On an exam results day with a difference, we speak to pupils at two of Aberdeen’s private schools about how the year has been.
A Paralympian from Aberdeen is celebrating academic success as she prepares to jet off to Japan.
Aberdeen athlete Toni Shaw from Albyn School has proved she is an ace in the classroom as well as the swimming pool after securing four A grades in this year’s results.
The Team GB star secured top marks in higher biology, advanced higher business management and higher and advanced higher PE.
She will go onto the University of Stirling to study business and will begin her course just a month after arriving back from the far east.
Toni said: “This has been a challenging year but I am really happy with my results and now looking forward to Tokyo and to going to Stirling University.
“Online learning was great, but it was not the same as being able to see everyone face to face so it was nice to be in school again and get to spend time with all my friends again properly before we finished school for the last time.”
Headmaster’s praise for Paralympic star
Stefan Horsman, the headmaster at Albyn, said: “We are all so proud of Toni here at Albyn School. Throughout her time with us, as well as achieving top grades in her academic studies, Toni has balanced this with her intensive training schedule.
“In S3, she competed in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia where she reached four swimming finals including finishing fifth in both the Women’s S9 100m backstroke and S9 100m freestyle.”
Nichola Crawford, deputy head and former director of sport, said: “Toni is a true inspiration for us all – she managed to keep up with her studies while training to bag a spot on Team GB at the Paralympics.”
Toni was not the only Albyn pupil celebrating top marks with Omar Sharkas gaining five A grades in human biology, engineering science, French, maths and physics.
After leaving the Queens Road school, Omar is moving on to Edinburgh University to study mechanical engineering.
Hashim secures ‘dream’ university place
Robert Gordon’s College sixth-year pupil Hashim Iqbal achieved three advanced higher A grades in maths, physics and computing science.
The trio of results means he has secured at place at St Andrews University to study computer science, which he said is his “dream.”
Hashim said: “The main challenge for me this year was finding a way to improve my prelim results before the final end of year exams.
“The resources and opportunities provided by the school have helped inspire my decision to study Computer Science at the University of St Andrews at a further level and pursue my dream.”
Results are ‘better than I could’ve ever imagined’
Ren Ferguson has also left Robert Gordon’s College after securing an A grade in higher drama, B in higher psychology, the same mark in higher religious, moral and philosophical studies and a C in advance higher music.
The sixth-year pupil wants to be a drama therapist and will go on to study theatre at college before going onto further studies.
Ren said: “As an outcome of my results I’ve been accepted into a theatre course at college which will prepare me for going on to study drama therapy in London in a few years. I would like to be a drama therapist, working with the NHS as there are only a few in Scotland.
“During S2-S4 I suffered from mental health issues that affected my ability to attend school.
“However, the school offered me so much support and with the help of the teachers and nurses I was eventually able to achieve grades better than I could’ve ever imagined.”
Pipe band major hits all the right notes with results
Robert Gordon College’s pipe band major Alexandra Smith secured eight A grades in her national 5 subjects.
The fourth-year pupil landed top marks in mathematics, English, chemistry, biology, physics, Spanish, French, and geography as she tries to become a vet.
Alexandra said that one of her favourite parts of school is the pipe band and credits it with giving her “confidence and discipline” which helps her with learning.
She said: “It took me a while to adapt to online remote learning but I feel by the end of it I had improved my motivation and concentration and was more able to study and work efficiently independently.
“My teachers have encouraged me to follow my plans to study veterinary medicine and have helped me to choose higher subjects that will help me in the future.”
Head of college: ‘A phenomenally difficult year’
Robin Macpherson, head of Robert Gordon’s College also paid tribute to the work put in by pupils and teachers during the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “This past year has been phenomenally difficult for everyone in education, so I am tremendously proud of our pupils for what they have achieved.
“They kept working through the changing circumstances of the pandemic, and the complexity of SQA assessment arrangements, and for that they deserve a huge amount of credit.
“We should never forget that we started the academic year being told there would be traditional exams, and had to totally change things as the weeks progressed.
“It put staff under a substantial amount of pressure, and they had to shoulder the workload of the assessment marking. It was therefore a great collective effort, and our pupils can take real pride in every grade they achieved.
“They had to overcome so many obstacles but they did it with great tenacity.”