An ice-cream van greeted students collecting their GCSEs at Wykham Park Academy. The treat was lined up as a reward for all their hard work.

This year’s Year 11 cohort were the first to sit GCSE exams following the Covid-19  pandemic which saw them endure two years of disturbance to their learning as a result of the lockdowns put in place. 

Some 36% of students achieved English & Maths at Grade 5 or above and there was a 14% increase in the students achieving 9 – 4 in science over 2019. 

Sylvia Thomas, Principal of the Banbury secondary, told the Banbury Guardian: “There will be a bumper crop of students offered a place at the Banbury Campus sixth form following another successful year for students achieving the highest grades which will secure them a place on A level courses. 
“We are proud of the way that all of our students approached their exams this year following the two years of disruption they suffered through the pandemic. “Their resilience and fortitude was notable and they worked with staff in countless extra sessions in the run up to May and June. Thank you to all parents who supported us too – our partnership with them is so important to their children’s success.
“We wish all of our year 11 cohort this year the very best for their futures.”

L-R: Wykham Park Academy student Sam Coggins & Futures Institute student Maya Ross

Wykham Park student Sam Coggins, 16, achieved Grade 8s in English Language & Maths, and his other marks included Grade 6s, a 7 and he also secured a Merit for Btec Business and a Distinction for Sport. 
He told Banbury FM: “The last two years have been hard work. We missed quite a lot of classroom learning because of the pandemic, the online learning was good but it’s not the same. The teachers have been great about supporting us through extra revision sessions and helping us prepare for the exams so I felt confident going in to sit them. 
“I think we were well prepared for the exams and had direction over the content. Everything that I expected to come up, came up and I will be staying on at the school’s sixth form.
“I think exams are quite possibly an outdated system of assessment, a lot of jobs now revolve around digital and online and exams don’t really prepare you for those roles.”

Maya Ross, 16, a student at Futures Institute (sister school of Wykham Park and part of the Wykham Banbury Campus) achieved 6 Grade 9s, an 8 and a 7 and was the top performing student across the campus. She will be returning to study at Wykham’s Sixth Form in September. 
Reflecting on her learning over the last two years, Maya said: “Online learning was not the same as being in a classroom. However, because our lessons were actual video calls there was more interaction and the discussions you would normally have with your classmates continued and there was interaction with teachers. 
“I kept my usual routine of waking up at the same time everyday as if I was going to school which I think helped. I was well-supported by the school and felt listened to.
“I was anxious for my exams but because we did so many mocks during the year, I got used to doing the exams and the exam hall. 
“I’m hoping to do A-level Chemistry, Biology and Maths and go to university and in the future maybe get a job in pharmacy.”