THERE were scenes of jubilation this morning as A-level students across Newport and Torfaen picked up their eagerly-awaited exam results.

­— Newport

History was made at Newport High School when Harrison Taylor opened his results, achieving 3 A* grades and becoming the first student in the school’s history to get into Oxford University.

Harrison, 18, studied maths, further maths, and ICT at A-level, and will now go on to study economics and management at Oxford.

South Wales Argus: Harrison Taylor.Harrison Taylor.

He credited a Welsh Government programme, Seren, with preparing him for the rigorous admissions process, but said there had also been plenty of support at home.

“My parents have been really supportive and encouraging,” he said. “I think we were all completely amazed when I finally got my acceptance offer as I’ll be the first person in my family to go anywhere like that.

"My parents both went to university, but not Oxbridge, so I know they are really proud of me. I still can’t believe I’m the first person in the school’s history to get into Oxford. I’m so pleased and excited.”

Other top performers at Newport High included head girl Amber Reynolds, who will study law at Bristol University after achieving one A*, two As, and a C; head boy Andrew Flannelly, who achieved an A, a B, and two Cs and will also study at Bristol; and Claudia Hurley, whose two A* and one B grades earned her a place at Cardiff University.

Over at St Julian’s School, students arrived bright and early to pick up their results.

Among them was Alex Channing, a former South Wales Argus work experience student who is now going to study journalism at Cardiff.

South Wales Argus: Alex Channing.Alex Channing.

He said he wasn’t expecting his results or to do well in English, but achieved one A* and three As.

Joe Barnes, who achieved one A*, two As, one B and one C in his A-levels, securing him a place at Cardiff.

South Wales Argus: Joe Barnes.Joe Barnes.

Raheem Ahmed is going to study chemical engineering at Swansea University after achieving Bs in physics and chemistry, and a C in maths.

Raheem already has his sights set on his long-term future, saying that he hoped to do a Master’s degree in business following his undergraduate studies.

At Caerleon Comprehensive, Caitlin Blackburn performed brilliantly in her A-levels, achieving A* grades in English language, sociology, psychology, and the Welsh Baccalaureate.

South Wales Argus: Caitlin Blackburn.Caitlin Blackburn.

She said: “I put in a lot of work and studied hard, did loads of past papers and mock exams so when the actual exams came around I wasn’t crazy over them.”

Her impressive results have secured a place at Manchester University to study psychology.

Ethan Phillips will study biomedical science at Cardiff University after picking up an A* in the Welsh Baccalaureate and As in biology, chemistry, and mathematics.

He said “A-levels were hard and not as much fun as thought. It was difficult but the school helped.”

South Wales Argus: (L-R) Nic Brown, Ethan Phillips, and Georgia Smith.(L-R) Nic Brown, Ethan Phillips, and Georgia Smith.

Also celebrating A-level success at Caerleon Comprehensive were Nic Brown and Georgia Smith.

“A-levels were stressful but I’m happy with my results,” Nic said. He achieved one A and three Bs, and will study lighting design and technology at the University of South Wales.

Georgia said: “A-levels were very hard and challenging, but you’ve got to try your best, and I’m happy with my results.”

She achieved an A* and three Bs and will now study at Cardiff.

More than 120 university places were confirmed for pupils at Bassaleg School, with increases in the number of students achieving the top grades (A* or A) and achieving three Cs or higher.

Headteacher Victoria Lambe tweeted her congratulations to the school’s A-level students, saying: “Congratulations to every single one of our brilliant students picking up results today – you’ve worked so hard, developed into such wonderful young adults, and we are just so proud of you in every way.”

St Joseph’s RC High School tweeted a well-done message to its students, saying: “A huge congratulations to all pupils collecting results today, your hard work and determination has finally paid off. Also a great big thank you to your parents/carers, family, friends and staff for all their love and support, enjoy the rest of the summer.”

Cllr Debbie Wilcox, leader of Newport City Council, congratulated students across the city on their exam results.

"For many young people, today will be the start of a new chapter in their lives as they move onto university, other training opportunities or the world of work,” she said in a statement. “They will have worked hard to reach this point and I would like to wish them well for the future.

"It's a special day for me personally as my godson, a pupil at a Newport school, has achieved wonderful results and has a place at King's College, London, to study physics."

Cllr Gail Giles, Newport's cabinet member for education and skills, said: "Well done to all our pupils and credit must go to their teachers, other school staff and governors for their dedication and hard work as well as parents, carers and guardians for their support.

"Some students will not have got the results they wanted but I would urge them not to panic and speak to their teachers and parents about the many options and opportunities that will be available to them."

­— Torfaen

At Cwmbran High School, Anish Pradhan was among the top achievers. His four As have earned him a place at Swansea University to study aerospace engineering.

South Wales Argus: Anish Pradhan.Anish Pradhan.

Jade Rees, the school’s head girl, will study medicine at Cardiff after earning three A grades.

She said: "I can't believe it. I wasn't expecting these results.

“It was a lot of hard work.

“I'm really looking forward to going to university"

South Wales Argus: Jade Rees (left) pictured here with her Cwmbran High classmates and head of sixth form Marc Chapman (centre).Jade Rees (left) pictured here with her Cwmbran High classmates and head of sixth form Marc Chapman (centre).

Harry Lewis achieved a distinction star, two A* grades, and an A, booking a place to study literature and creative writing in Cardiff.

