When the GCSE students of 2021 began their secondary education, the Rio Olympics had just taken place. Although back in September 2015, GCSE exams were at the back of their minds, and quite rightly so, for they were simply enjoying learning more across a broad curriculum. However, they were also taking their first steps towards those exams. Like Olympians, they had their personal goals and dreams; they had areas that came easily and those which were more of a struggle, but the aim was to bring the very best out of these young people, both individually and collectively.

However, the Covid pandemic forced changes: remote learning, self-isolation, illness, family tragedy and uncertainty. The Tokyo Olympics of 2020 took place in 2021 and GCSE exams were replaced with Teacher Assessed Grades. Just as an Olympic medal from the recent event in Japan is worth at least as much as any won before, let no one say that these students have had an easier time than any of their predecessors. In these challenging and different circumstances, they have worked hard, very hard; they have had to be resilient and they have had to learn in new ways. We are immensely proud of them all.

At Chigwell, like many schools, because we wanted to ensure that the evidence on which grades were based was robust, students have been assessed more than they would have been had they sat GCSEs in the conventional way. In addition to coping with the challenges of the pandemic themselves, their teachers have been examiners, markers and moderators, and we are tremendously appreciative of the time they have given and the professionalism they have shown on behalf of their students, ensuring that the data submitted to exam boards for scrutiny was as robust as possible. Added to this, there has been the need to provide ongoing support for students as individuals and this has taken time and sensitivity. It really was an Olympic effort from all members of the school community.

We are delighted with the results that Chigwell students have been awarded by the exam boards. In the challenging circumstances, many students everywhere will have achieved more than they ever thought possible, particularly in midst of the pandemic, and they should take a moment to enjoy their success.

In addition to their ten GCSEs, 20% of Chigwell students also completed a Higher Project Qualification in which they researched a topic of their choosing independently. This is equivalent to half a GCSE and provides an excellent preparation for further study. Some students also took Additional Mathematics in which over 80% achieved the top grade.

Chigwell students will begin A-levels very shortly and they have been carrying out some preparatory work over the summer. In the Sixth Form, they will be joined by some others from local schools and some boarders from a variety of countries around the world. This slightly new mix of students will provide an exciting start to A-level study and we look forward to working with them all. Like the Tokyo Olympians there are more medals to win and more challenges to overcome. These students must never put a limit on their ambition and we will enjoy sharing in their ongoing success.

View the GCSE Results 2021