It’s been another year of outstanding A level and vocational results at Coleg y Cymoedd as the college celebrates an impressive three Oxbridge offers and its highest ever number of offers from Russell Group universities.
Hundreds of learners have flocked to its Nantgarw, Ystrad Mynach, Rhondda and Aberdare campuses today to collect their results and celebrate their achievements with classmates and tutors.
The college, which is the largest A level provider in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, has reported high grades across both academic and vocational courses, with 86.2% of learners achieving A*-C grades as exam grading returns to pre-pandemic arrangements, up from 63.5% in 2019. The college’s A*-A grades have also gone up from 11.9% in 2019 to 36% today.
The Nantgarw-based A-level Centre has announced an overall pass rate of 99.7% per cent for 2023 with 21 out of 22 subjects having achieved a 100% pass rate including all Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology as well as English, History, Geography, Law, French and Psychology.
Following its A2 success over recent years, applications for learners to study A levels in the new academic year are also at the highest they have ever been since the campus first opened ten years ago.
As well as its strong A level performance, the college has also seen exceptional results from its vocational learners with more than 1,200 learners completing Level 3 qualifications.
Success stories from results day include triple A* learner, Carys Lewis, 18, from Pontypridd, who is headed for the University of Oxford’s Exeter College this autumn to study chemistry after landing top grades in chemistry, maths, and physics. After seeing others battling cancer, Carys was inspired to pursue a career in drug development so that she can play a role in finding cures and treatments for diseases.
Also securing a place at Oxford is Jacob Jones, 18, a budding physicist from Pontypridd who is off to study Physics at Jesus College after receiving 4 A*s in Physics, Maths, Further Maths and chemistry. Determined to increase his chances of getting a place at a world-leading university, Jacob spent last summer attending two residential summer schools at University College London (UCL) and Oxford.
He said: “Although I got good grades in my GCSEs, I didn’t think I would be good enough to go to Oxford. It was only when I got my AS grades, and my tutors reassured me I was more than capable, that I realised it could actually be an option. I’m now so excited to start university. I picked Jesus College because it’s known as the ‘Welsh college.’ Moving to Oxford will be a big change but hopefully being there will provide a sense of home.”
Another A* learner is 22-year-old Luc Jones, from Quakers Yard, who achieved an impressive triple A*s in Maths, Further Maths, and Physics, bagging a place to study Computer Science at the University of Cambridge, one of the most competitive undergraduate degrees offered by the institution. Originally studying a BTEC in Sport, Luc later realised his passions lay elsewhere, prompting him to re-sit his GCSEs and spend an extra two years in college to be able to switch to A levels and get into to a top UK university to study computer science.
Luc said: “I am so glad that I switched qualifications four years ago. While I had a great first year in college and loved my Sport BTEC, I realised it wasn’t the right path for me. I was a bit hesitant about changing courses, but my tutors were really accommodating and made my transition to A levels as an older learner seamless – it was the best decision I made. Being accepted into one of the top universities in the world is an amazing feeling!”
Over the last two years, Coleg y Cymoedd has invested significantly in its wellbeing support for learners, offering free counselling as well as dedicated one-to-one advice for anyone struggling with personal issues, from housing and finances to family problems and caring commitments. Young carers studying at the college are also offered additional support, including free meals, remote and flexible learning, help with transport and group activity days at locations like Zip World and BBC Studio tours.
One such learner is young carer, Ethan Tucker, a 21-year-old from Aberdare who has spent the last four years working towards his dream career in game production while caring for his grandparents. Initially thinking university would not be an option for him due to his grandparents’ reliance on him, Ethan’s tutors arranged for Rhondda Cynon Taf Young Adult Carers to support him with his caring responsibilities, to help make it possible. He is now excited to begin a Game Art degree at the University of South Wales this September.
Ethan said: “My tutors have not only made the practicalities of going to university possible, but they also inspired me to apply for a degree in the first place. They ignited a lot of confidence in me and helped me recognise that I’m capable of going to university. I hope I make them proud.”
Also flying the flag for the college’s vocational learners is Bethany Carter, a 17-year-old professional cookery learner, who has already been offered an opportunity to work at the award-winning hotel and restaurant, The Grove, Narberth after just one year at Coleg y Cymoedd, during which time she took home three awards at the Welsh International Culinary championships.
Bethany said: “Being at college has opened up so many opportunities for me, from awards to the very placement that led to me getting this job. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am without the college’s support!”
Jonathan Morgan, Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “As the first year that A level exams and assessments are returning to normal following Covid disruption, there was always some uncertainty around how results would look this year, but we are thrilled to see that our A* – A grades are the highest they have ever been, with a 24% improvement on our 2019 results. As a college, this year also sees our highest number of Oxbridge acceptances with three learners from our Maths and Physics classes securing places.
“The outstanding results that we have seen today, both A level and vocational, have been achieved thanks to the hard work and commitment of learners, the dedicated expert direction of subject and course tutors, as well as the comprehensive, personalised wellbeing support that we have implemented across the board.
“We are particularly proud of the excellent pastoral systems we have in place at our A level centre to guide and support learners through their studies, especially in light of the many post-covid challenges they have faced. I’d like to extend my congratulations to all learners on their successes today – they are so very well deserved!”
Rhondda Cynon Taff