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Joy for Islington pupils as they celebrate GCSE successes

This year’s cohort of young people have triumphed in the face of adversity, as more than two-thirds of their GCSE studies have taken place since the first Covid-19 lockdown, resulting in bubble closures, self-isolation and online learning.Every pupil has been supported by a fantastic network of teachers, school staff, parents and carers, with help from Islington Council, local charities and businesses donating computers to tackle the digital divide experienced by thousands of Islington’s young people and families.

Berkay Benjamin Karakas of St Aloysius' College celebrates his GCSE results.

Pupils at City Of London Academy Highgate Hill and St Aloysius’ College were joined by Islington Council Leader Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz and Cllr Michelline Ngongo, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, to applaud their extraordinary efforts.Among those celebrating at City of London Academy Highgate Hill was student Sharlene Cera. She said: “During lockdown I was taught lots of things like time management and self-discipline, which helped me to cope with these mini-assessments, because I was able to study just in time for them.”
Sharlene, who will be taking maths, economics, physics and computer science A levels, added: “I felt really relived because all my hard work has paid off; I felt really happy. I’m going to have a calm night and maybe we’ll have some cake!”

Fellow pupil Nicole Ortiz, who is going on to study the same subjects as Sharlene, said: “I studied quite hard, I dedicated a few hours of each day to studying for my GCSEs, but it was all worth it. I am very happy and proud of myself. It’s a big accomplishment that will stay with me forever."
Isadora Figuccio said she was happy her hard work has reaped rewards, adding: “I’m going to do A levels – I’m doing drama, psychology and English literature. I’m really happy with all these subjects and luckily I got the grades. I’d like to see how psychology goes and hopefully do that at uni.”

At St Aloysius’ College, student Berkay Benjamin Karakas got the results he needed to study subjects related to a career in medicine. He said: “I feel ecstatic; these results are a reward for all my hard work and to be honest, though it’s been a challenging year for everyone, we’ve all pulled through, and the teachers here have been tremendously great in helping us.
“My parents are super-happy of course, they’ve helped me so much. I couldn’t have done it without them. They’ve definitely helped me stay on track.”
Lawrence Andoh said he felt “a bit overwhelmed” with his results, and planned to celebrate with his family, adding: “I’m looking to go to sixth form and study biology, psychology and sociology – obviously I’m going to try and enter into neurophysiology, so I am hoping that goes well.”
Bat-Erdene Dorj said: “I’ve worked hard for this; there were many late night sessions and being able to see my results is... I can’t explain, it’s amazing. I’m going to study maths, further maths and physics and hopefully start the next stage of my life.”
Cllr Ngongo said: “Meeting many students today, I was struck by their dedication, resilience, enthusiasm and ambition to make their mark in the world.
“All our GCSE students have faced real challenges throughout their courses, so in many ways the fantastic results they have achieved are an even greater triumph for them.
“I know how hard the teachers, parents and entire education community have worked to support them through this too, and they should be just as proud of helping to create a fairer Islington, where children and young people have the best possible start in life. Congratulations to everyone involved.”
For students unsure of their next steps, the council’s team of friendly career advisors are standing by to offer practical support, advice and information, to help to secure a place at college, on training courses or job opportunities.
Students can get in touch with our Progress Team of advisors throughout the summer by phone, email, and in person.  The Progress Team can be contacted at progress@islington.gov.uk or on 020 7527 7031.
During the pandemic, Islington Council supported all Islington schools to reduce the digital divide by working with local charities and business groups to purchase additional laptops for vulnerable pupils. These laptops were in addition to the digital devices provided by the Department for Education (DfE).
Islington Council was able to source these additional resources for schools before the second lockdown of schools from January to March 2021. Schools were prepared to support pupils as remote learning policies were already in place, as outlined by DfE guidance to schools.

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