Shepherd's Bush Sixth Formers Beat the Odds

Excellent results achieved despite challenging circumstances

From left to right, Hammersmith Academy students Safwan Uddin, Eliza Mackay, Ermir Bela, Sahra Abdi, Milan Kleins

August 22, 2023

Sixth formers at schools in the Shepherd’s Bush area have achieved some outstanding results despite this year presenting candidates with a particular set of challenges.

For many it was the first time that they will have taken public exams as their GCSE marks were teacher-assessed and it was also the year that the education regulator chose to introduce tougher grading after more relaxed marking during the pandemic.

At Ark Burlington Danes Academy over a third of students have confirmed offers at top third universities including Oxford, University College London, Kings College London and Warwick University.

Yaseen Ahmed is heading to his first choice – Oxford University – to study Medicine hoping to ultimately become a surgeon.

Having achieved an A* in Maths, A in Biology and B grades in Chemistry and Psychology, he is “really happy with the results”.

“I would like to thank my teachers and everyone here. Their advice and support has really helped me get to where I’m going to be next year,” Yaseen added.

Yaseen's father's and late grandfather's dream was to build a clinic in their hometown in Bangladesh. Yaseen will be the first doctor in his family and hopes to fulfil their dreams and work in the NHS. “I would like to thank the support from the sixth form team and my class teachers for their expert advice, suggestions and help. They were really crucial to my success.”

He has also been given a Reuben Foundation Award bursary to help with the cost of his degree.

Ark Burlington Danes student Yaseen Ahmed will study medicine at Oxford
Ark Burlington Danes student Yaseen Ahmed will study medicine at Oxford

Aiysha Rahman  is heading to the University of Warwick to study Law after gaining grades in Psychology, History and Mathematics. A Reuben bursary will support her; she is the first in her family to attend university. She hopes to start her law firm that hires women and people from ethnic minorities. 

Anas Achak, is heading to UCL to study Politics and International Relations after earning A levels in Economics, Government & Politics and History. As the first person in his family to attend university, Anas has a strong interest in politics and international relations as his family sought refuge in the UK from Algeria. Anas wants to be an MP and represent his constituency and community.

Cache-Dior Eccleston achieved grades in Biology, Chemistry and Geography and is going to Queen's University of Belfast to study Biology with Professional Studies with a Reuben bursary. She's interested in working in STEM as she didn't see many black scientific researchers when she was growing up and is passionate about advancing equality among Black-Caribbean women at university and in science. Cache-Dior has been on the student council and is Head Girl in the sixth form. She has accumulated over 50 hours of volunteering since Year 12 by being in the science club, which promotes STEM for key stage 3 students. “I am so ecstatic that I got into my first choice of university and will be doing an integrated Master’s course at Newcastle in September. Thank you so much to all of the BDA staff that taught me throughout the years.”

With A levels in Biology, Economics and Psychology, Iqra Adan will start her Psychology degree at UCL this September and hopes to become a child psychologist. Iqra is the first person in her family to attend university, and this has motivated her to succeed as a degree will give Iqra the opportunities unavailable to her parents. She will receive a Marshall Wace bursary.

Maghfira Bekere achieved AAB in English Literature, Psychology and Government and Politics and will study Law at the University of Nottingham. Maghfia wants to advocate for those who are voiceless and subject to injustice. Maghfira is the first person in her family to attend university and is a Marshall Wace bursary recipient. “I am so grateful for all the support and encouragement I received from my teachers at BDA. They definitely played a big part in my success here in sixth form.”

Reece Ohalloran is attending UCL to study History after achieving A*AB in History, English Literature and Sociology. He wants to pursue a career in the civil service within diplomatic services. He wishes to pursue this career to improve the conditions and welfare of others. Reece has contributed to the school community since Year 7, attending student council meetings. He's a Marshall Wace bursary recipient. “The true path to success involves having high ambition, a willingness to aim for perfection and to never accept failure or defeat.”

Head Boy, Cameron Juya who achieved D*D*D and will be completing a degree apprenticeship. He said, “I wouldn’t have been able to achieve these grades without the amazing support I’ve received throughout my years here.”

Cameron is moving on to the same software company as his best friend since nursery, Abdirizak Sheikh, who received a D* and two D grades.

They’ll both be starting a degree apprenticeship partnered with the University of West London.

Abdirizak added: “I am over the moon with my results and can’t get the smile off my face.”

Other top performers at the school include

• Christian Casimir who achieved A*A*A* and is going to UCL to study History, Politics and Economics.
• Joshua Cassie who achieved A*A*A and is going to University of Warwick to study Computer Science.
• Cherif Kherkhache who achieved A* AA and is going to University of Warwick to study Computer Science.
• Sarah Aly who achieved AAA and is taking a gap year and will then be applying to study Dentistry.
• Yasin Orfi who achieved AAA and is going to Queen Mary University Economics, Statistics and Mathematics.
• Paige Lewis who achieved D*D*D* and will be going to the University of Surrey to study Sports and Exercise Science.

