‘Girls Should be Proud of their Achievements’ in Unprecedented Year


*Please note this information was amended on the 26th August after the Government u-turn on A Level results.

The Headmistress of Benenden School has congratulated the girls on a strong set of A Level results in a year when coronavirus disrupted the exams process.

Overall 73 per cent of grades at Benenden were at A* or A – higher than last year’s 56 per cent and consistent with the School’s trend over the past few years. An impressive 40 per cent of all grades were awarded the top A* grade and a third of the year group achieved nothing less than an A.

After the controversial Government u-turn over A Level results, the results awarded were based on the grades submitted for students by their schools – known as centre assessed grades – after exams were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Headmistress Samantha Price said: “This has been an unprecedented year for all of us, but it has been particularly stressful for those young people whose exams were cancelled. The girls at Benenden have been fantastic: they have dealt with the uncertainty tremendously well and have made full use of the extra time that they suddenly had to expand their knowledge and skills and to help others.

“I have got the utmost respect for the staff and pupils for managing what has been a very uncertain process. Our priority all along has been to do all we can to ensure that the girls gain the outcomes that are fair for them.”

Of today’s results, Mrs Price said: ” The girls have worked incredibly hard over two years towards their A Level results and should be very proud of their achievements. These are very strong results which the girls have thoroughly deserved.”

“Nobody would have wanted the results to be decided in this way and we are confident that the girls would have surpassed the grades announced today had they been able to sit their exams; nevertheless in the circumstances we are satisfied that these results are broadly in line with our expectations for this year group, albeit with some downward surprises owing to the methodology of the statistical model adopted to award final grades.

“Most importantly, the majority of girls have secured their first choice of university so we are understandably relieved that the disruption of the past few months has not jeopardised the girls’ onward journeys. The Class of 2020 have very bright futures ahead of them indeed.

“We look forward to welcoming them back to Benenden for their rescheduled leavers’ events later this year and we will keep in very close touch with them as they progress in their careers.”

As ever, among the statistics there were some wonderful individual success stories. Our top performers were Anna Chan and Antonia Webb with five straight A* grades each and Minna Moody-Stuart, who leaves Benenden with six A Levels: four at A* and two at A grade.

Six other girls achieved at least four A* grades each.

Benenden girls are now off to prestigious universities around the world, including Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial, Durham, Edinburgh, Southern California and Toronto, with courses ranging from Economics to Medicine and History of Art to Architecture.

When exams were cancelled, Benenden organised a special learning programme for the GCSE and A Level year groups that ran during the Summer Term. Entitled Leap, this programme involved academic sessions, practical courses and a programme of lectures.

Girls took part in foundation lessons in their chosen A Level or degree subject as well as an academic challenge in which they worked in teams to explore a multidisciplinary topic and record a debate.

In addition there was a range of practical courses teaching skills including Excel, coding, First Aid, food hygiene and film studies.

The third part of Leap was a range of over 40 lectures in topics as esoteric as Why is it hard to kill a fruitfly? and The Stiletto: Symbol of Oppression or Liberation? which stimulated connective and curious thinking.

Yet these weeks without revision and exams were not wholly devoted to virtual classroom learning: many students sought out ways to volunteer in their local community, undertake an Extended Project, carry out work placements and use some of the free modules offered by universities to broaden their minds and explore new areas of learning.