When S6 Rachel Baird received confirmation of her results, it felt like a weight dropping off her shoulders.
When asked about her favourite moment from this difficult year, she didn’t have to think back very far:
“It was when I finished my last exam and I got all my results. It made a stressful year worth it when you got your results at the end!”
Rachel earned a full batch of five As on her qualifications this year.
She and a group of her classmates from Lossiemouth High School were recognised by their head teacher for great results on their National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications in 2021.
They recapped the highs and lows of their second pandemic-plagued year – including the thrill of christening a brand new school building – and looked ahead to their plans for the future now that they have another set of results tucked under their arms.
Early results meant an easy summer
Results day ran a bit differently this year, with students able to choose to be notified, by text, email or the traditional envelope in the post. But an even bigger wrinkle was the fact that students already knew their provisional grades before the summer holidays even began.
Barring any extenuating circumstances, the students didn’t expect those results to change. And S5 Codi Davey, who received seven As this year, said that made for a carefree summer holiday.
“It was definitely relieving to know before the summer because obviously, we could relax and not stress about it. So we got to have a relaxing summer before next year.”
Now that she’s made it through multiple lockdowns and two years of unconventional exams, she’s looking forward to a bit of normal later this month.
“I’m just looking forward to a normal structure and the year properly going as it should instead of the last few years. But it’s definitely going to be different but hopefully good as well.”
New building, new outlook
Lossiemouth High School moved into a new building in April of this year, just in time for students to return from the final lockdown. Codi’s fellow S5 Neve Erskine earned six As and one B this year.
She and her twin sister, Cara – who earned another six As and a C – said that the new building was a bright spot in a confusing year.
Neve said: “It’s given us a lot more opportunity for learning. With the brighter, new building it has us wanting to learn more. And I think if we have a full year of it next year I think it will be good for us.”
Cara added: “”It was quite stressful obviously, going into lockdown, but it was something to look forward to with the new building. We have a lot more opportunities here.”
Eyes on the future
S6 Sophie Thompson earned five As this year and said that she is looking forward to attending university in the future. She doesn’t have any particular place in mind, but she knows that she wants to study physics.
Her classmate Eugenia Dukes Ross, an S5 who earned seven As this year, has her sights set on St. Andrews University. She has a goal of leaving school early next year to begin her university career. She recently transferred from London, and depute head teacher Bob Drysdale said that she settled in and excelled straight away.
Meanwhile, S6 Emilia Trzesowska, who earned another five As, wants to study law at university. She said that the assessment schedule was difficult for her this year, because it felt like the tests came thick and fast.
“I found it very stressful finding out when the exams were, because they were quite close to the time we were told. We were expected to revise all through the year, just in case that would happen. It was very stressful actually… trying to prepare over the year for every subject.
“Our teachers were brilliant”
Emilia said that her teachers provided the support she needed to push through the year.
“Our teachers were extremely encouraging. I could just go in during my lunchtime and say I’m struggling with a topic and they would take me through it, take me through questions I wasn’t understanding.
“All my teachers were great, they were brilliant.”
Head Teacher Janice Simpson said that the respect was mutual.
“Given what all the pupils have been through, we are just in awe of the resilience and tenacity that they’ve shown in the face of adversity to pull up all the stops and work incredibly hard.”
No stigma attached to Covid classes
Mrs Simpson added that some students across the country worry about being classified differently because of how the pandemic disrupted their time in school.
They should be more valued because of what they’ve come through emotionally.”
-Head Teacher Janice Simpson
But the idea that students who have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic have somehow achieved less than their classmates in earlier years couldn’t be further from the truth, she said.
“In terms of the pupils’ mental health, they have to know that people value their last two years of work. I think there’s a real fear amongst pupils and amongst university students that people will refer to them as the COVID years, and that their results are somehow less valued.
“But they’re not. If anything, they should be more valued because of what they’ve come through emotionally.”