Students in Harborough celebrate amazing GCSE results to cap an extraordinary end to their time at the school

The Harborough Mail's Red Williams and Andrew Carpenter went to Welland Park Academy to speak to the pupils

By Red Williams
Friday, 21st August 2020, 11:29 am
Students celebrate their GCSE results at Welland Park Academy.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Students celebrate their GCSE results at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Ecstatic students at Market Harborough’s Welland Park Academy are celebrating top-notch GCSE results to cap an extraordinary end to their time at the school.

Excited teenagers spoke to the Harborough Mail minutes after being awarded their all-important grades by teacher assessment at the leading school on Thursday.

Scores of buzzing youngsters and their parents met up with teachers outside by the school field in bright summer sunshine as principal Julie McBrearty hailed an “excellent set of GCSE results”.

Students celebrate their GCSE results at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Welland Park’s head girl Eve Townsley, 16, of Market Harborough, told the Mail: “I’m absolutely thrilled.

“I’ve got eight 9s and an 8 – which is amazing.

“This is exactly what I was hoping for.

“I’m now going to go on to do A-levels in German, Spanish and history at WQE College in Leicester so I’ve a lot to look forward to.”

Students celebrate their GCSE results at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

The brilliant student said she hadn’t attended school since it closed before the Covid-19 lockdown in late March.

“It was nerve-wracking at the beginning.

“I didn’t know for a long while how we were going to get our grades,” said Eve.

“But I felt so much better once we were told they would be based on what our teachers had given us.”

Proud...Ben Bransby 15 celebrates with mum Madie during GCSE results at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Her friend Matthew Reeves, 16, of Market Harborough, was also flying high after clocking up six 9s, two 8s and a 7.

“It’s been a worrying time but I’ve always had faith in our teachers to get it right.

“I think I’d have got about the same results if we had sat our exams as usual this year,” he said.

“So I’m very happy.

Charlotte Hyman and Lily Ingall both 16 celebrate their GCSE results at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“What ever has gone on over the last few days over A-level results at least the Government has listened and changed its mind.

“So I’m grateful for that.

“I want to go on and do geography, history and biology A-levels now before doing ecology or zoology at York University.”

Smiling from ear to ear, student superstar Kesia Floyd, 16, of Market Harborough, said: “I have been awarded nine 9s!

“It’s perfect.

“I suspected I might get 8s in French and maths so it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Class act...Kesia Floyd, Matthew Reeves and Eve Townsley celebrate their GCSE results at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

The stellar student admitted it had been a very confusing time as under-fire Education Secretary Gavin Williamson scrapped the controversial algorithm system earlier this week days after fury erupted over A-level results.

“I have been very confused over how we were going to be awarded our grades.

“We should have had a lot more clarity,” insisted Kesia.

“It seemed at one point that the whole system was changing every hour.”

Matthew added: “My sister’s boyfriend had set his heart on going up to Oxford University with her.

“But he can’t go now after his A-level grades were marked down so it’s a big blow.”

Ben Bransby, who turns 16 on Sunday August 23, said: “It’s going to be a very happy birthday for me at the weekend because I’ve done very well.

“I’ve been handed two 9s, six 8s and two 7s – which is better than I expected.”

Asked how he’s coped with the immense stress of an unprecedented year dominated by the coronavirus, cool Ben replied: “I should have been a lot more worried than I was.

“I didn’t think about it for a very long time.

“I was watching what was happening in the news.

“But I thought I’d be fine – and I knew the teachers would get it right.”

But his furious mum Madie Bransby, 47, said: “The whole thing has been a lottery, a mess.

“You can’t print what I really think about what’s gone on.

“I feel awful for the poor kids and what they’ve had to go through.”

A mum-of-three, care worker Madie added: “I’m thrilled for Ben.

“But I’m very angry about the way this has been handled by the Government.

“They should have released the A-level results a month early to allow time for all the appeals.

“I was just relieved when the Government decided to award grades based on teacher assessment.

“It’s been a tough enough year for students as it is without all this.

“I’ve got two children younger than Ben so I just hope they don’t have to go through all of this as well.”

Julie McBrearty, who leads the 1,000-pupil academy on Welland Park Road, said: “We have had a very good set of results among our 210 students leaving the school.

“Our pupils have performed very well for the last couple of years.

“And this year has maintained that high standard, being right up to the mark.

“I am very proud of all of our staff and students – they’ve been excellent.

“And now we are all raring to go for the next session and the new academic year.”

Talking about how results were awarded, Julie said: “Our staff have spent many hours making sure our grading system was fair and robust.

“None of our grades have been over-inflated – and I’ve seen them all.

“Some students haven’t even got a standard pass because that’s just the way of the world.

“After the turbulence of the A-level results last week there was definite anxiety.

“So I and everyone else were very pleased when the Government reverted to using just teacher-assessed grades for the GCSEs.”

She said switched-on teachers knew the GCSE system and curriculum inside out – as well as their pupils.

“We went into lockdown and shut in March just two months before youngsters were due to sit their exams in May.

“It wasn’t as if we closed last September,” declared Julie.

“Many of our teachers are examiners themselves and they know exactly how to mark papers and how to grade their students.”

The school’s principal said they are now looking forward and gearing up to re-opening from Monday August 24 to kickstart the 2020-2021 academic year.

“We’ll have a teachers’ day on Monday.

“We will bring back year groups day by day – and they’ll all be back in by Friday August 28,” said Julie.

“It’s a very exciting prospect after such a strange few months.

“We are aware that there will be gaps in some students’ educational levels after such a long time away.

“Our teachers are adapting the curriculum to take account of that.

“But it will be great to get everyone back in to school face to face once again.

“We’ll also be putting into place strict operational procedures, such as hand sanitisers and social distancing, to make Welland Park as safe an environment as we can for all of us.”

Students celebrate their GCSE results at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER