THE big wide world of opportunity opened up before thousands of Gloucestershire teenagers on Thursday as they collected their A-level results.
University will beckon for many, with a few heading straight into work and apprenticeships too.
The A* grades flowed for hundreds of pupils, with King’s School reporting a 100 per cent pass rate and most others well in the 90s.
It was smiles all round at High School for Girls with another 100 per cent pass rate.
More than 90 per cent of the 120 students received A* to C grades while 65 per cent achieved A* to B results. Headteacher Ewa Sawicka said: “We are really pleased with the results, especially with the number of A* and A grades that students have achieved.”
One of the top performers at the Denmark Road school was Anna Perry, who overcame ME to achieve two A*s in biology and chemistry and a B in physics. The 18-year-old, from Highnam, was diagnosed with the chronic fatigue syndrome six years ago but her results mean she can go on to study chemistry at Birmingham University in September.
“It has been an up-hill struggle and very difficult at times,” she said.
“It’s not just the exhaustion. I get black-outs and can feel very ill. My friends, family and teachers have been so supportive.”
Mum Elaine Perry said: “We are incredibly proud. We know what it has taken for her to get these results.
“She has had to devise her learning around her condition.”
Hard work and dedication also paid off for Imogen Hathaway, from Highnam, who gained two A*s in art and biology and an A in history.
Imogen, who is going to study biology at Exeter University, said: “I am just so happy because the exams were difficult and I was worried about how I had got on.”
Meanwhile Stephanie Parry, from Cheltenham, will study medicine at Sheffield University after achieving an A* in biology and two As in chemistry and maths.
She said: “It is daunting that I have another five years of education in front of me but it is my dream to be a doctor.”
A-level results day is “the best thing about being a teacher” according to heads at Sir Thomas Rich’s Grammar School and St Peter’s High School.
From the 165 candidates at St Thomas Rich’s, 99.9 per cent achieved three A* to E grades, and 80.2 per cent had scores ranging from A* to B in what was described by headmaster Matthew Morgan as their “best year yet”.
At St Peter’s, 98 per cent of their 479 candidates achieved all A* to E grades, and 40 per cent had scores ranging from A* to B.
Mr Morgan said: “I am delighted that a year group that had so much talent in other areas of school life and led the School with real style and distinction have achieved excellent results.
Andy Barnard, head of sixth form at St Peter’s, said most of the students got the grades they deserved.
He said: “We had 10 students who had all A*s and this is the best part of being a secondary school teacher when you see pupils getting results and moving on with their lives.”
St Peter’s student Dan Robertson, 18 from Nympsfield near Stroud, will study maths at Cambridge in September after securing two A*s in the subject and a B in physics.
He said: “I’ve always been good at maths so I’m looking forward to going to Cambridge, which is one of the best universities in the world.”
Sir Thomas Rich’s student Greg Simkow, who arrived in England seven years ago from Poland, will study Economics at University College London after securing an A* in maths and As in further maths and economics.
Holly Swann, a Sir Thomas Rich’s student from Blakeney, achieved four A*s in maths, physics, chemistry and further maths. She will continue her studies at Exeter University.
She said: “I’m very excited to go to university and that all my hard work has paid off.”
At Gloucester Academy, staff and students marked the first set of AS results – the first year of A-level courses – since its sixth form was created last year. Although the school in Painswick Road declined to release its AS results, headteacher Showk Badat said he was “reasonably pleased” with the progress made by students in their first year.
“Although we do not have any final A-Level results to publish as we are in our first year of having a sixth form, we are reasonably pleased that most of our students have made good progress in their first year,” he said.
“We are hopeful that this will continue into our second year.”
Ben Craig, head of sixth form added: “A lot of hard work has gone into our first year and we have put a lot of effort into the development of employability and life skills.
“Seeing these first set of results is fantastic.
“It has been an intense year but we are delighted with the results.
“We now know what has gone well and what needs to be worked on next year.
“This time next year we will be looking at our first set of A-level results which is every exciting.”
Nationally, the proportion of students passing their A-levels has dropped for the first time in three decades.
The number of students receiving the pass grade had been rising year on year. That number dropped this year, from 98.1 per cent to 98 per cent.
The figures also show more students across the UK have achieved the A* gold standard than ever before.