The 2021 cohort of St John’s Upper Fifth are celebrating fantastic GCSE results this summer. They have experienced an unusual two years while studying their GCSE courses but have demonstrated that adaptability, hard work and a positive attitude can overcome many obstacles.

This particular year group holds a special place in the life of St John’s as it includes the founding members of St John’s Lower School, which first opened in 2016. As trailblazers for many St John’s ‘firsts’ – they were the first Lower Thirds, created the first U12 and U13 sports teams, and were the first Fourth Form to merge with new 13+ joiners – they might not have wished to also be the first Upper Fifth to complete their GCSEs under the TAGs process.

Throughout their time at St John’s, they have shown each other friendship and compassion on their darkest and brightest days. This collective goodwill and determination has proved incredibly helpful in navigating the uncharted waters of learning during a pandemic.

Rowena Cole, The Head, comments: “All of our pupils have faced the challenge of adapting to remote learning for large chunks of the last two academic years, but the pupils who are in their public examination courses have really had to step up to the mark. To maintain their curiosity, enthusiasm and ambition with shifting goal posts has been an added pressure but one they have responded to admirably.

It has been a collective effort between staff and pupils to minimise the impact of the pandemic’s disruption. I am thrilled that their hard work has paid off and they have the results they deserve. They have already experienced taster sessions in their A level courses, giving them a sense of what life in the Sixth Form will be like, so they’re ready to hit the ground running when the new school year begins. In the meantime, I hope they enjoy their well-earned celebrations and a rest. We can’t wait to welcome them back in September to take the exciting next steps in their school lives”.

In the Summer Term, the Upper Fifth benefited from a series of events designed to prepare them for life in the Sixth Form. The programme saw them attend A level style lessons, participate in fun and challenging team building activities and get to know the new pupils joining the Sixth Form at a sunny barbecue. They are now ready for the next ‘first’ in their school journey as many of them become the first pupils to experience St John’s all the way from Lower School to Sixth Form.

Sunset Photograph: Tom Quickfall, Upper Fifth Pupil.