THERE were celebrations and many a sigh of relief across the Forest this week as students learned of their A Level and BTEC results.

Students from Newent Sixth Form, Dene Magna, Wyedean and Gloucestershire College in Cinderford all learned if they'd achieved the grades needed for their next steps on Thursday (August 17).

In Newent, students celebrated some “amazing” results, with more than half achieving A*-Cs in the face of a steep fall in the number of top grades awarded nationally this year, and vocational courses receiving 100 per cent pass rates.

It meant the vast majority of students managed to secure their first-choice destination for further education, with a few having to use their second choice.

Following a visit from OSCAR and BAFTA award winning alumni student Tom Berkeley, the sixth form’s Performing Arts students have continued the school’s legacy in this area, all achieving Merit or Distinction grades. 

Principal student Olivia achieved a Distinction, securing her place at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) for Acting (Screen and Digital Media). 

The Art’s Team have also continued to build on past successes with their students having work exhibited locally and now moving to study art around the country.

Maddie is a “rare and exceptional” student who has fostered her love of Art alongside her love of Maths. 

She will read a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Cental Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, having achieved A* in Fine Art and Graphics, whilst Miks joins the University of Gloucestershire to study for a BA(Hons) Television Production.

Maths success continues with Sarah, who achieved top grades to read Maths at Bath University. 

Her “incredible” results of A* and A in Maths and Further Maths respectively add to the two A levels already gained in 2022.

Apprenticeship applications have also been successful, and one of particular note is that of Jamie, who has successfully achieved an apprenticeship as a trainee accountant with GCSD in Stonehouse. 

He now continues to train as an accountant with them, and the school “wishes him well” as there are more exams to come.

Principal Dawn Burke said: “This Year 13, is special. I want to congratulate all our students on their results and praise how they have shown strength and resilience over the past few years. 

“Many of them have had challenges through their studies and I feel nothing but pride in how they have continued to demonstrate their support of each other and community spirit. 

“They have truly upheld our school’s H.E.A.R.T values of honesty, excellence, accountability, respect and teamwork. It is fantastic to see so many of them having their next steps secured. 

“I am especially proud of our strong relationships with our students and would like to thank all the staff for their commitment in supporting them and their families, particularly Ms Rogers, Mr Britten and the Sixth Form team. 

“The grades represent an excellent achievement and again, enable the overwhelming majority of students to successfully progress to their chosen stage of education, employment and training.” 

Students from Dene Magna Sixth Form also enjoyed great success, performing “against the national trend” to improve on results from last year.

The school posted on social media: “Massive congratulations to the students at Dene Magna Sixth form who have received their A-level results today.  

“Against a national picture of grade reductions, particularly at the very top end, our students have performed against the trend, and our results continue to improve year on year. 

“Almost 95% of all grades achieved were a pass, with the average grade achieved by students standing at a C and 10% with an A/A*.  While a number of students were awarded A and A* grades, we’re equally proud of those who secured the grades they needed to achieve their places at University. 

“Particular congratulations go to Alex Timms, who is off to study Nursing, Willow Snelling, who will be studying English, Dom Greer, who is off to study Engineering, Milly Pritchard, who will be taking Law and Ella Lewis, to study Maths. 

“They, and many others, achieved the grades needed to secure their university offers: 77% of Dene Magna students achieved their offer at Uni, which is particularly striking given the national picture.

“We have students moving on to study a range of subjects, such as Paramedic Science, Veterinary Medicine, Criminology and Psychology. In addition to University, some students have already successfully acquired jobs and apprenticeship placements in fields such as accounting and finance, business administration, mechanical engineering and the police. 

“Everyone is keen to put the pandemic behind us, but not enough has been said about the negative impact faced by this cohort who had never before sat a public exam and who faced the brutal return of high-grade boundaries in order to dramatically reduce grade inflation.

"With that in mind, we are therefore incredibly proud of all our young people; whatever their destination, we know they will all go on to achieve remarkable success, and we wish them well.”

Elsewhere at Cinderford's Gloucestershire College, the first cohort of T Level students - the technical equivalent of A Levels - achieved 100 per cent pass rates, well above the national average of 90.5 per cent. 

At Wyedean, staff said they “couldn’t be more proud” of what their students achieved given the disruption to their education caused by the pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “In 2023, it is easy to forget how much this year group’s education and wellbeing was impacted by COVID lockdowns. This culminated in them missing the opportunity to sit formal GCSE exams two years ago. Despite no prior external assessments, they are also the first-year group sitting exams in England since COVID to have not had any additional concessions, for example, lower grade boundaries or advanced paper information." 

Laura Watkins, Assistant Principal and Director of Sixth form at Wyedean, said: “Huge congratulations to all our Year 13 students on their fantastic results today. Our students have worked extremely hard over the last two years and have continuously shown their commitment, resilience and motivation towards their studies which has enabled them to achieve their own individual success today.

"For some the journey has been more difficult than others, overcoming obstacles and facing challenges with determination. We are extremely proud of their positive approach towards studying and their own personal journey.”

Hartpury College students achieved an overall A-level pass rate of 98.4 per cent - higher than the 97.2 per cent national pass rate for 2023.

BTEC diploma students also excelled, with “a large proportion” achieving a Distinction grade profile and an overall 99.4 per cent pass rate.

Claire Whitworth, Deputy Principal at Hartpury College, said: “I would like to congratulate all of our students and staff on their hard work, dedication, and focus over the last two years, which is reflected in the fantastic grades they have achieved.

"These results are even more of an accomplishment when you consider that this cohort of students had their GCSEs impacted by the pandemic. Each and every student should be proud of their achievements.

"As ever, I’d like to thank the parents and carers who provided invaluable support throughout the year to make these successes a reality."