Scores of fired-up youngsters celebrated getting top-notch GCSE results at Welland Park Academy in Market Harborough today (Thursday).
Nerves were jangling and hearts were beating faster as students started to gather outside the school on Welland Park Road well before the doors opened at 9am.
And you could hear the excited hubbub a mile away as dozens of buzzing pupils burst into the main hall to pick up the all-important results they’ve been waiting for all summer.
Just minutes after being handed her glorious set of marks awarded by her teachers, shell-shocked Hayleigh, 16, told the Harborough Mail: “I don’t believe it – I’ve got a clean sweep of grade 9s!
“I sat 10 GCSEs – and I’ve been awarded 9s in every subject.
“I don’t know what to say.
“I really thought I’d get a range of scores – from 6s to 9s.
“But this is just astonishing,” said Hayleigh, of Market Harborough.
“This is massive, the biggest day of my life.
“I only slept two hours on Tuesday night, I’ve been that nervous!
“I’m going on to do A-levels in biology, chemistry, maths and further maths at Beauchamp City sixth form in Leicester now and I can’t wait.”
Standing just feet away as the sun shone down out on the packed school field, Chris, 15, of Market Harborough, said: “I’ve collected 8s and 9s – and I’m very happy with that.
“It’s been a very weird 18 months or so because of the Covid pandemic.
“I’ve just tried to stay in contact with as many people as possible and keep it as normal as I can.
“I’m preparing now to do A-levels in computer science, maths and economics at WQE College in Leicester,” added Chris, one of the youngest students in the year.
“So there’s a lot to look forward to.”
His good friend Emma, 16, also of Market Harborough, told the Mail: “I’m delighted, I’ve got everything I wanted.
“It’s been an extremely strange time for all of us and I’m just pleased that it’s all done now.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of our teachers here at Welland Park.
“They’ve always been there when we needed them – and they really have gone the extra mile for us,” stressed Emma.
“My brother James got his A-level results this week too – he got two As and an A* - so it’s been a hectic week in our house!”
Looking on, Corin, 16, said: “I’ve picked up six 9s, two 8s and a 7 so I’m thrilled.
“It’s been difficult and nerve-wracking because it’s been such an uncertain time – we didn’t know what was coming next at times.
“We have done exams set by the school although in a reduced format.
“We’ve had to work very hard day in day out and we’ve all totally earned the grades we’ve been given.”
Budding football starlet Phoebe, 16, said: “It’s not been easy to focus on doing all our GCSE work while there have so many other challenges during the pandemic and all the lockdowns.
“Learning at home is so hard.
“Our teachers here and our families have been very supportive and we owe them all our thanks,” said Emma, who’s moving on to do A-levels in chemistry, law and history at Loughborough College.
“I’m a right-winger for Leicester City women’s club and I want to get into the first-team.
“So I’m working flat out at my studies while I’m also determined to try and make it at the highest level playing football too.”
Speaking to the Mail as students and parents buzzed around, Julie McBrearty, the head of Welland Park Academy, said: “We’ve had another excellent set of GCSE results this year.
“We have 170 students doing their GCSEs this year – and I’m incredibly proud of them all.
“They have got their heads down and worked so hard during an extraordinary time that none of us has seen before in this country.
“I also salute our teachers and staff for coming together to teach pupils at home and support them every step of the way,” said Julie.
“We were told in January that there would be no exams for this year’s GCSE cohort.
“Our pupil assessments have been subjected to rigorous moderation, both internally and externally.
“This has been a very robust procedure – and the youngsters fully deserve the grades they’ve been awarded.
“Our students have shown incredible resilience in the face of such massive adversity and we wish them all well as so many now go on to study for their A-levels.”
Delighted Dan Cleary, the principal of Robert Smyth Academy on Burnmill Road, Market Harborough, told the Mail: “We opened up at 8.30am today and the scenes of joy and jubilation here have been simply amazing.
“We have 146 GCSE pupils – and we are celebrating a fantastic set of results across the board.
“This has been a very special day.
“These kids have come all the way through here at Robert Smyth from Year 7 and I can’t lavish enough praise upon them,” said Dan.
“There was such a buzz, so many happy smiling faces.
“Kids were screaming, running up and down Burnmill Road, punching the air and doing chest bumps!
“Getting their results today and finding out how they’ve done is just such a release and a relief for them after all the pent-up tension and nerves.
“This is a truly unique event in their lives.
“One of the overwhelming things today has been the sheer outpouring of love towards us at the school from grateful parents,” added Dan.
“Their words of support and huge encouragement mean so much to us.
“It’s been lovely to see mums and dads with their children, sharing in these magical moments in the dazzling morning sunshine.
“We’ve all got to put this year’s GCSE results in perspective and not compare them to previous cohorts because this year has obviously been so different, so tough.
“Both our students and staff have had to battle massive disruption that no other generation in our nation’s history has had to do.
“We are very lucky in Market Harborough that we have so many intelligent, focused, determined, hard-working kids – and we are so proud of each and every one of them.”