Published: 11:15, 13 August 2020
| Updated: 15:13, 13 August 2020
Teenagers across Kent are getting their A-level results - but don't expect all the traditional sobbing and hugging at the school gates this year.
Social distancing measures and the ongoing threat of coronavirus mean many schools have decided to stay closed and send out grades instead.
Headteachers and students react to A-Level results
This year, the results have been predicted by teachers and checked over by exam boards after exams were called off back in March.
The move has been criticsed by several headteachers including Bruce Grindlay from Sutton Valence in Maidstone who said: "The government felt the need to achieve a spread of results nationally to match the normal spread of statistics, but students are not statistics and can't be treated as such."
For Simon Langton in Canterbury it was another successful year with students taking up places at Harvard, Oxford, UCL and King's for a wide range of subjects.
But deputy head teacher Paul Pollard also reflected on what's been a difficult year for many. He said: "We must recognise that this has been a time of unprecedented uncertainty and confusion, when it is not so much the goalposts being moved but the rules of the game being changed mid-game.
"Whilst the majority of our students will have gained the places that they have been working for, for all there is still a cloud of uncertainty of what could, and in numerous cases should, have been with their results.
"In the coming days, students will look to their school for answers to their many questions; as is too often the cases in recent months, schools will know little more than they do.
"However, what goes without question is that the students will receive the support and guidance they need, regardless of the confusion and uncertainty created by a government making decisions seemingly ‘off the cuff’.
"But firstly, and most importantly, today is about celebrating the success of the Langton family and taking time to recognise our students’ efforts, successes and fulfilled aspirations. We could not be more proud of each of them, both for how they have dealt with the past-months, but also for all they will undoubtedly achieve in the coming years.
"Knowing the young people that they are, the passion and integrity they possess, is a far stronger ‘vaccine’ for an uncertain future than any number of governmental pronouncements."
For Anna Goodwin and Lowena Hayter from Barton Court the exams being cancelled was somewhat of a relief as they collected their results from the school in Canterbury today. There was also celebrations for students in Gravesend and Dartford and in Sittingbourne and Sheppey too. Wye school in Ashford celebrated its first lot of results having only opened seven year ago.
Any while many schools adapted with elbow bumps instead of handshakes and special zones for collection, others stayed closed today. Not a soul could be seen at Sir Roger Manwood’s Grammar School in Sandwich.
Students would usually be seen piling out of the school hall waving their exam results but instead the doors are firmly closed with metal rails also in place.
Parents would usually wait anxiously in cars along both sides of Manwood Road but not in 2020. Just a handful of cars appear parked up, perhaps those of staff.
This scene was replicated at Sandwich Technology School, Harvey Grammar and Brockhill Park in Folkestone.
The North School in Ashford has a statement on its website reading: "The results will be sent electronically to students by e-mail.
"Do not come to the school to collect results."
The pandemic has thrown all sorts of challenges for the Class of 2020, with one student from Greenacre in Chatham juggling working as a key worker with his studies, the change in the marking system with in the last few days is the latest.
For those who don't get what they were expecting there is plenty of advice on what to do next, including clearing to get into university.
In a joint statement, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Richard Long, and Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education, Matt Dunkley, said: “On behalf of everyone at Kent County Council we would like to say a massive ‘congratulations’ to all pupils receiving results today in Kent.
"We know the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have had a huge impact on your lives and your schooling and it is a credit to yourselves and your families that you have worked hard through these extremely difficult times and can deservedly receive your qualifications today.
“We must also thank all school leaders, teachers and support staff who went above and beyond to ensure pupils were able to continue working towards their post-16 qualifications even when schools were closed to the majority of pupils during the height of the pandemic.
“Every year there will be some pupils who did not receive the results they were hoping for and we would encourage these young people, and their parents or carers, to speak to their schools as soon as possible to find out what their options are.
“We would like to wish all pupils every success in the next step along their career paths, whether they are remaining in education, beginning an apprenticeship or moving into the world of employment.”