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Following three national lockdowns and two extended school closures, this has been another very challenging year for all students and the significant disruption to education has been felt most by those who should have taken their final exams this summer. However, Ilkley Grammar School has a long track record of academic excellence and this year, despite the difficulties faced as a result of the global pandemic, is no different. Our students have achieved incredibly well across the full range of A-Level and Level 3 qualifications and almost all have secured grades which have enabled them to successfully progress to their chosen university, apprenticeship or employment.

With half of all grades at A/A*, the percentage of students achieving the top grades is at a record high, with the percentage of students achieving A*-B (71%), A*-C (90%) and an overall pass rate of 99.9% almost matching the post-16 outcomes of the previous record year of 2017. As usual, there were some outstanding individual performances including 32 students who achieved 3 or 4 grades at A* or distinction* in their full A-Level or BTEC courses.  In a year when fewer offers were made by Oxford and Cambridge, a record 7 students secured their Oxbridge offers: Reuben Baldwin (History – Cambridge); Gina Remmer (Spanish and Portuguese – Oxford); Head student Emma Whitaker-Pitts (Modern and Medieval Languages – Cambridge); Brodie Gibson (Veterinary Medicine – Cambridge) and 3 students, Polly Bridges, Izzy Matear and Ben Radick who will read Natural Sciences at Cambridge. In addition, four students secured their places at medical school: Sumaiyah Shah (Medicine and Surgery – Lancaster University), James Redman (Medicine at the University of Leicester) and Jamie Sykes and Ella Hammond who will both study Medicine at the University of Manchester. Students also secured high profile apprenticeships including Ollie Ham with KPMG, Alice Bourgeois who has achieved a Logistics Degree apprenticeship with Morrisons and Hazel Potter who starts an Agency Sales and Partnerships apprenticeship with Channel 4.

Many students also made exceptional progress including: Tom Jackson (Economics – Lancaster University); Arthur Turner (Mechanical Engineering – University of Sheffield); Rachael Chadwick (Curating and Art History – University of York); Josh Price (Business Economics – University of Liverpool); Ide Gale-Coleman (Fashion Buying and Merchandising – University of Manchester) and Briony Healy who is taking a gap year.

This year, following the cancellation of public examinations, grades have been awarded by teachers using a much wider evidence base, assessed against national criteria and quality assured by the examination boards. This has included end of course assessments sat in controlled conditions in classrooms, alongside key pieces of classwork and coursework from across the two-year courses, rather than performance being solely based on a snapshot on the day a student sits an exam. Whilst the assessment arrangements have been different, all grades have been awarded using a robust and accurate evidence base so that students, parents and the wider public can be confident in the credibility of the qualifications, knowing that the grades accurately reflect their demonstrated knowledge and understanding.

 

Carly Purnell, Headteacher stated, “Students have shown tremendous tenacity in dealing with the uncertainty and disruption over the last 18 months and should be very proud of their individual and collective achievements. Their fantastic outcomes are a direct result of their hard work, resilience and commitment, alongside the quality of teaching, pastoral care and career guidance on which we pride ourselves at IGS, and the support and encouragement provided at home by parents and families. We congratulate the class of 2021 on both their academic success and the strength of character which they have shown. We also thank our staff for their tireless work and dedication in supporting students and this year’s grading process and acknowledge and appreciate the importance of ongoing support from parents/carers in the face of unique and challenging circumstances.”

“We are incredibly proud of this remarkable group of young people and the success which has been achieved at all levels. Whilst securing places at Oxbridge is a tremendous accolade, it is only one measure of our success. We are equally proud of all of our post-16 students, many of whom will now pursue their talents and interests at university in courses as diverse as Biological Sciences and Biomedical Genetics, Ecology and Conservation, Politics and International Relations, Archaeology and Ancient Civilisations, Computer Science, Midwifery and Nursing, Chemical and Mechanical Engineering, Translation and Interpreting, Criminology, Musical Theatre and Linguistics or on competitive apprenticeships with national and local companies.

Whatever our students’ next steps, we wish them all the very best for a happy and successful future and look forward to celebrating with them more formally at our Year 13 Presentation Evening in early January.”

Jamie Gutch, Director of Post-16 stated, “Many from this year group were in year 7 when I first joined the school in 2015 and Mrs Pickard and I also worked with them in Key Stage 4 before moving into Post-16. It has been an absolute privilege to continue with them on their journey over the past two years, to also get know those who joined us in year 12, and to witness the incredible resilience they have all shown in the face of so much uncertainty. Every single grade achieved this year has been well-earned through hard work and dedication. These outstanding results are arguably a more accurate reflection of students’ knowledge and understanding as they have drawn on a more robust evidence base than a single set of exams. I would like to thank the Post-16 team, especially Josh Sykes and Harriet Miller, senior colleagues and the staff at IGS for their remarkable work over the past two years and in particular for their support in designing and delivering the grading process in recent months.”

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