After a very busy and fraught year amidst exam specification changes and new grading systems we finally came to the defining moment of Results Day.
A levels were first and we were nervously awaiting the outcomes for our upper sixth students who were waiting to learn if they had secured their place at university. We needn’t have worried. Townley were once again the highest performing school in Bexley. 32% achieved A*/A and 68% A*/B and a clutch of A*s and A’s with students off to Russell Group Universities and Oxbridge in subjects as diverse as Art, Politics, Philosophy to Mechanical or Chemical Engineering an Mathematics. One of our top students reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at St John’s College, Oxford will be sharing classes with Malala!
GCSE results followed the next week and it couldn’t have been more nerve wracking. The press had done a very good job of raising anxiety levels and predicting disaster so students understandably were tense. This had been one of the hardest working year groups and certainly one of the most caring and compassionate so they deserved to do well but they had to tackle changed exam specs, the hardest GCSE’s ever and the new grading system with a very exclusive 9 grade at the very top.
The results were truly staggering! A 9% increase in A*A and equivalent grades 9-7 brought us 69% A*/A. 34% achieved the A* or 9-8 grade and 82% gained the English Baccalaureate. 79.4 % gained 5 or more A*A, up by 10% on the previous year. Infact everything had gone up at a time when the odds had never been more stacked against them.
For many schools that might be all there is to say but it has never been solely about the results. The figures are impressive but it is the people we remember. The individuals who cried with joy and relief on opening their results, the students who rushed to their teachers to thank them, the friends who waited to open results together and the honest and open hugs of congratulations and in some rare cases comfort. For me I have been struck again by the character of our students. Away from the stats and figures there have been the personal stories of struggle and success; students who had only learned English a few years previously and went on to be among our top performing students; the number of Pupil Premium students from disadvantaged backgrounds who were among our high achieving GCSE students and the near disasters avoided through sheer grit and determination; the parents who took the time to congratulate the school and the teachers and the staff who have been here to support these young lives.
However, the most compelling character trait I have witnessed in a school some would wrongly assume is privileged and elite is humility. I will remember the rather bashful and almost apologetic face of the student who clutched a paper full of A*s and A’s. Someone who has not yet grasped just how truly impressive she really is.
It has been a humbling experience.