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The Sunday Times: “Retakes can be a sensible course of action”

Posted: 20th August 2019


Whilst many students across the country celebrated their A level results last week, some students didn’t secure the grades they wanted and were left reconsidering their future options. To these young people, we would advise: don’t settle for second-best, consider re-taking your A levels as a viable option.

This week, the Sunday Times featured a story about one of our students last year who decided to retake her A levels at Brampton College and achieved A*AA and her dream of going to university to study Medicine. In fact, she was one of six of our students last year who re-sat their A levels achieved a place at university to read Medicine. Again this year, we’ve seen many of our students doing a re-take course transform their prospects for gaining a place at university as well as their confidence in their academic abilities.

You can read the full Sunday Times article below or by clicking on the following link.

The Sunday Times, All change on the big day, August 18th 2019

A teenager whose parents came from Africa, twins who battled to stay together and a medic who did retakes

Bobby Victor’s mother cried last week when her son called to tell her his A-level grades. The 18-year-old, a pupil at a state school, St Ignatius College in Enfield, north London, scored an A* in English, an A in history and a B in religious studies. That was just below his conditional offer of an A* and two As from Cambridge to read history and politics, and he had missed his A grade in religious studies by one mark.

His school promptly appealed, and Bobby phoned Jesus College, Cambridge. “I had to give them a breakdown of my marks. They looked over them and then said I was in.

“My parents were so pleased. I am the first person in the family to go to a Russell Group university, never mind Oxbridge. My mum was crying in the car when I called her.”

Bobby, whose parents are migrants from Kenya, is among a minority of black, Asian and minority ethnic students at Cambridge, but growing numbers are winning places, many supported by the campaign group Target Oxbridge. At his Cambridge interview Bobby remembers “sitting next to another black student, and we were asked whether we were siblings — even though we look nothing like each other. The more of us that go, the better it will become.”

Bobby was one of 300,000 teenagers who picked up their A-level grades last Thursday. While many confirmed their places within hours of getting their results, even if they had not quite met their conditional offers, others entered clearing to search for an alternative university place.

Some of those who did better than expected also entered clearing, hoping to “trade up”. And a new feature that allows students to “reflect and, if they want to change their mind, release themselves online to enter clearing” has been used by thousands this year.

There are still hundreds of degree courses available in what Clare Marchant, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), has described as “a buyer’s market”. Universities, desperate to recruit students and the fees they bring with them, are slashing the £9,250 tuition fees and offering scholarships and incentives — including free iPads.

Molly and George Turner, twins from Eltham, southeast London, entered clearing to find a new university place on Thursday.

Molly, who scored B, C and D grades, missed her offer to study economics, politics and international studies at Warwick University, but by the end of the day she had an offer for economics and politics at Kent University.

George, who scored a B in economics, a C in history and a D in law, “self-released” from an unconditional offer from Brighton University. He accepted a place to read military history, also at Kent.

The twins, who attended Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy in Eltham, are thrilled that they will be at Kent together. “We were a bit nervous about going off to different unis,” Molly says.

After disappointing A-level results, if re-marks fail to yield an improvement in grades, retakes can be a sensible course of action.

“The teachers genuinely cared, wanting to see me do well and achieve my best,” she says. And do well she did. With A*AA grades under her belt —plus an important lesson learnt in self-belief — she left the college “a very different person”.

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