Students praised for ‘dedication and perseverance’ as 75% gain top grades in A Level results

Students at City and Islington College (CANDI) celebrated as they overcame the challenges of the COVID pandemic to achieve a fantastic set of A Level results.

CANDI saw 23.2 per cent of students attain A*-A grades and 75 per cent gain A* C grades, with many going on to leading Russell Group universities or degree apprenticeships.

Students did not sit exams this year due to COVID-19 with their grades being determined by teachers’ assessment of their actual evidence-based ability rather than predicted grades.

Among this year’s top performers was Lily Burge-Thomas, 18, who achieved four A*s in Art: Critical and Contextual Studies, Fine Art, Photography and her Extended Project Qualification. She is going to study Architecture at Cambridge University where her mum studied Classics.

Lily said: “I’m totally ecstatic. Honestly, after these difficult two years it feels like all the hard work has paid off, and I’m really excited to be going to Cambridge and continuing my educational journey.

“My teachers have been amazing and really supportive. I came from a school where they really pushed you very hard to CANDI where you had to push yourself and be a lot more self-driven. I don’t know if it was the tough love of my old school or the kindness and support at CANDI but I got the results.”

Eman Ahamed, 18, attained A*s in Maths and Further Maths and an A Computer Science after being rejected by several other colleges. He is going to study Mathematical Computerisation at UCL.

He said: “I’m really grateful to CANDI because they treated me as an individual and not as a just a statistic. From the moment they gave me a chance, I knew I had to take it, it was my turn I had to show my best.”  

Muhsin Mahmud, 18, gained three As in Politics, Media Studies and English Literature and Language and is heading to City, University of London to study Journalism.

He said: “I had a difficult time during COVID with some of my family members seriously ill and in hospital. My teachers were exceptional and it was a privilege to be taken under their wing. The assurances I received from them during that period of deep uncertainty really helped me through it.”

A Level results day also saw the release of results for vocational qualifications.

CANDI runs many vocational courses including Accounting, Animal Care, Art and Design, Beauty Therapy, Business, Childcare, Computing, Digital Media, Engineering, Fashion, Hairdressing, Health and Social Care, Music, Performing Arts, Public Services and Science.

Freddie Cook, 18, achieved a triple Distinction in his Public Services diploma and is going to the University of Greenwich to study Criminology with Criminal Justice.

He said: “I am looking to work in border security but also considering teaching public services after the positive experience I‘ve had at CANDI. I went through some tough times while studying and my teachers really helped give me the support I needed. For me, CANDI was like a second family.”

CANDI also offers English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, Access to Higher Education Diplomas, higher education study and free short courses.

All ESOL courses and vocational courses up to Level 2 are free.

CANDI is part of Capital City College Group (CCCG), which also comprises Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, and apprenticeship and training provide Capital City College Training.

This year CANDI launched a new hub offering A Levels at CONEL’s Enfield Centre and is taking applications now for the first cohort to start in September.

Kurt Hintz, Executive Principal of CCCG, said: “We are very proud of the great results of our students after such a disrupted and difficult two-year period. Our students have shown huge amounts of dedication, perseverance and resilience in adversity, which has prepared them well for their future university education and careers.

“We congratulate all of our students on their results and wish them well in their next steps. We would also like to give special thanks to our teachers and support staff who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to secure the life chances of their students.”

WestKing Students Receive Their A Level Grades in a ‘Unique Year’

Over 1,000 young people at Westminster Kingsway College – one of central London’s largest colleges – have today received their A Level and vocational course grades, in what has been a unique and very challenging year for them and their teachers. 

Since the college had to close in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the students – who have been taking a wide range of A Level subjects, as well as many who have been studying on practical, vocational courses with exam boards such as BTEC, UAL and City and Guilds – have completed their studies online. 

For the first time ever, students were unable to sit A Level exams in May. Instead, their grades were assessed by their teachers and submitted to exam boards, which then standardised the grades for each subject. 

