Twinning is winning for brothers who rack up five A*s and an A at Havant and South Downs College
BROTHERLY love, unwavering encouragement and sheer determination.
That is the formula twins Benjamin and Ed Hall have credited for their resounding A-level success.
The 18-year-old pair, from Havant and South Downs College (HSDC), were delighted yesterday when they opened envelopes revealing they had sealed respective places at universities in London – earning A grades or above over two years of study.
Benjamin secured three A*s in mathematics, chemistry and physics – while his brother earned two A*s in geography and economics, alongside an A in mathematics.
And such success was no fluke, they said, putting it down to the special bond they have shared throughout their course of study.
‘We get jokes about us being twins all the time, but we really did put in a lot of work together over exam period – we spurred each other on constantly,’ said Benjamin.
‘I’m going on to Imperial College London now, to study physics, and that’s a subject that has always been my dream.
‘I’m glad all the stress of exams have paid off for me, but my brother has been very helpful and I’m so proud of him.'
The pair won’t be far from one another, with Ed set to study politics fewer than five miles away, at the London School of Economics.
He said: ‘We’ve definitely motivated each other over these two years, especially with maths, so I’m really happy to celebrate with [Benjamin] today. He’s done well for himself and I’m proud.'
The twins were among the hundreds of students across Havant and Waterlooville who braved heavy rain to collect their results – and they were not alone in the inspirational example they set.
HSDC student Phoenix Maas was able to draw a line beneath a difficult two years of study interrupted by illness, thanks to the results she received on Thursday.
The 19-year-old was admitted to Queen Alexandra Hospital with a bad stomach bug after her first two A-level exams – ruling her out of another – before falling unwell again.
Strong-willed, she told of how she made it to college to take her last exam – but had to sit in isolation because of her sickness.
‘The night before I was due to take one of my exams I was in a hospital bed in floods of tears because I wasn't allowed to leave,’ she said.
‘I had worked so hard for two years and put in as much effort as I possibly could, so to have that all shut down in that moment was heartbreaking.’
Having set her sights on two As and a B, Phoenix said her unfortunate downturn meant she had to ‘rationalise’ what it was possible to achieve – going on to earn a B in sociology, a C in religious studies and a D in politics.
But this, in the face of adversity and the added difficulty of having dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD, is something to be proud of – said her personal tutor and politics teacher Simon Foster.
‘It's amazing to see collecting her results,' he said.
‘The last time I saw her was ten minutes before the politics exam, which she physically had to come in and complete because of the new linear structure or she wouldn't get a grade.
‘She was very underweight and hadn’t eaten in three days. But to have battled through that and achieved what she has, under these awful circumstances, is absolutely brilliant.’
Phoenix will now take a year out, before going on to study at the European School of Osteopathy.
Elsewhere, students collected their results from Oaklands Catholic School from as early as 8am.
Wearing a smile among that contingent was Gabriella Rennie, who scored herself a dream place at the University of Sussex to study politics and international relations.
The 18-year-old earned an A in her extended project and a trio of Bs in English literature, history and psychology.
‘There has been a lot of work go into this so I’m really pleased,’ she said.
‘Growing up I’ve been taught to be aware of everything going on around me, so that’s where my interest in this subject comes from.
‘And with the world as it is at the moment, history is in the making – so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it.’
Revelling among her circle of friends after collecting results, Gabriella’s pal Holly Porter was equally pleased.
The 18-year-old will journey to Exeter next month to embark on a degree in radiography, with an A in geography, a B in English language and a C in biology to her name.
She said: ‘I’ve done a lot of work experience with doctors so I’ve developed a desire to go into healthcare over time.
‘Not only that, but there have been a number of family friends who have battled cancer, so with radiotherapy in mind, their stories have spurred me on.’
Across the two institutions, the overall A-level picture looked good. Results at HSDC were the first since the institution’s first birthday, following its launch after a formal merger last year.
Leaving principal Mike Gaston ‘absolutely delighted’, they showed an eight per cent rise in students achieving high grades A* to B and a small but welcome 0.5 per cent hike in learners passing subjects at A* to E.
‘It has been quite a year of change and our staff and students have responded tremendously,’ Mr Gaston said.
'Congratulations to all our students for their resilience, determination and success and to our teaching and business support teams for their dedication and commitment to excellence.
‘We wish all our students well whatever their destination and indeed look forward to welcoming some 4500 students to the college in the next couple of weeks to start their own successful journey.’
Oaklands headteacher Matthew Quinn said the outcome of results day at his site was a ‘fitting tribute to the sixth form team’, with 62 per cent of students earning grades A* to C and 17 per cent landing grades A* or A.
He said: ‘The results are a credit to the hard work of students and teachers alike.
‘It is fantastic to see the progress made by many of our students from entry into Year 7 through to Year 13.
‘For some an A* is a remarkable achievement, equally for others a C grade – it depends on the starting point for each student.’
And just like neighbours HSDC, Oaklands revelled in its own elite success stories.
He added: ‘Again we have had Oxbridge success. Among these are David Vahey who achieved four A*s and Eleanor Ferris who achieved three A*s’ and an A. They are both off to Oxford to study chemistry and medicine respectively.
‘These results continue to build on our established record of success and excellence across the whole range of subjects. We wish all our students completing sixth form this year every success for the next stage of their education.’