Students at Bede Academy in Blyth successfully overcame a challenging two years with large numbers of students achieving places at university, including Oxbridge and Russell Group, despite increased national competition for fewer places.
Andrew Thelwell, Bede Academy principal, said: “We are delighted with the range of superb results achieved by our students this year, particularly given the challenges faced by this year group due to the pandemic.
“Despite not having sat GCSE exams in 2020, these students have worked with incredible tenacity to give their best and they deserve the successes that they have achieved. Teachers have been delighted with the hard work, superb ability and commitment shown across all subject areas. We are immensely proud of their achievements and wish them all the very best as they embark on new challenges whether at university, higher level apprenticeships or careers.”
Among the success were an increased number of students securing places at Cambridge University compared to previous years with Andrew Cooke going to Pembroke College to study history and politics and Jasmine Armitageachieving a place to read history.
Andrew, who gained A*s in maths and physics and an A in history, set his sights on Cambridge some time ago. “In some ways it helped me focus especially after being able to go there before my exams when I made it a real target, but at the same time it was a pressure.”
He said the year group in Bede’s sixth form had become closer due to the challenges they had faced together.
“I was quite lucky in that, other than the lockdowns, I didn’t miss too much but it was strange adjusting back in. The biggest challenge was getting back into a routine, but people really pulled together. Both staff and students have supported each other and got us to the place where we wanted to be.”
Andrew, who played Gavroche in the academy production of Les Miserables, and plays violin, saxophone, piano and sings in choir, was praised by his parents Lucy and Tim for his work ethic.
Lewis Johnson gained results significantly beyond what he needed to take up a place with Deloitte on a coveted four-year degree level apprenticeship. He went through five stages of interviews and applications to secure one of only around four places with Deloitte out of thousands of applicants.
He achieved three A* grades in business, geography and maths and made the choice to forego university offers to go straight into a fast-track work environment and get ahead in his field.
“It’s been a very busy time, hard work and lots of late nights. I prepared very well, starting four months early. The academy has been great and there were lots of opportunities to get help if you needed it. I’m buzzing with my results,” he said.
Student Evlina Emad Abbas joined Bede Academy as a Kurdish refugee from Syria four years ago at the age of 15, escaping the war to come to the UK with her mum and younger sisters Arya and Kristina.
Evlina spoke no English when she arrived yet achieved a B grade in art, a C in design technology and a merit in BTec engineering and has a place to study architecture at Liverpool University.
“It’s been great but also challenging,” she said. “I had to learn the language, did not do GCSEs and then there was Covid so I had to do a lot myself. I have enjoyed my time here. All my teachers have been so nice to me and helped me a lot.
“I love art and I want to do architecture because I want to help people and make places safe for them and to build a better world.”
Alongside A Levels, students achieved impressive successes in applied general courses. Five girls – Lauren Dixon, Lena Savoy, Elouise Stafford, Mya Hood and Britney Knox –accumulated seven distinction* grades and seven distinctions between them. All five are progressing into their first choice university courses to prepare them for their chosen career: Lauren is studying nursing; Lena, occupational therapy; Elouise, midwifery; Mya, sport and exercise science and Britney, social work.
Twins Jordan and Joshua Spurr moved to Bede Academy in Year 8 after their family relocated to Blyth from the south. They have secured one distinction*, four grade As and one grade B between them. Jordan will now move to Leeds University to study mechanical engineering and Joshua will study biomedical science at Newcastle University.