A-level joy for 6th graders in Wales after ‘difficult years’ |  A-levels

A-level joy for 6th graders in Wales after ‘difficult years’ | A-levels

There were plenty of tears, but they were mostly the good, happy, relieved ones from sixth-year pupils at Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, a secondary school in the north Wales city of Caernarfon.

Despite the fact that two years of studies were interrupted by the Covid pandemic, which meant very little real-life experience to take an exam, the 56 students achieved 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 hallway under a Welsh flag banner and found she had three A*s. She means that he can study English literature later at Bangor University. “There have been some staffing issues, some days lost due to Covid, but it worked out fine in the end.”

catrin lloyd
Catrin Lloyd: ‘It has worked well’. Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian

Osian McGuinness leaves for the University of Manchester to study history and French after earning three A*s. She had checked with Ucas (the University and College Admissions Service) on her way to school to see if she had her place. “I tried not to, but I couldn’t stop myself,” she said. “It has been a difficult few years due to Covid, especially when we were studying online. We didn’t take the GCSEs 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 came out of each one not being able to get a sense of how I’d done.” He finished with an A* and two Aces and is leaving to study medicine at Cardiff.

Osian McGuinness celebrates with his fellow students.
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 scurried into a corner, some struggling to open their envelope because their hands were shaking so badly.

Named after a pioneer of Welsh higher education born in nearby Anglesey, the school teaches in English and Welsh. The director, Clive Thomas, said he was delighted with the results. “It’s been really difficult with sick staff and students and the school having to close at times. But the students have persevered and taken it seriously and really pulled it off at the end of two very challenging years.”

Thomas said it seemed more students than usual were going to universities in England, such as Manchester and Liverpool, rather than staying in Wales, perhaps because of the Labour-led government’s Seren Network, designed to help the brightest students. to reach their potential.

Welsh Language and Education Minister Jeremy Miles praised the strength of this year’s cohort. “I have been talking to employers about the experience of these students and I am very confident that employers will see this group of young people as people who have had a uniquely challenging experience and who have shown great resilience, great strength, the ability to being entrepreneurs, team players, all the things that employers value highly.”

There has been concern that Welsh has been hit hard by Covid, with lockdowns driving pupils away from places like schools where the language is spoken. Miles said the Welsh results were good, but the number of people taking the test was smaller than he wanted. “We are working hard 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 salon, Faye Reynolds was satisfied with her three A’s and one C and plans to take a year off traveling before studying drama. “Everyone has done amazingly well,” she said. “I am very proud of everyone.”

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

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