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Hereford Cathedral School students celebrated outstanding successes again in today’s A-Level results, with nearly half of all grades awarded top grades A*/A and 50% of all students securing nothing less than a B grade in their exams.

Nine departments achieved all grades A*-B this year, with all A*/A grades in Drama, English Language & Literature and Spanish. 

The School’s Music department, which is a particular strength of the school, boasts strong results again this year, with 80% of grades A*/A. Two outstanding music students, Michael D and Holly S, both achieved a clean-sweep of A*s in four subjects – Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Music. 

Michael, who received an Associate Diploma from the Royal College of Organists at just 17, has been awarded an organ scholarship at St David’s Cathedral, while Holly, an outstanding vocalist, will go on to read Maths at University of Cambridge. She will also take up the position of second soprano with a choral scholarship at Clare College, Cambridge. This is the fifteenth consecutive year that pupils of the school have enjoyed choral and organ awards at Oxbridge.




Michael joined the school as a chorister in Year 3 and is pleased with his outstanding results today: “It’s a big relief, having had to read the news for the past week, it’s nice to finally relax! I’m very happy. It was nice not to have to sit the exams, but at the same time you lose that sense of control over what’s going to happen. My organ scholarship at St David’s will be for a year, starting in September, and I’m going through the Cambridge and Oxford organ scholarship application at the moment for September 2021. 

He credits the school’s Music department with putting him on the right path for his hoped-for future career as a professional organist: “The music department at HCS is just brilliant, Mr Evans is absolutely fantastic at what he does. I got to play the organ at St Paul’s Cathedral with the school which was a pretty amazing experience and the Chamber Choir has a fantastic sense of community.”

Holly is similarly grateful for her teachers’ support and encouragement: “The teachers at HCS have always been really supportive. I’ve always felt particularly supported by the Maths department, because they’ve always pushed me to do things like UKMT. In Sixth Form, I’ve felt really encouraged by the Music department because they encouraged me to go for the choral scholarship.”

She added: “I’m really, really happy with my results. It’s really unexpected because, especially this year, you can’t really tell what you’re going to get so it’s a really nice surprise. 

“What I’m going to miss about HCS are the opportunities I’ve had outside of Maths, so the music especially has been a big thing, and it’s been a really nice community to be a part of, I feel like I’ve made friends for life.”

Overall, the school are impressed with their students’ achievements with 100% grades A*-B in nine subjects. Headmaster Paul Smith said: “This has been an extraordinarily stressful time for Year 13 students who have been denied the opportunity to demonstrate, first hand, their knowledge and understanding of subjects that they chose to study for A-Level. I am pleased to see so many pupils awarded grades that their subject teachers felt they would have achieved had they sat the exams. It is particularly pleasing to see that the high standards achieved by previous generations have, on the whole, been matched this year. 

“I am, however, concerned that a number of students have been downgraded below what we confidently would have expected them to have achieved, and the School will do all it can to support these students achieve proper recognition for their ability in each subject that they studied.

He added: “My congratulations to all those whose hard work has been properly recognised in the awarding of their grades. As ever, I am grateful to the teaching staff who have also worked extremely hard, prior to and after lock-down, to ensure students achieved their potential.”

After the challenging upheaval of lockdown and the cancellation of their exams, the school ensured their Year 13 pupils didn’t lose focus. Hereford Cathedral School continued to make pupils’ mental well-being a priority in lockdown, introducing a Remote Enrichment Programme. The scheme provided students with the opportunity to remotely extend and develop their knowledge beyond their studies through a range of opportunities to gain new experiences, develop life skills and pursue different interests. Students were able to hear from speakers as diverse as Lieutenant General David Leakey, CMG CVO CBE and actress Natalia Tena of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones fame. Presentations ranged from Road & Personal Safety to Student Finance and Reducing the carbon footprint in Antarctica to The Philosopher’s Guide to Happiness. Read more about the school’s remote learning and enrichment programmes here.