A-Level students in St Austell were celebrating and cheering after another year of excellent exam results.
An impressive 22 subjects at Cornwall College St Austell achieved 100% pass rates, with Film Studies students the stars of the show boasting 100% A* to B grades.
Graphic Design students combined style with substance to gain exceptional results with two thirds of the group landing A*s.
Those who undertook STEM subjects also found the winning formula with more than half getting the coveted A* to B results, a more than 7% increase on last year’s record breaking figures.
As always though, it was the personal stories that added the magic to the day.
Syrian refugee Mohammad Leily, who arrived in Plymouth four years ago, achieved an A* in Maths, an A in Chemistry and an A in Biology, and is going to Southampton University to study medicine.
“It has always been my dream to study medicine,” he explained.
He finished high school in Syria and was about to go to medical school in Damascus, but had to leave due to the war in his homeland.
And despite the initial challenge of the language barrier, Mohammed said “it has all paid off now”.
“I improved a lot in all my subjects with the support of all my teachers and they have been very helpful – you get a lot of personal support. My maths teacher Tim is really amazing, so thank you very much.”
Also heralding from Plymouth was mature student Kenneth Lawty, 28.
He was inspired to change career direction while serving in the military in Kenya as he worked alongside two dentists helping people on the African continent.
His three As in Chemistry, Biology and English Language have landed him a place at Plymouth University studying Dental Surgery.
“I was born in the UK, but did my secondary education in New York State and knew that I wanted to join the British Army and follow in the footsteps of my father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” he explained.
Kenneth secured an apprenticeship in healthcare with the British Army and then went into pharmacy.
“When I was in Kenya, a lot of the patients we were treating had never seen a dentist before – some dentists were extracting 170 teeth a day and the difference that we provided like pain relief was so humbling,” he continued.
Kenneth, who lives in Plymouth with his wife and children, aged six and four said it was amazing to have the support from the British Army.
Whether Kenneth will travel after qualifying will depend on his family situation, but he said he is thankful he commuted from Plymouth to attend college.
“As a mature student I wasn’t sure I would make any friends, but I’ve met other mature students and a lot of students that have really helped me – the camaraderie has been brilliant and I have made friends for life.
“I’d definitely recommend A-levels – I wish I’d done A-levels a long time ago, but I have more responsibility now with my wife and children and I am more motived to do really well, which has urged me on.”
There were many more proud families at the A Level Centre in St Austell, a particularly poignant moment was had as Charlotte MacDonald opened her results alongside her mother Stella.
“I opened my results with my mum outside and she is over the moon and I phoned my dad and he is really pleased,” she explained.
Charlotte, 18, formerly of Fowey River Academy, achieved A*, A*, B, B and will be attending Nottingham Trent University to study Graphic Design.
Stella, a school special education needs coordinator living in Looe, said she was delighted with her daughter’s impressive results.
“I’m so proud and very happy with her education,” she said.
“Since she has been at St Austell College she has become so much more confident in herself. She’s worked incredibly hard and the college has helped her to achieve these results. I’ll be very sad to see her leave for university, but she is ready for a change.”
Head of Cornwall College St Austell, Chris Taylor, said he was delighted to see so many young people in Cornwall succeeding in education.
“A-Level results day is always special and the hard work of students and staff has once again paid off,” he continued.
“Offering a first class education in the St Austell area, we have attracted students from outside of the county who realised the key to success is a good work ethic combined with passionate staff and a positive environment in which to learn.”
Chris added that the results were particularly pleasing considering the numerous reforms in A-Levels this year.
“Our students have demonstrated a commitment to achieving their goals and where we stand out as a College is in providing an unprecedented level of support in helping them on their individual journeys,” Chris explained.
“Whether it’s a student who isn’t sure what they want to do with their lives, a high achiever who has a specific career path in mind, or someone who wants to pursue their creative talents, we have the staff and facilities to get them where they need to go. We are proud to be your local college and provide excellence on your doorstep.”
Many students study A-levels as a progression route to higher education and Cornwall College still has clearing places available on some of its degree programmes.
A dedicated hotline is open, manned by the College’s specialist staff on 0330 123 2523. Further details are available at www.cornwall.ac.uk/university-hub.