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Black students' joy at A-Level success

THRILLED: Two students can't believe their eyes after opening their results envelopes

SCORES OF black students across the UK are celebrating top results following recent A-Level examinations, despite national uncertainty over the new specifications. These changes have seen the reformation of 13 subjects and scrapping of coursework in favour of modular exams. As a result, further education studies are harder and the overall pass rate has declined.

However, national figures show that 26.3 per cent of A-Level entries scored an 'A*' or 'A' this summer, up 0.5 per cent on 2016. It is the first time the 'A*'-'A' pass rate has risen since 2011 and, with that, several predominantly black and ethnic minority colleges are celebrating much higher A-Level pass rates this year.

Among the institutions celebrating is Christ the King Sixth Form College. Jemima Demi-Ejegi, 18, studied A-Level Biology, Chemistry and Maths at the St. Mary’s campus in Sidcup, Kent, and will go on to study Medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. She achieved two 'A' grades – one in Biology and one in
Chemistry and a 'B' grade in Maths.

Demi-Ejegi said of her success:

“I’ve been having sleepless nights, but now I am so happy and grateful to God – I am so happy all the hard work has paid off. I feel that all my effort has been worth it to achieve my goal and I can become a doctor.

“Christ the King has given me the opportunity to be the best that I can be. I really feel I was offered the support I needed to get to study medicine. For example, the college paid for my Bio-Medical Admissions Test, which really allowed me to go on to do medicine. They also supported me to achieve well in this.

“Doing the Pre U in Year 12 was also vital as it improved my skills and helped me build my confidence.”


ACHIEVER: Jemima Demi-Ejegi, who is going on to Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Rob McAuliffe, newly appointed executive principal of the sixth form, said:

“I am so proud of all of our staff and students. At each of the three colleges that form Christ the King, our students have achieved at or above national benchmarks. This is excellent news. The combination and achievement of young people in this part of south east London is to be celebrated.

“At Christ the King, our targeted approach to learning and study ensures we harness our students’ ambition and support their success. We are very happy with these results.”

City and Islington College, known for its ethnically diverse student body, continues to hold steady with a 96.3 per cent pass rate.

One of its students, Danielle Famiyesin, will go on to study Sociology at the University of Warwick after achieving the grades she needed in Media Studies, Government and Politics, and Sociology. She said:

“I want to be a lawyer, and the experience that I was able to gain by working with one of the college’s partnership organisations, Legal Action Group, was so helpful. The support I got from staff at the college and Legal Action Group was amazing and they really encouraged me to pursue a career as a lawyer.”

Another student, Shantelle Awofadeju, earned top grades in Maths, Biology and Chemistry and accepted a place at the University of Manchester to read Medicine.

“I want to be a doctor and the college helped me get work experience in a hospital. Being able to work in the hospital gave me a realistic expectation of working as a doctor and gave me the confidence to pursue it as a career,” she said.

Anna Douglas, Principal, said:

“These results are testimony to the hard work of our students and teachers. Many of them will now begin another exciting chapter in their lives at universities across London and the rest of the country.

“We wish them well in their journey ahead.”

IMPROVEMENT

Meanwhile, NewVic Sixth Form College has seen a 98 per cent pass rate with this year’s A-Level results. This is a one per cent increase from last year, and the college’s best record to date.

Principal Eddie Mayfair told The Voice:

“We’re very pleased – it’s a steady improvement. It is nice to be able to celebrate a record in our jubilee year – the history of the college has really been one of success and improvement over those 25 years.”

Minority ethnic groups are more likely to live in lower income households, creating a number of obstacles in terms of attainment across various capacities. Often, it is a case of working twice as hard, for just as much.


WELL DONE: A mother relays good news about her daughter’s results

20-year-old student Bibiree Baykeens achieved 'A*', 'A*', 'A' in Maths, Biology and Chemistry, and has accepted a place at Plymouth University to study Medicine. Having migrated to the UK from Nigeria in 2004, the hard working student spoke of the dedication and perseverance that it took to realise her academic aspirations. She said:

“I feel elated because the exams were quite challenging, given the new specification. I’m also glad to tell my parents because of all the sacrifices they have made. That made me happier. It’s been a struggle – not only settling into a new country, but also financially. We’re a family of five, so I’ve always made a promise to myself to have a good future and work hard to put myself in the best place.

“Medicine is competitive and is known to be filled-up with people from really privileged backgrounds. Everything really seemed to be against me – black, female, from a lower socio-economic background.

DREAMS

“It can be daunting to have such big dreams but I always aim for the best. Even if I don’t achieve it, it’s going to be better than if I didn’t aim for the best. I want to instil that in my little sister and the best way to do that is by example.”


BRIGHT FUTURE: Bibiree Baykeens achieved two 'A*'s and an 'A', and is heading to Plymouth University to study Medicine

Gloria Kalunga could barely contain her excitement as she opened her envelope and was greeted with a dazzling 'A*' in Law. She said of her success:

“I’ve really come a long way. I haven’t had it easy academically. It’s been a lot of hard work, where I had to repeat my first year. I’m so happy that, after all of those years, it’s all paid off. I think it was down to time management and discipline over your studies.

“If you’re really passionate about achieving something, then there’s no reason for you to not get to where you want to be.”


EXCITEMENT: Gloria Kalunga is very happy with her 'A*' in Law

Shaniya Sampson Bah, a final year student who lives with a rare genetic disease – Fraser syndrome – gained a 'B' in Psychology, and distinctions in BTEC Health and Social Care and Forensic Science. She said:

“I am speechless – I am very proud of myself. My physical disability hindered me at times, and studying was difficult. I’ve been in A&E quite a lot this year. However, I’ve had so many supportive people around me, and my family have really helped me through this as well.”

She added:

“I took advantage of extra classes that the school gave, attended revision sessions and was always studying whenever I had the chance.

"I’d love to go into teaching and help other students like myself. I’ve had so many supportive teachers and it has made me want to do the same for other students, with even disabilities, to show them that they can achieve. I’m going to be studying Education and Sociology at the University of Birmingham.”


PLEASED: Shaniya Sampson Bah, who will study at the University of Birmingham

Students of Holyhead sixth form school, in Birmingham, have continued to excel – producing record-breaking grades this year. These include Lamisa Wiltshire, who earned 3 Distinction* grades in Events Management and will be heading to Manchester Metropolitan University.

National statistics reflect that boys are beating girls to top A-Level grades for the first time in 17 years – with 26.6 per cent of boys achieving 'A*' or 'A' grades, compared to just 26.1 per cent of girls. An example of this is young man Amani Wynter, who enrolled at Holyhead in September 2015, having attained poor grades at his old school and lost his place. He is now celebrating two Distinction* grades in BTEC Business and BTEC Personal and Business Finance and will read Psychology at the University of Leicester.

16-year-old Andrew Ejemai, from Brentwood School in Essex, will read Maths at Corpus Christi College, in University of Cambridge, having achieved Grade 1 in STEP II and III, 'A*' in Additional Further Maths and 'A's in the new Linear Chemistry and Economics. Back in 2013, Ejemai gained an 'A*' in his Maths A-level, aged just 12. He said:

“I am mostly grateful to God Almighty for helping me to achieve this great feat.

“I believe that without hard work, perseverance, parental and school support this would not have been possible.”

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