STUDENTS at The Hathershaw College in Oldham have achieved the highest GCSE grades in three years, despite the pressures of the pandemic.

Mark Giles, the principal at The Hathershaw College said this year’s results are “almost identical to what they were three years ago in 2018”, even though most Year 11 students spent more time in self-isolation than the classroom during the Autumn term.

From September to December some pupils were put through up to five rounds of self-isolation due to catching Covid-19 and the bubble system, according to the head teacher.

Under Covid regulations children were forced to self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble tested positive for coronavirus. From Monday, August 16, under 18s will not need to self-isolate after close contact with someone who has Covid-19.

Two thirds of the departing year 11 students are heading to Oldham Sixth Form College to do A-levels with aspirations to go to university.

Among the school's top students is Hafsa Shahnaz who has been in and out of hospital over the last year but still managed to do well in her GCSEs.

She said: “I have found it very hard to keep up with everything we have been doing. But I’ve done well considering, it’s been challenging."

She added that her mum Shahnaz, her “biggest supporter”, has kept her motivated and told her to “always keep going”.

Hafsa is “excited” to start at Clarendon Sixth Form College in Ashton and plans to go into marketing. 

Emma Palmer meanwhile cared for her grandmother throughout her GCSEs. Emma said she has done her late grandmother “proud” and is looking forward to study beauty at Oldham College.

Rhys Williams, another pupil at the school,  recently lost two family members, but never "complained" and remained "polite and well mannered" throughout the academic year, according to the school.

Mark Giles, the principal at The Hathershaw College, said: “I am delighted for the students. They have been through so much over the last two years, losing a member of their year group in a tragic accident and then experiencing the disruption caused by the pandemic. Despite this, they have remained a fantastic cohort and caused me very few problems.”

On November 26, 2019 a year 10 pupil at Hathershaw College died after being hit by a car on his way to the school.

Mr Giles added: “I also want to acknowledge the huge role played by teachers who have risen to the challenge of remote education and for the extra marking they have done of assessments to help determine GCSE and BTEC grades. In addition, the pastoral needs of the young people have been well served by a number of non-teaching colleagues.”