Top grades double in Tower Hamlets College A-Level results

Proud vice-principal Francoise Beregovoi (far left) and principal Gerry McDonald with some of their

Proud vice-principal Francoise Beregovoi (far left) and principal Gerry McDonald with some of their top-graders: Erika Milasote, Gonul Ozmicco, Fela Maslen, Enam Ahmod, Tahmid Ali, William Johnson and Fazlay Rabbi - Credit: Archant

The biggest sixthform college in London’s East End has doubled the number of students hitting top A* and A grades in this year’s A-Level results out today.

One-in-four of the students taking AS and A-Levels at Tower Hamlets College managed grades A*, A and B.

They hit 25 per cent in top grades, compared to the national average of 23 per cent.

“It’s our best-ever A-Level results,” said Principal Gerry McDonald. “We’re especially pleased with our AS students, the first years whose results improved by 15 percentage points.”

It doubles last year’s 12 cent A-Level top-graders and even surpassed the 18 per cent the year before.

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“We dipped last year like many colleges and schools because the grade boundaries were moved,” Mr McDonald explained.

“Colleges had to get used to the new regime because the goalposts had shifted.

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“It’s now more difficult under the new grading system, so we’ve had to tighten up the entrance criteria to make sure students are ready to take A-Levels. Staff have had to focus more on what the students need to do to get through the exams, because the rules changed and we have had to adjust to that new reality.”

Exam boards came under fire two years ago from politicians at Westminster claiming standards were slipping and it was getting too easy achieving high grades.

“I never really bought into that idea,” Mr McDonald added. “There’s some evidence that standards had slipped, but exam bodies did a lot to maintain standards. I didn’t ever buy into the agenda that things got too easy.

“Teachers have got better at preparing students for the exams. We concentrate on that as well as the broader needs of the students such as work experience. It’s not just about going on to university—it’s also about employment, internships, apprenticeships and other routes so they don’t just get through their exams then have to start thinking about what’s next.”

The college, with 4,500 enrolled, also runs an access programme for older students who want to get to university.

Nursing is its biggest access course. It maintains links with universities and employers for credibility, so students follow a well-trodden path.

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