Students and staff at Westminster Kingsway College have been celebrating success today, as students received their A Level and BTEC results.
Today’s results follow two years of disrupted teaching, online lessons and uncertainty caused by the COVID pandemic. And, because the pandemic meant their GCSEs had been cancelled in 2020, these A Levels were the first formal exams that this group of students had ever sat – making their achievements all the more impressive.
In all, 267 WestKing students received A Level results – in a wide range of subjects from Biology to Business and from Physics to Philosophy. 86% of students’ grades were passes, which is an improvement on 2019, the last time any students sat summer exams. In addition, 100% of the college’s students passed their exams in English Literature, Further Mathematics, Media Studies, and Spanish, and Intensive A Levels in English Literature, History and Politics.
One of the students who passed English Literature is 19 year old Vevina Weldu, who was delighted with her A in English literature and B grades in Psychology and Philosophy. She is off to the University of Southampton in September to study Marketing and has had a great time at WestKing. “I loved it. The teachers really help you to move forward and it’s been enjoyable here.”
Millie Croos from Edgware in north London was thrilled with her grades, getting A* in Psychology and Biology and an A in Chemistry. She said: “I want to work in neuroscience, so I am going to Manchester to do an integrated master’s degree in Neuroscience – it’s a four-year course. Neuroscience is all related to the brain and I will have different career options including in artificial intelligence or working with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s.
“My teachers have been brilliant. Angela Stewart was my tutor and my Chemistry teacher and was the best teacher ever. Natalie Sanderson taught Psychology and I really feel that I owe her my grade!”
Another very happy student is Ossie Crick, who couldn’t have done any better than the three A* grades that he achieved in English Literature, History and Politics. His achievement is particularly notable because all three subjects were Intensive A Levels, meaning that Ossie studied for just one year. “It was hard work” he said. “I was too busy studying during the year to have a job, but I was still able to have a social life. But I stuck with it and am surprised with how well I did.
“I did a lot of self-learning, but my teachers – Andrew Edwards and Arifa Hafiz – were great and they really care for their students. I have a place at Manchester University to study History and Politics and my success is thanks to them.”
For many of our students, studying at WestKing is much more than learning the curriculum and preparing for exams. Many are the first member of their family to study A Levels or apply to university, so they and their families don’t always have the knowledge and understanding of how the system works, or how to navigate it.
So, the college’s form tutors and subject teachers, student support teams, careers advisors and enrichment staff guide and advise students and help them achieve their potential. This support takes many forms, and includes wellbeing, mental health advice and pastoral care, as well as study guidance, workshops, CV training, work placements with employers, talks from industry figures and employers, paid internships and – depending on the course – experiences like trips to businesses, art galleries and museums. These enrichment opportunities support students’ academic studies and really make a difference to their chances of success.
The Career Ready programme is one example of the amazing support available to students at the college. The programme helps students prepare for higher education and work, and includes a wide range of enrichment opportunities including workshops and advice, professional mentors, as well as internships and placements with blue-chip firms.
Saffron Devonish Wint passed her A Levels in Business, Politics and Psychology and took advantage of the opportunities available to her. As WestKing’s Carlo Liu explains, “Saffron worked incredibly hard. She was selected for the Career Ready Programme and did so well on it, that she was also nominated for their national Student of the Year award.
Saffron has been offered a degree apprenticeship with Unilever and told us: “I wouldn’t have got my degree apprenticeship without the support I had from the college and from my Career Ready mentor.”
Also getting their results today were the college’s BTEC students. In contrast to the mostly academic A Levels, a BTEC is a more practical qualification. It helps many young people gain vital knowledge and experience, as well as – for those who pass with a distinction – earning enough UCAS points to get into university.
18 year-old Orla McLaughlin aced her BTEC Level 3 in Music Performance & Music Production, achieving a Distinction. “The facilities are really nice”, she says. “There’s a theatre where you can do performances at the end of each term. We’ve got production rooms and studios. We also get talks and advice from people in the music industry – proper artists – who come in and give us talks.” Orla is off to study Music and Psychology with honours at Liverpool University and she is really excited for the future.
Behind these successes and many others, are often stories of triumph over adversity. Many of our students have overcome personal and emotional setbacks to keep studying for their A Levels and BTECs and – regardless of their final grades – just completing their courses and sitting their exams is a huge achievement.
As Shirley Wong, Curriculum Manager for A Levels, explained, “We have students who are living in care, or have been in care – one of whom is hoping to study Sanskrit at Oxford University. We also have young refugees and others who have caring responsibilities at home.”
“But one student in particular stands out for me. She has overcome extreme health issues over the past two years, undergoing several operations, suffering personal bereavement, moving home and working outside of college. She is hoping to get into university and is a remarkable young lady. Her positive attitude and diligence have been remarkable and it has been a pleasure to see her grow into such a capable young person.”
WestKing’s Vice Principal Jas Sondhi said: “So many of our learners have had to overcome huge challenges to get to this point and I want to congratulate all of them on their achievements in their A Levels and BTECs today.
“Our learners have been resilient and have worked very hard under extremely difficult circumstances, and I am particularly pleased with how they’ve faced the challenges of the last two years with a real sense of purpose and dignity. They have their whole lives ahead of them and I know they will go onto do great things and contribute to the common good.
“I also want to thank our students’ parents and carers, for the love and support they give to their children, as well as the wonderful group of teaching and support staff here at WestKing. They are a great team and they make this college such a fantastic and inspiring place to study.”
Westminster Kingsway College is part of Capital City College Group (CCCG), which also comprises City and Islington College, and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, as well as Capital City College Training – the Group’s specialist apprenticeships and training provider.
Kurt Hintz, Executive Principal of Capital City College Group said: “I would like to congratulate all our A Level students on an excellent set of results this year. Their studies were hugely impacted by the COVID pandemic, and it is a tribute to their hard work and resilience that they have achieved the grades they deserve and are now set to progress onto the universities, employers and apprenticeships they planned for.
“I would also like to thank our teachers and support staff for their dedication and relentless support to students in what has been the most challenging period to be a teacher in living memory.
“I wish all our students collecting their results today the very best for the future.”
It isn’t too late for you to enrol at WestKing for courses starting in September. Find out more about our courses and enrol here.
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.