A level results 2023: Schools and students share their results

A-level students have shown resilience and determination to overcome both the significant challenges of their pandemic-disrupted education and examiners bringing pass rates closer to 2019 rates to shine in their results this year.

Head of Sixth Form, Helen Taylor, with some of the Upper Sixth opening their envelopes
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Jonathan Shaw, Head of King’s Ely Senior, summed up the mood of headteachers as the 8am embargo for 2023's summer A level results lifted on 17 August: “Results day is always approached with a little trepidation, but for this year’s cohort there was the additional pressure of sitting public exams for the first time, due to the cancellation of their GCSE exams in 2021. We are therefore particularly delighted with today’s results.”

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Independent schools in Oxford and Cambridge A level results

Despite the number of top grades falling most significantly in England, students at the co-educational day and boarding school from 3-18, which offers flexible international programmes, were among those who significantly outperformed headline A level pass rates at thriving independent and international day and boarding schools in England.Overall, a fifth of King's Ely's A-Level results were A* grade, while almost half were A*-A and three-quarters grades A*-B. This meant that, with around 20% of students nationally missing their first-choice university offer as results were released and UCAS re-opened its systems, almost every student at King’s Ely had secured a place at their first-choice institution. This includes three students taking up places at Oxbridge colleges, studying subjects as diverse as engineering, acting, medicine to fashion design at universities and institutions in the UK and internationally.“We are extremely proud of our Year 13s, who have achieved some excellent A-Level grades,” said Jonathan Shaw, congratulating students, parents and teachers. “[They] leave King’s Ely with the character, confidence, and sense of responsibility to make a difference wherever they go next.”  Also in Cambridgeshire, students at the Stephen Perse Foundation, a day school for students aged 3-18, achieved similarly impressive results. This year, 58% of A levels (and IB equivalent) were graded A*-A. Over three-quarters (77%) of A Levels (or IB equivalent) were at A*-B, with 38% of students attaining at least three subjects at A*-A at A Level (or IB equivalent).Reflecting the school’s Apple-Distinguished School for digital learning status, school leavers this year will be heading to a diverse field of study, including cyber security, aerospace engineering, optometry, neuroscience and English literature.Senior School Head, Stephen Ward, expressed pride in the accomplishments of the students, praising their academic ability, dedication and determination to succeed despite the wider challenges. “We have complete confidence these young people will go on to excel in their chosen fields and make a positive impact on the world."Rounding out results from the schools in the Oxford-Cambridge arc – an internationally important centre of high-tech manufacturing and research – Headington School in Oxford, an independent girls’ day and boarding school from 3-18, saw many of its students also achieve above their assessed predictions on joining the school, as well as significantly outperform national averages.Around half of all exams were awarded at A*-A (49%) this year, with A*s accounting for 23%. Three-quarters were A*-B. Thirteen girls – more than one in ten of the cohort – achieved three or more A*s. These results mean Headington School’s class of 2023 can now confidently take their next steps to their chosen universities.

Athletes combine academic and sporting success at school

Among them is Sophie, who successfully combined her academic studies at Headington School with international rowing commitments, winning a gold medal in the GB Eight in U19 World Championship in Italy and now three A*s to secure her place to study Medicine at University College London.“The results today are about the next six years of my life,” says Sophie. “The nice thing about doing this at Headington is the school understands it. They help me catch up when I need to and that made it so much easier to balance. I would be in a very different place had I not been at Headington.”Two world-class swimmers aiming for next year’s Olympics who studied at Millfield School, a co-educational day and boarding school in Somerset, have also very successfully studied and trained for success. Solomon achieved As* in maths, physics and chemistry and an A in further maths. As well as representing the day and boarding school in Maths, Physics, and languages Olympiads, Solomon has been selected to represent both Great Britain and Wales at International competitions.Alex was also able to achieve A levels in maths, physics and chemistry at Millfield whilst excelling in his swimming, claiming the European and British Junior Champion titles and multiple British age-group titles. Both swimmers will continue training at Millfield with the newly formed Millfield Performance Squad, which is designed for student athletes aspiring for podium success on the senior international stage.Millfield's Director of Swimming, Euan Dale, praised the students saying, “Solomon and Alex are gifted individuals, we are so proud to have watched them grow into the remarkable young men that they are today. We can't wait to follow and support them in their journey to bigger and better things beyond Millfield.”

Schools outperform pre-Covid pass rates

While pass rates in England returned sharply to pre-Covid trends, students and teachers at Leighton Park School in Berkshire, an independent co-educational secondary school, were among those exceeding pre-pandemic achievements. Top A level grades for A*-B reached 57%; 2% above the 2019 pre-Covid levels. The figures reflect Leighton Park’s ranking in government league tables for Sixth Form Academic Progress. The 2023 'Times Educational Supplement' (TES) Awards finalist for Independent Senior School of the Year, Leighton Park is the top performing school in Berkshire and 27th in England for academic progress, being one of only eight schools nationally to appear in the top 100 every year since the league tables began.“Set against the context of the national picture where the results are back to pre-pandemic level we are delighted that our grades have continued to improve,” said Head, Matthew Judd. “Students here have chosen courses because they want to be a force for good and I look forward to seeing them carrying the values of the school forwards. As ever on results day it is wonderful to see so many happy faces.”It was a similar success story at Benenden, an independent girls day and boarding school in Kent, which celebrates its centenary this year. Benenden’s A*-A rate was higher than in 2019. Over half (57%) of grades were at A* or A this year, up from 55% in 2019. The A*-B rate also rose by two percentage points to at 82%.Benenden Headmistress Samantha Price said: “These are an impressively strong set of results and I would like to congratulate our students on their achievements. We are committed to constantly evolving our curriculum to prepare our students for the modern workplace, with an emphasis on the creative technologies, financial literacy, global awareness and research skills. Today’s results show that this focus is absolutely working – and ensures that our students will be ready for the workplace of the future in an ever-changing technology-driven landscape.”

A level results around the world

Students at Cognita schools were celebrating their exam results. In Europe, 62% of A Level grades in this international network were A*-B. At the British School of Barcelona, Cognita's A level cohort, 46% of grades were A or A*. Still in Spain, at El Limonar International School (ELIS) in Murcia, 56% were A*-A. At International School Zurich North (ISZN) in Switzerland, 39% were A*-A.
In the Middle East, Repton Abu Dhabi's A level class of 2023 were the first cohort ever to sit the exams at the school. A third of their exam entries were rewarded with  A* to A, and 78% were A* to C grades. Over a third of the grades came in higher than what students were predicted to achieve, "demonstrating the extraordinary value add the Repton Abu Dhabi teachers have provided them". The results mean students can now register at their first-choice universities around the world, including McGill University (Canada), University of New South Wales (Australia), University of Bristol (UK) and University of Manchester (UK).Extending thanks to parents and teachers for their support, Steven Lupton, principal of Repton Abu Dhabi, said, “We are immensely proud of our first A-Level cohort’s milestone achievement. They have set an outstanding precedent for future cohorts to aspire to, and I would like to congratulate all the students for their incredible performances in this year’s examinations. As they embark on their future endeavours, I am confident they will continue to shine and make us proud.”

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