There was joy for some but ongoing uncertainty for others in Northern Ireland as GCSE results were issued while the release of Btec outcomes was delayed.
At Ashfield Girls School in east Belfast pupils arrived at staggered intervals throughout the morning to allow for social distancing.
Caitlin Martin, 16, was delighted with her GCSE results which will allow her to return to school for A-levels, but is continuing to wait for her Btec result.
“I’ve done very well, I got similar to what I got in my mocks so that was very good,” she told the PA news agency.
“I’ve been very worried thinking that they might not go that well, but I’m very happy with how they have gone so I’ll be coming back to school, which I was set on, and now I have the results. I’m happy to know that.
“I’m also waiting for a Btec result, just one, but I’m hoping to do well in that as well. It’s sad not to be able to celebrate with my friends in school today but we’re all doing well with the Covid guidelines.”
Tija Petruseviciute, 16, was also pleased with her results.
“I did better than I expected, I thought I was going to get results that I wasn’t going to be proud of, but it turned out when I opened my envelope that I got the results that I wished for, that I really wanted, so I am very happy with them,” she said.
“I’m hoping to go down the artistry route, photography, art and ICT. In my future I want to be a graphic designer.
“I’ve been stressing because of what happened with the A-level results, I thought I was going to get marked down even though I have put so much work in, but I wouldn’t pass. I wasn’t hopeful but after seeing my results today I’m really proud.”
Ashfield Girls principal Louise Hanvey said the school was generally happy with the centre-assessed grades for GCSE students.
The move came after Education Minister Peter Weir abandoned plans to use centralised standardisation following an outcry over last week’s A-level results.
The usual exams were cancelled this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We feel that that is a fair reflection on pupils’ ability, therefore it seems a fairer system given the unprecedented circumstances that we are in,” she said.
“If you don’t have an exam, it’s a bit like the Grand National – if you don’t have a Grand National, how do you judge which horse is going to win? You study the form, the past attainment, you look at everything and you make your best-case scenario judgment, and teachers in Ashfield have really looked and worked through rigorous quality assurance process that we have.
“They know the young people and they know on a good day what they could have achieved.
“Overall our results have increased, we have been on an increasing trend anyway. That has been good for our young people but they are grades that we had predicted, using evidence that they would get on a good day.”
Mrs Hanvey said no teacher would predict a grade a student would get on a bad day.
“That’s the human side to this – it’s not a surprise they have went up slightly but I think you might find there are not too many of the grades that have gone up a lot, it would be borderline young people, maybe a B, C or a C, D.
“But no teacher is going to base it on a bad day’s performance.”
Around a third of exam entries at Ashfield Girls were through Btec.
“It only impacted on one student who is still waiting to find out if they have a place to come back in sixth form – all other students still had the criteria to come back even without their Btec,” she said.
“But at the same time that one person who is still waiting is upset and now has to wait a longer time than they would normally have waited. It’s more the disappointment that the young people thought it was sorted, and today would be easy going.”