South Wales Argus: Harry Lewis.Harry Lewis.

Another pupil who will be heading to university is Toni O’Toole, who will study education, psychology and special educational needs at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Toni only moved to South Wales at the start of sixth form, and will now be going to university after achieving a distinction star, a distinction, and a pass in the Welsh Baccalaureate.

South Wales Argus: Toni O'Toole.Toni O'Toole.

Toni said: "I didn't think three years ago that I would be finishing sixth form, let alone going to university. It's amazing.”

Marc Chapman, head of sixth form at Cwmbran High School, said: "I'm delighted with the results.

"I'm very proud of the efforts of our staff and pupils – not only those who are going to university, but those who are going in to jobs and apprenticeships too".

Standout performers at Croesyceiliog School included Elliot Cocker, who picked up two A* grades, in sociology and maths, and As in geography and the Welsh Baccalaureate.

South Wales Argus: Elliot Cocker.Elliot Cocker.

Elliot will now study geography at St John’s College, Oxford.

Jessica Bibby also achieved four A* or A grades, and another eight Croesyceiliog pupils picked up three of the top grades.

One of them, aspiring actor Jack Fowler, will embark on a well-earned gap year before starting his studies in philosophy. He achieved an A* in religious education and As in media and drama.

South Wales Argus: Jack Fowler.Jack Fowler.

Another, Megan Warren, achieved three As and will study primary education with QTS (qualified teacher statues) at Cardiff Met.

She said: “I really wasn’t expecting this. We were being quite conservative with our expectations. I didn’t think I’d get an A in IT, so I’m really happy with that.”

Croesyceiliog’s headteacher David Taylor said he was “delighted” with the results achieved by the school’s pupils and teachers.

"As ever, our students are going on to universities across the UK, including Oxford and other Russell Group universities, to study a wide range of degree courses including accountancy, biomedical science, bio-veterinary science, computer forensics, geography, history, nursing and religion and philosophy," he said.

South Wales Argus: Croesyceiliog School head of sixth form Sian Lewis and headteacher David Taylor.Croesyceiliog School head of sixth form Sian Lewis and headteacher David Taylor.

Susannah Cullen was among the standout performers at St Albans R.C. High School in Pontypool. She achieved two As and one B, and will go on to study at Cardiff.

South Wales Argus: Susannah Cullen.Susannah Cullen.

“Congratulations to all pupils collecting their A Level/AS results today, some fantastic individual performances,” the school tweeted on results day. “Your hard work has finally paid off. Thank you to all your families and staff for all their support. Good luck for the next stage of your journey.”

Torfaen’s only Welsh-language secondary school, Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw, celebrated a 100 per cent pass rate, with 78 per cent of grades at A*-C.

Among the top performers were Esyllt Williams, who achieved A* grades in physics and further maths, and As in mathematics and the Welsh Baccalaureate; Craig Allen, who achieved an A* in Spanish and As in economics and mathematics; and Remi Adibiyi, who sat his exams while preparing to represent the UK in steeplechase at the European Under-20 athletics championships. This didn’t stop him achieving four As in mathematics, further mathematics, economics, and the Welsh Baccalaureate.

Other high achievers at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw were Chloe Russell Williams (one A*, one A, and two Bs), Lowri Prowle (two As and one B), and Ella Wilkins (one A*, one A, and one B).

“We could not have asked for more from our pupils or for more support from their family and friends, and we would like to pay tribute to that support throughout their time at school,” a statement from the school read.

Across the county, the rate of pupils attaining the level-three threshold – the equivalent of two A-levels at A*-E grades – rose from 92.3 per cent to 94.4 per cent.

Cllr David Yeowell, Torfaen’s executive member for education, said: “I would like to congratulate all learners on their exam achievements. The effort that has gone into these results should not be underestimated and I wish all our young people every success on the next step.

“It’s pleasing that 94.4 per cent of all our pupils achieved the national level three threshold and once again there have been some truly outstanding individual performances with Torfaen pupils heading off to some of the top universities in the world to continue their studies.

“From speaking to students today, it was heart-warming to hear their enthusiasm as they prepare to start university, beginning an apprenticeship or take up opportunities in the workplace.

“I must thank all our schools, teachers, pupils for their commitment and hard work in achieving these results and to the families who have supported their children throughout their education.

“This is an exciting time for these young people and I wish them every success for the future. For anyone still unsure of their next steps, there is extensive advice and support within schools and an enormous range of post-16 learning opportunities across the region to suit everyone.”

­— Wales

Across Wales, the number of learners achieving A*-A grades rose from 26.3 per cent in 2018 to 27 per cent this year, and A- C grades remained stable with an overall pass rate of 76.3 per cent.

Nearly 98 per cent of candidates achieved the Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate.

Among the core subjects, maths had the highest pass rate at A*-A, with 45.2 per cent achieving those grades.

There was an increase this year in the number of science entries, with more students achieving A*-C grades in biology, chemistry, and physics.

“We’ve seen a positive set of results this year with a historically strong performance across the board for all grades,” Wales’ education minister Kirsty Williams said on Thursday. "The record number of A*-A grades shows our top performing students are really flourishing and reaching their full potential.

“I’m also pleased to see the continuing increase in the number of students taking science subjects, which will help meet the demand in many of our key industries into the future.

“It’s a big day for everyone collecting their A-level results and I want to congratulate the students, as well as our fantastic teachers and school staff, for all their hard work that’s led up to today.”