It is said that a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. For students everywhere who have been anxiously awaiting A-level results, the waters through which they have had to navigate through the uncertainty caused by the pandemic have been far from smooth, indeed, it could be said that they have had to weather the perfect storm.

Remote learning, isolation because of illness or being a close contact, heightened anxiety about the form of A-levels, vulnerable family members and simply not knowing when it will all end, have all been features of the last 18 months – the majority of the time spent in the Sixth Form by the leavers of 2021. However, through it all students have shown remarkable resilience and cheerfulness; they have worked in different ways, supported each other and they have grappled with new challenges. They have kept on going and have had dedicated focussed help from their teachers, some of whom have had their own Covid-related challenges to contend with whilst also having to set extra assessments, mark and moderate them rigorously to ensure that robust grades were submitted to exam boards for quality assurance.

The results these students achieved, particularly given the circumstances, are excellent.

Mr Michael Punt, Headmaster

The assessments which formed the basis of the Teacher Assessed Grades were designed to be rigorous, to prepare students for the next stage of their education but also to provide them with opportunities to show just what they are capable of. These were certainly not a soft option in comparison to sitting A-level examinations in the normal way, but it was not the way that we had expected their time at Chigwell to end. In addition to their three or four A-levels, over a third of the year group also completed an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), in which they researched a chosen topic independently. An EPQ is equivalent to half an A level, and two thirds of Chigwell students who took this opportunity were awarded an A* or A grade. The qualification enables candidates to explore an area of interest and to develop study skills that are highly valued by universities.

A-level is a steppingstone to either employment or higher education and although some destinations are yet to be finalised, students have firm and insurance offers from 45 universities (including 5 overseas) for 60 different courses. It is important that in their final year, students know their own areas of interests and the courses that best meet their particular needs so that the next phase of their education is fruitful and enjoyable. The greatest number of offers held by Chigwell students this year are from University College London, King’s College London, Birmingham, and Nottingham and the most popular courses are economics, psychology, medicine, history and law. However, regardless of what their course and destination, we wish them all every ongoing success and happiness.

For these students, and indeed everyone, we hope the Covid storm is passing and that there are easier times ahead. However, they, and indeed their outstanding teachers who have done so much, have developed new skills and new ways of working, many of which will be highly valuable in the world beyond school. Having seen how well they have steered their way through, this generation of leavers should feel confident that they are equipped to face future challenges and be ambitious when considering their own futures. We are proud of all that they have achieved here and the people they have become and, although they will all be beginning adventures elsewhere, we hope very much that they will stay in touch with us.