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!!”
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.
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!”
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.