Principal David Carr said: “This is a momentous occasion and I know that every student worked incredibly hard to get to where they are today. I hope that as you move forward, you continue to Aim High, Be Brave, Be Kind and Keep Learning. It is through your hard work and determination that you ‘will be the ones to make our world a better place.” 

At Hammersmith Academy students 72 per cent of the A Level grades awarded were mmarked A* to C.

Securing one of the most competitive university spots in the country – Ana Mackenzie is off to Cambridge University to study a Foundation Year after achieving an A*, A and B.

“During my time at Sixth Form, I received close support from my subject teachers who helped me enjoy the curriculum and love my subjects. I hope to pursue a future in diplomacy with Hammersmith Academy Sixth Form providing me with this great foundation I have today,” said Ana.

Safwan Uddin was the Academy’s highest achiever, receiving four A* grades. He is now off to King’s College London to read Mathematics.

“Opening these results shocked me,” he said. “This moment reminded me of the many people that helped me in ways that easily go unnoticed such as that extra push that my teachers gave me, and the encouragement that my parents gave me the whole way through.”

He will be joined by Sahra Abdi who received an A* and two A grades, earning a place to study Medicine.

Ermir Bela earned two A* grades and two A grades and will go on to study an Architecture degree apprenticeship at BDP.

Milan Kleins also achieved two A* grades and two A grades. He will begin a Computer Science degree at the Queen Mary University of London this autumn.

Also going to the Queen Mary University of London is Kiera Ghouneim who achieved two A* grades and a B and will be reading Psychology.

"I’m ecstatic and over the moon with my results,” she said. “I cannot thank the staff enough for all the support I have received in my two years and I’m looking forward to securing my degree."

Salvatore Sorrentino was awarded three A* grades and will start a Psychology course at the University of Bath.

Eliza Mackay is going to Loughborough University to read Geography after receiving an A*, A and BTEC Distinction*.

“I am so happy and relieved with the results. The support from the teachers has been amazing and Sixth Form has been extremely enjoyable. I’ve made new friends and memories, and thanks to this, I’m able to make many more great memories at university,” she said.

Headteacher Gary Kynaston added, "I am delighted with the A-Level results our students have achieved this year. We are on par with those achieved last year and these results are not a product of chance, but of collaborative hard work and dedication between students, teachers and parents.

“It is fantastic to see such a large proportion of our students achieving their first choice offers at leading universities and attaining top apprenticeship placements. I am confident they will go on to great things in the next phase of their lives. Congratulations to them and their families.”

Ninety per cent of Phoenix Academy pupils will progress on to their first choice university including a number who’ve secured places at Russell group universities.

Almost half of the students’ exams were graded B or higher, with 80 per cent achieving between an A* to C grade across all their subjects.

A standout student was Omar who got an A* in Biology, an A in Chemistry and an A in Maths. He will be going on to study Pharmacy at Kings College London.

Head Girl, Reazan, is also heading to Kings to study Nursing and her classmate Infaz is off to read Aerospace Engineering at City, University of London.

Another student, Tyrell, will attend Reading University to study Pharmacology while Adna will read Politics and History at SOAS, University of London.

Principal Tony MacDowall said, “These results reflect the determination and passion our students have consistently demonstrated throughout their academic journey at Phoenix Academy.

“As students embark on the next chapter, I would like to offer them congratulations and wish them all the best for whatever the future may hold.”

William Morris Sixth Form star, Agueda Coutinho, got an A* in Sociology, A in History and a B in Geography. She will go on to study History at Utrecht University.

Mary Berrisford, Principal at William Morris Sixth Form said, “We have been ecstatic about our exam results today. We've had some really, really pleased students in the building. 115 of our students have achieved their first place at university, and they've been so happy about it. We're just so pleased for all of our students who've done so exceedingly well this year. It's been glorious.”

Teachers and pupils at William Morris Sixth Form with A Level results
Teachers and pupils at William Morris Sixth Form with A Level results

There were also some outstanding performances at A-levels and BTECs and other vocational qualifications at Hammersmith & Fulham College, part of West London College, in Gliddon Road.

Qais Attaallah, 20, and Delina Kidane, 19, each achieved triple D* grades on their Applied Science BTEC – the highest grade possible.

Qais is set to go to Manchester University to study for a degree in Genetics, with plans to complete a Masters and potentially a PhD in Genetics. While Delina is off to Kingston University to study Biomedical Science.

Student, Iman El Masmoudi Garcia, who got D*DD, thanked her teachers for their support throughout her time at West London College.

“My teacher understood each student individually and helped them to do their best,” said the 19-year-old. “She encouraged me to express my ideas and pushed me to be better.”

Iman will study Accounting and Management at Queen Mary University of London.

Camol Bethel, 28, achieved distinctions across all six units of his Travel and Tourism qualification, bringing him one step closer to fulfilling his dream of working for Border Force.

