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A-level students turn their backs on university

Results day joy for teens, but many say they won’t follow traditional education route

16 August, 2019 — By Emily Finch and Calum Fraser

Teacher Tim Fox at Highbury Fields with Mayor of Islington Cllr Rakhia Ismail, and students Iris Britwum, Maryam Begum, Luiza Sommariva, Jenna Cahusac de Caux and Begum Aksu, with Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz

EMOTIONS ran high yesterday (Thursday) as hundreds of sixth-formers ripped open their A-level results.

But many of the students – despite getting top grades – said they were following a trend of avoiding the traditional university route and opting instead to go straight into work.

Jamil Rashid, 18, who studied at City and Islington College, got ABC grades in psychology, economics and maths.

High achievers at Central Foundation Boys’ School: Serhat Gunes, Mohseen Hussain, Esther Da Silva, Comfort Ali, Mohammed Sayed, Wasim Khan, Joseph Nguyen, Joshua Cabrera, Angy Ponce and Mohammed Chowdhury

He said: “I don’t need a degree to get a salary.”

Aaron Cuthbertson, 18, achieved one of the highest-ever grades at City and Islington with a flush of A*s in maths, further maths and physics. He said: “University isn’t for everyone and I much prefer the practical side of computing. I didn’t want to do a traditional course with too much theory.”

Esma Akan and Deniz Osturk with BTec results at City of London Academy Highbury Grove

Friends Fern Sheppard, 18, and Zaid Parkar, 18, however, are off to Nottingham University together to study electrical engineering and bio tech, respectively – to the delight of Zaid’s mother.

Aaron Cutburtson got A*, A*, A* at City and Islington College

“She is very happy about my grades,” said Zaid who got ABC in maths, chemistry and physics.

Highbury Grove student Carrie Lewis got A*AB

Peter Murray, director of the college’s sixth form, said he had seen a “gradual trend” of his students turning their backs on university, adding: “They don’t want to be in £40,000 to £50,000 worth of debt. We now also offer two tutor groups for students who want to step into work from sixth form. We’ve had good results with lots of happy students who have worked hard over two years.”

Sammy Lee of City of London Academy Islington

Meanwhile, Central Foundation Boys’ School, in Old Street, saw a pass rate of 99 per cent with 83 per cent of grades at A* to C, 52 per cent at A* to B, and 29 per cent at A* or A.

Jamil Rashid and Kawsar Hassan of City at Islington College

The school said students who took vocational exams were also “very successful” with 68 per cent gaining a Distinction which is equivalent to an A or A* at A-level. Top achievers are heading to the University of Manchester, the University of Surrey, and St George’s University.

Kimberley Koxha-Doci and Safia Cabdalle celebrate their BTec results at City of London Academy Islington

Carrie Lewis, 18, at City of London Academy (CoLA) Highbury Grove, was delighted with her results as she picked up an A* in further maths, A in maths and B in physics. She will be studying maths at Durham University.

Deniz Ozturk was surprised by her results after she achieved BBA.

City and Islington students, Fern Sheppard and Zaid Parkar

She said: “I didn’t think I would do this good. I worked really hard but you know that anxiety feeling the night before. I’m so happy. I was predicted BBB. I’m happy my teachers believed in me.”

The 19-year-old is now going to City of London University to study psychology.

Luiza Sommariva with Mayor Rakhia Ismail

She added: “I have family members who suffer from mental illness issues and it has always been my dream to help them.”

Highbury Grove headteacher Aimee Lyall said: “We’re really pleased. They have worked hard and they deserve to celebrate today. A lot of our students are first-generation university, so a lot of support is needed through that.

Matthew Peacham at City and Islington

“But we are also seeing a lot of students take on apprenticeships, which we are supporting them with.”

City of London Academy Islington pupils Kimberley Koxha-Doci, 19, and Safia Cabdalle, 17, walked to the Prebend Street school to get their results together on Thursday morning.

Albert Karanja at Highbury Grove

They achieved the same distinction, merit and pass results in their BTEC courses and they are both going on to Middlesex University.

Safia said: “I was really nervous last night and scared to see the results this morning.

“It’s all done now, though, and I’m so happy.”

Islington Mayor Cllr Rakhia Ismail celebrated with students at Highbury Fields secondary school where Iris Britwum,18, said she was “excited” to get the grades to go study biomedical science at the University of Kent.


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