A-level joy for Wales sixths after ‘difficult couple of years’ |  A level

A-level joy for Wales sixths after ‘difficult couple of years’ | A level

A-level joy for Wales sixths after ‘difficult couple of years’ |  A level

There were many tears, but they were largely good, joyful and relieved for sixth form pupils at Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, a secondary school in the town of Caernarfon, North Wales.

Although two years of study were interrupted by the Covid pandemic, which meant a valuable little real-life experience to pass an exam, the 56 students got the results they needed for the places they aspired to.

“It’s been a bit hectic, to say the least,” said Catrin Lloyd, who opened her envelope in the school hall under a streamer of Welsh flags to find she had three HAS *. This means she can study English Literature later at Bangor University. “There were a few staffing issues, a few days missed due to Covid but it went well in the end.”

Catherine Lloyd
Catrin Lloyd: “It went well.” Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian

Osian McGuinness left for the University of Manchester to study history and French after earning three A*s. He had checked with Ucas (the admissions service for universities and colleges) on his way to the school to see if he had a place. “I tried not to, but I couldn’t help it,” he said. “It has been a difficult few years due to Covid, especially when we were studying online. We didn’t take the GCSE exams so it was weird taking them.

Begw Owen said she had no idea what results to expect. “Because we hadn’t done proper exams before, I walked out of each of them unable to get a sense of what I had done.” She got an A* and two A’s and went to study medicine in Cardiff.

Osian McGuinness celebrates with his classmates.
Osian McGuinness, left: “It’s been a tough few years.” Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian

Most of the students showed up as soon as the doors opened. Some arrived in groups and opened their envelopes together; others grabbed theirs and rushed to a corner, a few struggling to open their envelopes because their hands were shaking so much.

The school, named after a pioneer of higher education in Wales born in nearby Anglesey, teaches in English and Welsh. Director Clive Thomas said he was delighted with the results. “It’s been really difficult with the staff and the students not feeling well and the school having to close at times. But the students persevered and took it seriously and were really successful at the end of two very difficult.

Thomas said more pupils than usual seemed to be going to universities in England, such as Manchester and Liverpool, rather than staying in Wales, possibly because of the Labor government’s Seren network, designed to help brightest students to reach their potential.

Welsh Language and Education Minister Jeremy Miles hailed the strength of this year’s cohort. “I have spoken with employers about the experience of these learners and I am convinced that employers will consider this group of young people to have had a unique and stimulating experience and to have demonstrated great resilience, great robustness , the ability to be self-sufficient, team players, all things that employers greatly appreciate. »

Welsh was feared to be hit by Covid, with closures keeping pupils away from places such as schools where the language is spoken. Miles said the Welsh language results were good but the number of test takers was lower than he wanted. ‘We are doing a lot of work to reform Welsh language qualifications to make them more attractive,’ he said.

Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen students celebrate their results.
Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen students celebrate their results. Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian

Back in Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen’s room, Faye Reynolds was happy with her three A’s and a C and plans to travel for a year before studying acting. “Everyone did amazing things,” she said. “I’m so proud of everyone.”

Poppy Jones, who is going to Aberystwyth University to study history and politics, said it had been a scary day. “I’m glad it’s over.” She and several of her friends headed to Cube nightclub in Bangor for an A-level results “white UV t-shirt” party. “It’s going to be a great night,” she says.

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