“I like the idea of serving and protecting in a travel and tourism setting,” he explained.

Many more of the school’s creative minds received distinctions. From the Digital Design department Mariam Eish and Sara Dehbouzorgi, both 20, will study Interior Design and Architecture at Middlesex University, Renata Varga, is planning to kick off her fashion career with a gap year in Italy or South Korea and Elyana Guler, is set to study a foundation year in Fine Art at the City & Guilds of London Art School in Kennington. Creative Media Production Technology student Daniel Staszak will progress to Oxford Brookes University to study Digital Media Production.

James Taylor, Deputy Principal at West London College, added, “Level 3 Results Day is a tribute to the dedication of teachers, parents, and support networks in helping our learners to fulfil their potential and pursue their dreams.”

West London Free School (WLFS) students received their best set of A-level results ever and will be continuing their studies at some of the world’s best universities with over three quarters obtaining their first choice. Just under half of all grades are A* or A, and one in four students have achieved straight As and A*s. 48% were graded A* to A (compared with 45% in 2022), 77% were graded A* to B (compared with 73% in 2022) and 91% were graded A* to C (the same as 2022).

Bursary students from a disadvantaged background have achieved places to study at Durham University , University of Leeds and the University of Surrey, seven WLFS students will be attending Oxford or Cambridge, and one has achieved a place to study at both Columbia University in New York and Sciences Po in France.

Ben McLaughlin and Robert Peal, Joint Headteachers at the WLFS, have said, ‘We are absolutely thrilled that students at the WLFS have achieved our best ever set of A-level results, despite headlines suggesting that top grades would go down this year. This is an incredible achievement, about which our students, their families and everyone working at the School should be extremely proud. At the WLFS, we teach the values of hard work and highs standards, and these outcomes are the result.’

At Latymer Upper School there was a total of 233 A*s and 231 A grades with 93% of all grades being A*-B. 25 students recorded three or more straight A*s of which 7 achieved four of the very top grades.

89% of students at the school will now be going to their first-choice university, including Yale, Brown, Oxford and Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Imperial, LSE, St Andrew’s and UCL.

“This is the best set of results in ‘normal times’ ever achieved by Latymerians,” said the Head, Mr Goodhew. “I am absolutely thrilled for all of our students and staff, who have worked so hard over these last two years. This is wonderful recognition of their endeavours. This multi-talented year group are now going on to study a wide range of courses at some of the world’s leading universities both in the UK and abroad. ”

Among the students celebrating all A*s today is Matilda, who has achieved the highest marks in the country in both Chemistry and Biology A Level. She takes up her place at Imperial College to study Biological Sciences with Spanish.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Matilda,” Mr Goodhew continued. “For her to have achieved the highest mark in the country, in two subjects, is phenomenal. She fully deserves this accolade, which completes an exceptional year for her, having qualified for, and won Silver at the recent International Biology Olympiad.” Matilda will be joined at Imperial by Camille, who also got straight A*s and will be studying Microbiology.

Matilda (centre) with her teachers

“Our boys and girls have done incredibly well in STEM subjects and STEP papers, including Physics,” said Mr Goodhew. 40 students are now going on to study degree subjects in STEM. Like Matilda and Camille, Iris, Nina, Jasmine, Sofia, Ellen, Saskia, Olivia, Nikki and Louise all got straight A*s. Sofia now takes up a place at Cambridge (Jesus) to study Maths. After getting straight A*s Ellie will be studying Computer Science at Oxford (Worcester) as will Hugh (Balliol) and they will be joined there by School Vice Captain, Daniel from Chiswick who got straight A*s and will now study Physics (Merton) and Amitai (Wadham) taking Maths and Philosophy.

“Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we are also able to offer places at Latymer to children fleeing conflicts around the world. I’m absolutely delighted for Tymur who joined us from Ukraine and despite only studying for his A Levels for the last 8 months has achieved A, C and D in Music, Physics and Maths and will now go on to Tonmeister, on the best Sound Recording course in the country!”

Tymur Sabri only had eight months to study for his A Levels. Picture: Louise Kaye

“We are extremely proud of all our pupils who worked so hard and took their A-Levels this year,” said Cllr Alex Sanderson, H&F Cabinet Member for Children and Education.

“Students in H&F have once again earned top grades which means they can continue their journey to university and follow their aspirations.

“And those who didn’t get the results they needed should not worry. There is a chance to resit exams just as many pupils have done this year after being in a similar position. There are so many education and career opportunities ahead.

“None of the success would be possible without the tireless support of teachers, parents and school staff each year. We are eternally grateful for all their efforts to give our young people the best possible start in life.”

Nationally, the proportion of A or A* grades awarded dropped to 27.2% compared to a peak of 44.8% during the pandemic meaning that 100,000 fewer grades were given out at this level.

This brings the level of top grades closer to 2019, the year before Covid-19 when it was 25.4%.

UCAS says that, for the UK as a whole, 79% of those taking A Levels this year gained a place at their first-choice university.

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