As GCSE students wait anxiously for results day tomorrow (Thursday) hundreds of pupils across Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas are celebrating after receiving their A-level results last week – the first cohort to sit exams since 2019 due to the Covid pandemic.

Last Thursday’s (August 18) results were for students who began studying for A-levels in September 2020 – in the midst of the pandemic that led to remote learning and other disruptions for pupils.

Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Shellina Prendergast, said: “For many students, this will have been the first time they have sat public exams, having missed out on their GCSE qualifications two years ago.”

Grades across the UK have dropped from pandemic highs, but remain above 2019 levels, with girls still outperforming boys and geography pushing English literature out of the top 10 most popular subjects.

The proportion of entries graded A* to E – fell by 1.1 per cent from 99.5 per cent in 2021 to 98.4 per cent this year.

University admissions have also fallen on last year, but are the second highest on record, according to Ucas figures.

In Southeast England, 39.5 per cent of marks were A* and A, compared to 47.1 per cent in 2021 and 28.3 per cent in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Local schools normally release pass rates and top-mark percentages, but such details have been harder to come by this year, in recognition of the transition back toward pre-pandemic grading.

Instead, many school leaders stressed their students’ resilience and the work of teachers to support students and keep them on track.

‘For many students, this will have been the first time they have sat public exams, having missed out on their GCSE qualifications two years ago’

Craig Fleming, the head of sixth form for the Skinners’ School in Tunbridge Wells, said on results day last Thursday (August 19): “Today has been an outstanding day of achievement for our students who have come through the last several years of secondary education and for the first time ever, have had to sit public exams.

“They’ve proved themselves to be determined, able and have shown a considerable amount of resilience to achieve an outstanding set of results.”

Some schools did however quantify results.

St Gregory’s Catholic School in Tunbridge Wells (pictured right) said one fifth of its students had achieved A*-A grades at A Level and over half the grades achieved were A*-B.

“Nine out of ten students gained A*-C grades and for BTEC qualifications, the overall pass rate is 100 per cent,” a spokesperson said.

Bennett Memorial School in Tunbridge Wells said 65 per cent of all A-Levels taken were passed with grades A*-B, and 90 per cent were passed with grades A*-C.

Beechwood School said it had a pass rate of 99 per cent and 72 per cent of grades being A*-C.

Deputy head teacher Paul Kershaw said 75 per cent of Beechwood students had gained places in their first choice University.

Kent College Pembury, also an independent school, said nearly 15 per cent of students achieved three or more A*s, while almost a third achieved straight A* and A grades. Over half of all grades awarded were A*-A.