Education & Family

A-level students: Did they make the grade?

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers are finding out whether they have made the grade in their A-levels.

The BBC News website has been speaking to a few of them looking to follow very different paths.

The apprentice aeronautical engineer

Image caption Top A-level student Haziq Noah has been offered an apprenticeship with Airbus

"I've always been fascinated by planes, rockets and spaceships," says Haziq Noah, who at 18 has decided to take up an apprenticeship with Airbus in Bristol while studying for a degree at the University of the West of England.

Airbus will pay Haziq's university fees and a salary of about £13,000 a year.

He needed Bs in his A-levels for both the apprenticeship and the university place. In the end he outperformed that with an A* in maths and Bs in further maths and physics.

Haziq, who was head boy at Hampstead School in north London, was slightly disappointed with the Bs but says: "I am so relieved it is finally over and am looking forward to lots of going out with friends before starting on the next three years of hard work."

He was attracted by the idea of learning and earning at the same time. He will spend much of his time working at Airbus' base, while also studying at a college for his degree.

"I get to work and experience what it's like to be an aerospace engineer right away. What appealed to me most was getting a degree as well as three years' work experience.

"Lots of people have degrees now - you need something to make you stand out."

Learning for art's sake

Image caption Isabella Manning needed three Bs to study art history and Italian at Edinburgh

"I have always been into art and while I was doing AS-level history I studied the Renaissance. I just became so inspired by Michelangelo and Botticelli and so many other amazing geniuses that I started reading about the period," says Isabella Manning.

"They don't offer history of art as a subject at my school so I started a history of art society and organised all sorts of art historians to come and talk to us."

Such enthusiasm paid off with an offer of three Bs for Isabella, from Wells Cathedral School in Somerset, to study history of art and Italian at Edinburgh University.

In fact Isabella got two A*s and an A in English, history and French: "I am so happy. All my friends got the grades they need so we are all celebrating together.

"I am so excited about going to Edinburgh. The degree leads into all sorts of things but I don't know what I want to do after university," says Isabella.

Twin heads for business

Image caption Ashley Fairman (left) and his twin brother Adam are heading for business careers

"I am relatively happy with the results, even though they're a bit below what was predicted," says 18-year-old Ashley Fairman.

Ashley has already started work as a trainee with an accountancy firm near his home in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.

"It's going really well, I really enjoy it. I quite enjoy the routine".

Ashley got a B grade in A-level geography and Cs in business and economics; he had needed three Cs for the five-year apprenticeship.

"I was really chuffed when I got the offer. It was when we had an accountant come into school to talk to us that it clicked for me as something I wanted to do."

Brother Adam has had his place to study business management at Brunel University confirmed - but is wavering and may decide to follow his brother straight into work.

Brunel accepted him despite the fact that he didn't quite meet their offer of three Bs. He got B grades in business and geography but a D in biology, a subject he found tougher.

He has been to an interview with a recruitment firm and will decide what to do once he hears back from them.

"Obviously the costs have gone up for university and we're always being told that first-hand experience is so valuable. So I am looking for a position where you can get first-hand experience and get paid for it. A lot of trainee management posts include qualifications, just not a degree."

Adam says he would not be worried about missing out on university: "I would love the social side but I wouldn't be jealous of students having to pay off all that money."

Stunt driver or criminology student?

Image caption Kelly needs to decide between stunt driving and a degree

"The most likely thing will be that I concentrate on stunt driving as a career," says Kelly Bird, who has a place at Northumbria University and a big decision to make.

She has been driving cars since she was eight and now, at 18, has been offered a franchise to run a stunt driving school for Stunt Driver UK - but she also has a degree place to study criminology and forensic science.

"I have kept the place open but I don't know yet whether I will take it. I could possibly do the degree while running the franchise but it would be a lot of hard work," says Kelly.

A trained stunt driver who has already appeared on television, she did A-levels in economics, English language and psychology at Teesside High School.

Kelly is dyslexic and gets extra time in exams. "I struggled a bit at school, with reading particularly, but the school helped a lot."

Her parents, both former rallycross and autocross drivers, got her started at the age of three when she started driving go-karts.

The Oxbridge lawyer

Image caption Toby achieved the grades needed for a place at Oxford

"I got into Oxford and actually exceeded my offer. I can't wait to start. It's brilliant," says Toby Willcocks who achieved an A* in English literature and A in both history and RE. He also got an A in AS-level critical thinking.

Toby will be reading law at St John's College, Oxford, and is looking forward to freshers week at the beginning of October.

He is about to head off to Cornwall for a surfing holiday but says: "I have so much reading to do now. That's what's going to take up most of my time between now October."

Toby had tough offers from five top universities to study law - but as they were all for three As he knew that if he didn't make the grade for Oxford he would have to reapply next year.

Toby has spent most of the summer working as a waiter to earn some money to help him through university after leaving Richard Huish College, a sixth-form centre with more than 2,000 pupils in Taunton.

Future barrister staying at home to study

Image caption Sobia Umar will live at home to study law at the University of Birmingham

"I was really nervous but it went well so I am happy now," says 18-year-old Sobia Umar from Birmingham, who got three As in her A-levels and will be starting a law degree at Birmingham University this autumn.

Sobia needed two As and a B from Birmingham Metropolitan College to be accepted on to the course.

"I have always wanted to be a lawyer, a barrister, and Birmingham is a good university, getting good results," she said.

She says money played a part in her decision to stay in the city, although her two older sisters have also opted to study for degrees there.

"I would have enjoyed getting away, having independence and freedom - it helps you grow up. But with the fees going up I could not have afforded it."

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