Victoria Howarth, Curriculum Director for A Levels, Engineering and Science at WestKing, said: “We are always proud of our students’ achievements, but I am particularly proud of them this year, as it has been an exceptionally difficult one for them. When the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to shut our doors in March and teach all lessons online, the students responded magnificently and have really buckled-down to complete their studies. 

Our Students’ Stories

Nikola Banton is 18 and is celebrating achieving As in Business Studies, Sociology and Media Studies – better grades than she needed for her place at the University of Essex where she will study Social Work. 

She had been confused about how the grading process would work, but after she’d spoken to her teachers about it, they helped her to understand it. Nikola is full of praise for her teachers, telling us: “The teaching was good, especially sociology. As soon as we went to remote lessons, the teachers were quick to provide the resources for us to revise just in case we couldn’t access online lessons.  And on my Media course we were ahead of schedule when we went into lockdown, which helped too. 

Like thousands of young people today, Nikola was nervous before she got her results email from us. “I was OK until this morning, but woke up feeling anxious and nervous.  Now I’ve had my grades, it’s a relief. My mum was happy and has been calling everyone!!” 

Nikola Banton on A Level results day

Mykhaylo Koshutskyy is one of our older A Level students. Aged 22, he’s taken two 1-year A Level Intensives and achieved an A* in Mathematics and an A in Physics. He’s hoping to go to Cambridge University to study Engineering. 

Like many students, Mykhaylo had been concerned about the grading process, but was expecting the grades that he got. He told us: “I knew I did well in Maths and that Physics would be moderated, and I had been reading about the grade changes in Scotland, as well as the information released by Ofqual.  

“I had a brilliant teacher in Maths who has a very personal approach with every student, treating everyone as an individuals which was fantastic. Teaching was well planned too.” 

“I’ve worked hard. I did 12 hours studying a day and it was worth it despite my grades because of the knowledge I gained – for me, the grades don’t matter as much as what I have learned.” 

Pawa Shakir achieved A* grades in Politics and Sociology, and an A in Law.  She’s off to study Politics at City University in London. She told us: “My grades were as I expected. My mock exam grades were As and Bs. 

Student Pawa Shakir

Pawa is really happy with the support she received from the college through the lockdown. “I found studying online quite difficult, but we had great support from the college. It was a difficult time; we were in the middle of a pandemic and I missed my friends. I prefer face to face classes and the classroom environment. 

“Two weeks before we went into lockdown the college started preparing us. They provided everything that we needed, from papers to applications. They made sure that we had all downloaded Microsoft Teams and knew how to use it. By the time we went into lockdown we were fully prepared. They were very supportive.  

The unique way that students’ grades have been assessed this year has created uncertainty for many students. Victoria Howarth said: “We are an improving college and this year’s A Level results reflect the significant progress that we’ve made. We are delighted that more of our students received A*-C grades this year and we feel that WestKing is a really good choice for students who are looking to take A Levels or vocational courses in a large and vibrant sixth form in the heart of London. 

“While we are pleased with this year’s results, it would be fair to say that the grading and standardisation process has been a controversial one.  But regardless of this, our primary task is now to ensure that all our students can move on positively this year – whether that’s into another course with us, to university, or into a job or an apprenticeship. 

“That’s why we have had staff available online today and tomorrow to speak or live chat to any of our students who have questions or concerns about what their next steps might be.” 

The college also has a strong reputation for its vocational (work-related) qualifications, with thousands of students studying for qualifications across a wide range of subjects, from Applied Science and Engineering, to Hospitality, Performing Arts, Digital and Creative Media to Health and Social Care. Some students have already received their results, while others will be getting theirs over the next couple of weeks. 

But for our A Level students at least, the worrying and waiting about what their grades might be is over and many are in the mood for celebrating. As Pawa Shakir said: “I’m going to celebrate with cake!” 

More Information…

If you are a WestKing student and have concerns or questions about your grades, or if you want to contact us about your results, please visit our special results webpage

Note: this article was updated in late August, to reflect changes to students’ grades following the Government’s decision to accept Centre Assessed Grades.