise Shelley, highlighted the significance of the 2022 GCSEs as a passport to an exciting future, commenting: “These brilliant students now take with them not only a key to unlock future opportunities (in the form of these fantastic grades), but also the skills and aptitudes to thrive at further study and employment down the line. It’s this genuine interest in learning, combined with the development of vital transferable employability skills, that helps pupils to be well prepared for life beyond school.”

Highgate’s Class of 22 Year 13 Leavers

94% of our Year 13 leavers secured first-choice or insurance places at university for entry this autumn which delighted staff at the school who had been worried about the fiercer competition this year. “It was crucial for students to have made realistic choices this year and we were so pleased that the Class of 2022 had listened to advice, not only working hard but diversifying choices of courses and destinations to be confident about realising their ambitions at university,” commented Adam Pettitt. He continued: “The pandemic has taught some hard lessons and students across the capital should be congratulated for the stoical, mature way they have adapted to this new reality.”