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Petchey Academy A-level results: Students vent anger at Michael Gove’s new exam syllabus

PUBLISHED: 12:20 17 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:04 17 August 2017

Petchey Academy principal Olivia Cole with former student principal Jay Popkin. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Petchey Academy principal Olivia Cole with former student principal Jay Popkin. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Emma Bartholomew

“How much can I criticise Michael Gove?” Petchey Academy’s outgoing student principal Jay Popkin asks when the Gazette interviews him about his outstanding A-level results this morning.

Hamza Simba at the Petchey Academy. Picture: Emma BartholomewHamza Simba at the Petchey Academy. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Jay has secured a place to read maths at Warwick University with the four A* grades he gained at A-level in maths, further maths, physics and history.

But he feels the new exam syllabus has caused “a lot of stress, strain and mental health issues” for many of his classmates at the Shacklewell Lane school.

“A lot of my friends haven’t done as well as they hoped and I feel like the examiners making the new specifications aren’t being put under the proper scrutiny,” he said.

“They aren’t necessarily providing everything pupils need to succeed. You get one or two mock papers you can do at home and that’s it.”

Tasnim Choudury at the Petchey Academy. Picture: Emma BartholomewTasnim Choudury at the Petchey Academy. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

He feels lucky physics was the only subject he studied with new content this year, but has been going “flat out” for the past three months to get the grades he did.

“I was expecting I wouldn’t be going to uni because Warwick made an unbelievably high offer to begin with of three A stars,” he said. So why maths?

“Am I allowed to say I want to study maths just because I’m good at it?” he asked. “I’m not going to give some long-winded answer about the beauty of maths and how everything in the world is connected by maths – I just like to do it.”

Tasnim Choudhury, meanwhile, was on the phone to clearing to try and get a place to read psychology at Westminster after getting lower results than predicted.

The Petchey Academy. Picture: Emma BartholomewThe Petchey Academy. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Tasnim has an unconditional offer to study psychology at the University of East London, but is angry with the new system.

“I feel it’s really stressed students out and takes them towards failure, because of the lack of support,” she said.

“You don’t really know what you are meant to do. I felt my exams went so much better than my results.

“There wasn’t much for us to go on in terms of practising, or just understanding the layout of the exam because of the lack of material. In the old syllabus there were a lot of exam practice papers but in this one we only had one.”

Vera Boateng at the Petchey Academy, before she had opened her A-level results. Picture: Emma BartholomewVera Boateng at the Petchey Academy, before she had opened her A-level results. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Hamza Simba, from Dalston, had a big smile on his face, though, with the A he secured in maths and Bs in chemistry and biology. He found out online at 7.30am this morning he has a place to study engineering at Nottingham.

“It was a lot of work,” he said. “I worked a lot harder in the second year. At the start I didn’t get my notes done so at the end I had to cram notes and memorise.

“I like the academic side of engineering, and the applications of the subjects I do would be good and there are widespread career paths you can go into.”

Vera Boateng from Overbury Street, also in Dalston, was waiting to open her exam results in her mother’s presence to find out if her grades are good enough to get an internship on Accenture’s management consulting graduate scheme.

Jay Popkin at the Petchey Academy - very pleased with the four A stars he earned at A-level. Picture: Emma BartholomewJay Popkin at the Petchey Academy - very pleased with the four A stars he earned at A-level. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

But she had already found out through a text at 6am this morning she had a place to study radiotherapy and oncology at Hertfordshire University.

“I haven’t slept since 3am,” she said. “I’m nervous today.”

“I’m happy. At least I got into uni but I’ll be over the moon if I get the internship.”

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