Phoebe makes her family proud as top university places soar in Gosport

A TEENAGER has defied all odds '“ including getting over a family tragedy '“ to follow her dreams of getting to university.

Friday, 17th August 2018, 1:01 am
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:08 pm
Phoebe Devonshire (19) from Titchfield with her results. Picture: Sarah Standing

The 19-year-old from Titchfield, tragically lost her dad, Francis Devonshire, while studying out in Costa Rica back in 2016.

His death brought her back to England to be with her mum Victoria and the rest of their family.

But after starting from scratch, Phoebe says she '˜can't wait to see what the future holds' after picking up her A-level results from Bay House School and Sixth Form in Gosport yesterday morning, achieving an A* in English literature, an A in maths and a B in Spanish.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She said: '˜I was in Costa Rica at an international school called United World College; it was an international boarding school and I was studying out there.

'˜My family was in England and my dad passed away when I was a month into my second year over there '“ I came home, went to Bay House and joined in Lower Sixth.

'˜As a family we've been so supportive of each other and that's been a big help.

'˜I was quite nervous about coming to the school and I remember feeling really anxious, but the teachers here have helped me every step of the way.

'˜They sorted everything and it genuinely felt as though they had my back the whole way through.'

With the Bay House staff behind her, Phoebe felt her confidence grow '“ and will now be fulfilling her dreams of studying at university.

'˜I can't quite believe the grades I've got. I really wasn't expecting this.

'˜I'm going to study PPE at Lancaster '“ it's my dream to go into politics at some point.

It will be smiles all round at the Devonshire household, with Phoebe keeping the most important people in her life at the forefront.

She said: '˜My family means everything '“ I phoned my mum and she said I'm an absolute genius.

'˜She's right, of course!'

Across Gosport, hundreds of other students celebrated the fruits of their hard work.

After AS exams were scrapped and less emphasis was placed on coursework, students felt much more pressure when it came to the final exams earlier this year.

But this hasn't stopped eight students who have secured places at two world-renowned universities.

Bay House School in Gosport saw eight students accepted into Oxford and Cambridge '“ the largest cohort heading to the top universities in the school's history.

Head of sixth form Mike Jones said the students '˜absolutely smashed' the qualifications.

'˜Once again we're delighted to have students who have achieved such high results, which reflects the hard work of the students, as well as the quality and professionalism of the staff.

'˜The work behind getting students to Oxbridge doesn't just happen in the lessons '“ the students have to prepare for the acceptance exams and subsequent interviews, so we help out with that as much as we can.

'˜Having eight students make the cut is great and they've all absolutely smashed it '“ it makes us extremely proud to serve the local community.'

One of those students given an Oxbridge place is 18-year-old William Rowland, from Fareham.

He said: '˜I was genuinely shocked that I have managed to get to Cambridge, because I really didn't think I would.

'˜I wouldn't be here without the teaching staff '“ they were an integral part of my application and I cannot thank them enough.

'˜It has been a real journey but I can't wait to go to Cambridge and study history.'

Katy Penfold, 18, from Stubbington, also collected her A-level results from Bay House yesterday morning.

She believes that the new exam system adds a lot of pressure '“ but was still pleased to get an A and two Bs.

Katy said: '˜It's come with a lot more pressure '“ I'm quite an anxious person in general and the last couple of months were really stressful.

'˜It's quite scary to not have those first year grades to fall back on, but I'm still very happy with my grades.'

At St Vincent College, students and staff were celebrating another successful year, despite a four per cent drop in grades A*-C.

Principal Matt Atkinson said: '˜The results have been really good and we're seeing the vast majority of students now go off to university.

'˜They have all done really well and we're incredibly proud of them all.

'˜The new A-level system has changed things; I think it has caused some volatility, but the important thing is that so many students have realised their potential and will be following their dreams for the future.'

Deputy principal Andy Grant added: '˜The students have progressed really well with their studies in the past couple of years.

'˜Something we've seen today which was really nice is students collecting their results, but not opening them until their friends arrived, so they could open them together.

'˜I've not seen that happen in this way before but it's great to see that togetherness from everyone.'

One of those students who celebrated their results with friends is 18-year-old Lewis Smith, from Rowner.

Lewis, who got an A* in maths, a B in further maths and a B in physics, said: '˜I was really relieved when I saw my results.

'˜I woke up at 6am in the morning feeling a little bit sick about it, so it's good to actually have the grades in my hand.

'I knew that I had worked really hard for it but wasn't expecting grades like this '“ especially for maths.'

Megan Jenkins, 18 from Hardway, got an A* in geography, an A in biology and a C in chemistry.

She said: '˜I'm really happy with my grades '“ I got a text from the University of Surrey to say I had been given a place, but the results are still a surprise, especially the A*.

'˜I'm going to study biomedical science; I've really enjoyed what I've done here at St Vincent College because it's focused on self-learning but if you need help there is always somebody there for you.'

Bryony Kitchen, 18 from Elson, said: '˜My grades are better than what I was hoping for, so I'm really pleased.

'˜I was expecting to get Bs across the board, so to open my results and see an A* in sociology and an A in communication and culture was a nice surprise.

'˜I revised a lot and felt like it went well, but you never know how it will turn out.

'˜I'm now going to the University of Portsmouth to study criminology.

Alice Kyte, 18 from Alverstoke, said: '˜It's an amazing feeling.

'˜College has been a real rollercoaster with a lot of emotional moments, but I'm really happy with how it's all turned out.

'˜I'm going to Winchester to study creative writing '“ but before that, a big group of us are heading to the pub to celebrate.'