Ukrainian refugees among those celebrating GCSE results at Cobham Hall

Ukrainian refugees among those celebrating GCSE results at Cobham Hall

25 August 2023

Cobham Hall students are today celebrating a wealth of superb GCSE grades – some of the best in the school’s history. Among them, no-one could be happier than Yuliia, who joined the school only in September, after fleeing the war in her homeland together with her mother and younger sister, and who has today achieved no fewer than six grade 9s and two grade 8s – the equivalent of A* in the previous system. Yuliia is one of four Ukrainian refugees, sponsored by local host families, to have been offered fully supported places at Cobham Hall last year.

“It was my first year in the UK,” says Yuliia, “and in the British educational system. I was worried if I could cope with GCSEs with only one year of studying them. But all the teachers gave me revision sessions at a very high level, which was an immense help. Students as well were very friendly and helped me with some subjects. I can’t express how much gratitude I have for them.”

Yuliia’s exceptional results are among many fine outcomes at the day and boarding school, which is for girls aged 11 to 18 and is co-educational in the sixth form. Her compatriot and fellow refugee, Anna, also gained seven GCSEs after just one year in the UK system, while across the school an exceptional 29% of all grades fell in the 9-8 band. Despite the return this year to pre-pandemic grading, which has taken standards back to 2019 levels and stripped out some 300,000 top grades (7-9) nationally, at Cobham Hall 43% of grades were in this band – almost double the 22% rate achieved across England and considerably higher than in pre-Covid 2019, when the school’s figure was 36%, and an exceptional performance for a non-selective school.

With 13% of all grades meeting the ultimate gold standard – 9 – up from 8% in 2022 and 4% in pre-Covid 2019, half of all students achieved an average grade of 6 or higher, while a quarter averaged an exceptional 7 or more.

Alongside Yuliia’s fine performance, special congratulations also go to:

Nattakarn, achieving grades 9 and 8 in all seven of her subjects (9,9,9,9,9,9,8)

Amy, whose grades include one grade 9, six grade 8s and two grade 7s

Poppy, scoring 9-6 in every subject, including three at grade 9, two at grade 8 and two at grade 7

Panru, whose results include five grade 8s.

Headmistress Mrs Barrett said: “These results are truly exceptional. We are immensely proud of those students who have achieved such stellar results, and I send my heartfelt congratulations to them all. That they have done so while playing such a full and active part in school life – on stage, in our sports teams, in clubs, on expedition and helping in our local community – is remarkable. But Cobham Hall is not a selective school. Among this cohort are students whose grades may not have reached the very top bands, but are more than they ever dreamed possible, and have been achieved sometimes despite enormous life challenges. I am equally proud of every one of them.

I must also flag the outstanding performance of Yuliia and Anna, two of four Ukrainian students to whom we were delighted to offer fully supported places at Cobham Hall after their families fled the war in their homeland, and who today – after only one year of study with us – have achieved eight and seven GCSEs respectively, Yuliia having earned only the highest grades in every exam taken. To have excelled in this way against a background of such trauma and disruption is truly humbling.

As Head, it is a delight to receive such wonderful news a week after excellent A Level grades saw every single one of our students gain places at top universities – 90% at their first choice. I am immensely grateful to the staff who have supported all our students in the best possible way at every stage, and whose dedication shines through in every grade.”

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