Top A Level Performer Couldn’t See Parents for 11 Months


Benenden’s top performer in this year’s A Levels had to cope without seeing her parents for almost an entire year due to the pandemic.

But Freya Ridgwell, who achieved four A* grades and an A, said: “It’s been difficult but I’m not going to moan about the negative things.”

Freya, 18, said she felt “really amazing” when she opened her results, adding: “I was really pleased with it because it was unexpected this year. I did hope to get good enough results to get into university but I was surprised because I really didn’t know how the assessment process would work out.”

She added: “I was quite disappointed not to sit the actual exams. When we started A Levels that was what we were expecting and what we had prepared for so it was a shock when they said we weren’t going to have exams.”

Freya’s A* results were in Design Technology, Maths, Physics and the Extended Project Qualification, and she also earned an A in Chemistry. She will now study Design Engineering at Imperial College London.

Freya has had a particularly challenging year because she was unable to see her parents for 11 months – including the entirety of her final year at Benenden – due to restrictions on returning to Singapore where the family lives. She remained in School during Half Terms and Exeats and stayed with her UK guardian during other School holidays, including over Christmas.

Freya said: “It has been really difficult and I spent a lot of the holidays at School which is something I really didn’t think I was going to do. I spoke to my parents nearly every day through video calls but it was difficult not knowing how long it would last.

“I had so much fun at School and those of us who were in a similar position managed to support each other. The School put on really fun activities so it wasn’t too bad but it was hard not to see my parents or hug them.

“That’s been a real challenge because I didn’t know if I was going to get home this summer; I’m really glad to be home now.”

Freya joined Benenden for the Sixth Form so her entire experience has been impacted by Covid but she says she will remember her Benenden years for other reasons. “I’m not going to focus on the pandemic at all. I’m going to focus on spending time with my friends; we have had so much fun and we have made the best of it. It’s been difficult but I’m not going to moan about the negative things.”