Truro and Penwith College students more than rise to challenge of new A Levels

Despite national fears that the new linear form of the A level qualification could make exam success much harder to come by, students at Truro and Penwith College are celebrating another set of outstanding A level results, exceeding national performance on all key measures.

Learners at the College secured pass rates of over 99% in comparison with the national pass rate of 97.9%. The percentage of those securing the top A* and A grades at the College rose again to 29%, against the national average of 26.3%. 

With over 2,500 individual A level entries, Truro and Penwith College is one of the largest providers of the qualification nationally. This year’s results will again see it confirmed as one of the best too.  

No fewer than 39 subjects achieved a 100% pass rate, including Physics, History, Biology, Literature, Law, French and Spanish. The College’s leading local and national role in STEM (Science, Technology, Maths, Engineering) education was evidenced once more, both in the quality of student outcomes, and in the volumes of entries.

For example, 241 students gained a Maths A level, 155 passed Biology, 130 were successful in Chemistry, and 90 in Physics. These successes followed earlier results in STEM subjects at the college on the International Baccalaureate and in vocational Diplomas such as Applied Science and Engineering.

However, many Humanities and Arts subjects also saw very high levels of entry, with 339 students gaining an English A level, 138 passing Geography and 126 History.

Results across the College’s two present sites, in Penzance and Truro, were again very closely matched indeed, confirming last year’s Ofsted judgements about how the exceptional and consistent quality of teaching and achievement characterises both campuses.

There were many outstanding individual success stories.

Morwenna Tamblyn from St Austell was thrilled with her A* in Biology and Mathematics as well as 3 As in French, Further Mathematics and Chemistry, which has enabled her to head off and study Medicine at Oxford University.

During her time at Truro College she took part in the College’s Medics’ Academy, which helped her with her application for Oxford.

“I chose Truro College because of its reputation, as well as the reputation of the Medics’ Academy,” she said. “I have met so many people from so many different places in my time at the College. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to do it because it’s hard. It is hard, but it’s worth it.”

Thomas Crawley from Helston secured a place to study Computer Science & Mathematics at Cambridge University after receiving an A* in Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Physics and getting A’s at AS Level in Computing and Electronics.

A delighted Thomas said: “I joined the Mathematics Academy and found the lecturers and facilities great. I loved being able to study independently while still being able to ask for help if I needed it.”

Despite securing a place at Exeter University to study Mathematics, George Olver from St Stephen is going straight into work with Philip Martin Estate Agents after getting an A* in both Geography and Business as well as an A in Mathematics.

Discussing why he decided not to go to University, George said: “When you enjoy the work, why stop? I turned University down because I enjoy my work and I wanted to stay local.”

However, he does harbour a dream to continue his studies with a real estate management degree in the future.

Twins Caleb and Finlay Taylor collected their A level results from Penwith College but now it is time for the boys to go their own way. Having been in education together for the last 13 years, their lives have now taken different paths. Whilst Finlay plans to continue his education at university where he will be studying Plant Biology, Caleb will be enjoying some international travel during his gap year before he applies next year to study International Relations.

Caleb said: “As part of my experience with the National Citizen Service social action and politics programme I was introduced to discussions about global and political issues. Combining this with my studies in World Development, Geography and Economics I now look at the world from social, economic and political perspectives from poverty to market demand. I am looking forward to studying international relations and aspire to work for the UN.”

Twin Finlay added: “I am really looking forward to my university course. One of my main motivations for choosing this course is how important plants are to our lifestyles and food supplies. With growth comes climate change, and plants are one of the main forms of protection from it. I hope to work in this continuously evolving area when I graduate.”

Commenting on the A level results, Truro and Penwith College Principal David Walrond praised in particular the way students and teaching staff had risen together to the challenge of new assessment and new syllabuses on revised linear A levels.

He said: “These are exceptional results from a cohort of learners and teachers who lived with much uncertainty, and no shortage of rather sombre commentary nationally about how things were being made tougher, more rigorous and more testing for them. I am delighted that they have proved to be notably tough themselves, and more than passed the test.”

He also attributed much of this A level success to Truro and Penwith College’s designated post-16 remit.

“When there are changes to post-16 qualifications and assessment nationally, it is the specialist nature and focus of a post-16 provider like this that allows it to react quickly and well to the new challenges. Moreover, in a Tertiary College there are strong, established communities of post-16 lecturers who bring high levels of subject expertise and experience to the service of this specific age group.

“The benefits of that are very evident in these year’s results and what they will now enable our students to go on to achieve, whether at their first choice university or in employment and apprenticeships. 

“I am delighted for our students and wish them equal success in the next phase. I am also delighted that these results support the decision to bring the quality of provision at Truro and Penwith College much closer to learners in north and east Cornwall through the development of Callywith College at Bodmin, which welcomes its first students in September. ”