Northern Ireland

Delight at A-level results after two years of uncertainty

Pupils at St Dominic's in Belfast share a joke as they look over their A level results
Pupils at St Dominic's in Belfast share a joke as they look over their A level results

Students have expressed delight and relief after receiving their A-level results after two years of uncertainty.

Sixth formers faced major disruption to their education due to the coronavirus pandemic and having to learn at home due to lockdowns.

Their A-level grades were assessed by teachers following the cancellation of formal exams for the second year in a row.

Tuesday morning revealed higher results across the board with more than 50% of grades awarded in the top A*-A categories.

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen visited Regent House school in Newtownards, Co Down, where she congratulated students and described the grade outcomes as having been assessed by those who know the students the best: their teachers.

The school’s head boy Matthew Murray received two A* grades in English literature and politics and an A in German.

He is now set to study law at the Queen’s University.

“I’m very happy after the last year which has been a very difficult year with all the ups and downs, I’m glad to finally get some clarity and hopefully draw a line under the difficulties of last year and move on to further study,” he said.

“There has been a lot of changing plans, as the year started planning to do full exams and then no exams. It was the lack of clarity that really troubled a lot of people but we’re glad that it is over now.”

He said his year group missed out on a lot of the fun aspects of sixth form, such as the formal.

“But all things considered I think we did the very best with the year that we had, I think everyone is very happy with the results today, and glad to get that today,” he said.

Head girl Charlotte Maxwell received an A* and two As after studying chemistry, biology and maths.

“I’m really pleased especially after the last two years were not really what we had hoped for, it’s really nice to end on a high,” she said.

“I’m wanted to go on to study medicine in Liverpool. I got the grades and have been accepted so I’m very happy about that.”

Ms Maxwell said she missed a lot of practical lessons in the science subjects she studied.

“There was so much uncertainty, online learning, in and out of lockdown, and it was hard for everyone,” she said.

“It definitely made some aspects a bit harder to understand because you weren’t doing the actual experiments face to face with the teacher but my teachers have been great especially throughout lockdown, they were always there for us over Zoom.

“We definitely made the most of it despite everything that was against us.

“A lot of people, including myself, were very anxious today about results, but all in all I think everyone is really happy today.”

She said the coronavirus pandemic made her want to be a doctor even more.

“Watching the news throughout the lockdown, watching all the doctors on the frontline, it was inspiring seeing how they all pulled together… I’m really excited to hopefully enter the health service in the future,” she said.