'Covid gave me more time to learn': GCSE students reflect on pandemic

St. Aloysius’ College students celebrate the results of the GCSEs

St. Aloysius’ College students celebrate the results of the GCSEs - Credit: St. Aloysius’ College

Students were “elated” and “ecstatic” at St. Aloysius’ College, Archway as they received top GCSE results, including three who achieved ten grade 9s. 

Despite the challenging circumstances of the past year, 39 per cent of all grades were a 7 or above, and for the first time since the introduction of the numerical grading system, the students averaged above a 6 across all subjects. 

Headteacher Paula Whyte praised “the resilience and tenacity of the Year 11 students, complemented by the incredible support of experienced and passionate teachers”, and added that a “record number” of students would be continuing at St. Aloysius for sixth form. 

One of the students who achieved straight 9s, Berkay Benjamin Karakas, who hopes to study Medicine at university, told the Gazette: “I didn’t think this day would come after five years, it’s been a long time coming, but it’s so rewarding and satisfying.

“Although it sounds cliché, I could not have done it without the help of so many people around me [which] I shall never forget.”

Nicolas Garcia, who received eight 9s and two 8s, reflected on the positive impact the Covid lockdowns have had on his education, despite being “stuck at home”.

“We had more time to do independent learning, and in Year 10 I could read ahead…we had more time to do our own work.”. Nicolas will now take A Levels in History, Politics, Economics and Spanish, and has ambitions of becoming a lawyer — “I have a dream and I want to pursue it.”.

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Chair of Governors Paul Lasok praised the students, describing the atmosphere at school as “so great that you can’t feel anything but great.”. He also lauded the work of both students and teachers in challenging circumstances.

“It’s been very challenging, however we’ve had very high levels of engagement from pupils, which shows that we’ve been doing our job properly…what we see today is the result of all that effort that’s been put in on both sides.”.

Kwame Appiah Mensah, another top student who achieved six 9s and four 8s, also praised the school’s contribution to his success.

“Among the unprecedented waves of turmoil caused by Covid, St. Aloysius represented an anchor that swaddled us in focus and determination," he said.