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The nervous wait for GCSE exam results was finally over for Highgate’s Year 11 pupils today as they discovered if their hard work had paid off. Beyond the usual nervousness after weeks of anticipation, many were uncertain about how they might be affected by the return to the pre-pandemic grading standards by exam boards.

Amongst the 184 Highgate pupils receiving their grades, several arrived at our Sir Martin Gilbert Library this morning to collect their results in person, while others opted to receive the news online with their families at home. Friends gathered together to support each other with many of them looking relieved and excited to find out how well they had done.

Pupil Aurelia had a double celebration:

“I got all 8s and 9s and did better in Maths and Biology, which is interesting because I didn’t think that would happen. It’s also my birthday today so I’m heading home to eat some cake!”

This year’s exams were assessed using the 2019 grading standards by exam boards. Numeric grades (1-9) were awarded with grades 8 and 9 equating to A*. Overall, 93% of Highgate pupils were awarded grades 7, 8, or 9; 80% were at 8 or 9; and 50% of all entries were graded a 9.

Highgate’s Head, Adam Pettitt, congratulated the pupils:

“Well done to our Year 11 pupils! You have everything to be proud of and have made your teachers – all of us – proud of you! GCSEs are a rite of passage, but your generation has faced the additional challenge of tests toughened to bring them into line with pre-pandemic exams and the constant, scary commentary surrounding this complex process. Uncertainty is unsettling but you clearly kept focus and didn’t allow yourselves to be thrown off course.”

Mr Pettitt added:

“I praise these pupils for their great grades and salute the resilience and determination which saw them safely and sensibly attain such super outcomes and readied for the next exciting chapter. Resilience, determination, unflappability – what brilliant qualities to have developed. Well done again!”

Ismayl was delighted to score 9s across all of his subjects:

“I’m really happy because I got all grade 9s and I’m now going to take Chemistry, Spanish, Maths and Further Maths A levels here at Highgate Sixth Form with a view to doing Chemistry or science later on.”

Head of Middle School, Arthur Dabrowski, added:

“These brilliant grades induce appropriate delight and celebration, but for me, it reflects back on the multitude of individual journeys that brings a true sense of pride and joy. I’m sure parents will share those proud feelings when they think of all the effort their child invested on focussed study, revision notes, reading, quizzes, flashcards, past papers, clinics, not to mention the stress and exertion of the exams themselves – whatever the final result, the journey for all has been one of unquestionable growth. Preparing for, undertaking, and receiving the results of GCSE exams is a gruelling challenge, and one that this cohort has risen to with the sort of pragmatism that is not always associated with their generation. The level-headed hard work that they have demonstrated fills me with optimism for the future and they deserve our admiration and congratulations.”

Max came to school with his backpack ready to head off on a bank holiday break straight after collecting his results:

“I did better than I was expecting in a few subjects so I’m really happy. I got 9s in French, Biology and Maths so I’m staying at Highgate to do A levels in French, Biology, Maths and Economics.”

Pupils Max and Sonny collected their results at school this morning

The majority of Highgate’s Year 11 pupils will now embark on their four A level programme which enables and encourages critical breadth and avoids specialising too early.

James Newton, Deputy Head (Academic) commented on the pupils’ next part of their educational journey:

“I’m really pleased for the pupils in this cohort – their maturity and grit throughout the period of examinations was quite something. Despite all of the national commentary about the scaling down of grades, the pupils calmly got on with the task at hand.
They can now look forward to their next academic steps – for the vast majority this is in the Sixth Form here at Highgate, where many of the pupils’ chosen combinations of subjects show a wonderfully eclectic range of interests. One pupil is taking Russian, English Literature, Classical Greek and Mathematics; another has chosen Biology, Chemistry, Ancient History and French. Though these timetables may look eclectic, I am delighted pupils are following our advice, and that of university admissions tutors, in selecting A level subjects they love and are good at.”

91% of Highgate’s Year 13 leavers secured first-choice or insurance places at university for entry this autumn which delighted both pupils and staff who had been worried about the return to grading at pre-pandemic standards.

Senior Deputy Head, Louise Shelley, reflects on the rewards for teaching staff as much as the pupils:

“Today’s GCSE results and last week’s A levels are reflective of our pupils’ considerable talents and industrious endeavours, and I hope they will take stock and savour their personal achievements. As a teacher, one of the most rewarding parts of the job is witnessing individual pupils’ successes, and special thanks should go to all those members of staff whose knowledge and passion have helped support the pupils to achieve their ambitious goals.”

Pupil Sachi is staying at Highgate to do Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Economics A levels