A-Level results: City and Islington College pupils who battled against the odds to boost impressive haul of top grades

Hundreds of students from City and Islington piled in to the college to pick up their A Levels this

Hundreds of students from City and Islington piled in to the college to pick up their A Levels this morning - Credit: Archant

With a pass rate of 98 per cent, students at City and Islington made this year’s tougher A Level tests look easy.

Anxhela Gradeci

Anxhela Gradeci - Credit: Archant

But many today revealed how they faced personal battles which required extraordinary courage and strength to haul in top grades against the odds.

Chris Dacosta-Jackdeo

Chris Dacosta-Jackdeo - Credit: Archant

Anxhela Gradeci came to the UK as a refugee from Albania and says the move – as a result of political unrest in her home country – meant she was behind her peers for years, settling here while speaking no English.

However, the 18-year-old had caught up by secondary school and today celebrated receiving two A*s and two As in Biology, Maths, Chemistry and English.

She said: “The cultural and language barrier was really hard at first and I didn’t really start to catch up until I was in secondary school.

“At times it felt like you had to work a lot harder and that that barrier may never disappear, because you have more hurdles than other people.

“It does make it much more satisfying because I know I worked hard for these grades and at times had to work hard than other people, they haven’t just been given to me.

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“I think it just shows that here, in England, as long as you work hard, the grades you get will reflect how hard you’ve worked and nothing else.

“It was very nerve-wracking picking up my results this morning, but now it just feels great and I feel relieved.”

Miss Gradeci, who moved to the UK as a youngster, will start studying medicine at University College London in September.

Meanwhile, Chris Dacosta-Jackdeo bagged two As and one B in English, Sociology and Media – despite his father dying from a drawn-out illness last year.

The 19-year-old said: “I’m really glad I carried on. I know my dad would be proud of me. It was very difficult, but in a way it made me focus my mind and realise that I really had to do this.

“I could have easily given up, but it’s all worth it now. I tried to not let it get to me, he was ill for a long time so it was quite distracting, but getting these grades is more than I could have dreamed for.” Mr Dacosta-Jackdeo will now study English Language and Linguistics and Kent University.

Students overall at the college pulled in an impressive haul of top grades with 71 per cent from 1,628 entries achieving A* to C grades, with just under half achieving A* to Bs.

A total of 59 students scroed the highest possible A* grade, a feat which puts them in the top 10 per cent in the country for the subjects they took. Four pupils have been accepted to Oxford or Cambridge.

Essak Miah, 18, scored an A* and two As and has won a place to study Law at Cambridge University while being sponsored to do so by firm Trowers & Hamlins.

He said: “Today is a dream come true for me. I am very proud that I have made it into Cambridge as I come from a working class background. I want to try and break the myth that it’s only one type of person that goes, because I don’t think it is and I think there will be plenty more people like me going there.

“The college have supported me every step of the way and I could not have done it without them.”

Anurudha Roy, who came to City and Islington College from Mount Carmel school, achieved an A* and two As and is now set to study Civil Engineering at University College London.

She said: “I’m just so over the moon about my results. Civil engineering is a really male dominated industry which needs more women and hopefully I can change that a bit.”

Director of the Sixth Form College, Keren Abse, said: “I am pleased with another excellent year of results. Our students have done themselves proud.

“The results are a tribute to the hard work of our students and their teachers and I am pleased that so many students have got their first choice university place.”

Principal Frank McLoughlin said: “The A Level results that our students have achieved today show that there are fantastic opportunities at this college to learn, go to top universities and pursue rewarding careers. We congratulate all of our students and wish them the very best for the future.”