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Boys achieve A-level success in ‘hugely challenging year’

Tonbridge School Headmaster James Priory has offered his congratulations to boys for achieving an excellent set of A-results.

More than 70 per cent of all results have been graded at A*/A, and 93 per cent of grades are A*, A or B (or their Pre-U equivalent). 

A total of 21 Upper Sixth boys achieved a remarkable ‘clean sweep’ of A* or equivalent grades. An impressive 42% of all students achieved solely A*-As or equivalents.

Mr Priory said: “We are extremely proud of all that the boys have achieved in a hugely challenging year. We are particularly pleased that the large majority have been successful in securing their first-choice university destination.  

“This year’s public exam results have been the source of considerable confusion and anxiety for everyone involved, especially for students and their parents. Like so many schools and colleges, we have followed the Centre Assessed Grade process with integrity and in good faith. We welcome the decision to award Centre Assessed Grades, therefore, but we also recognise, given that students did not have the opportunity to prove themselves in the exam hall this summer, that the process has not served every individual well.

"We are working hard to support all our students in the next stage of their education.”

The Upper Sixth cohort at Tonbridge will now be taking up places at many of the UK’s leading universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, London School of Economics, Edinburgh, Durham, St Andrews, Bristol, Bath, Queen’s University Belfast, University College London, King’s College London, Exeter and Southampton. 

A significant number have chosen to study abroad, particularly in the US, and will be attending a range of prestigious universities including Chicago, Duke and Vanderbilt, as well as the University of Hong Kong.

Mr Priory added: “I am full of admiration for the way in which our Upper Sixth continued to apply themselves to their studies throughout the lockdown, as well as engaging so impressively in the Pre-University courses we offered. They have made a fine contribution to the intellectual, pastoral and co-curricular life of the school, and everyone at Tonbridge looks forward to following their progress at university and beyond.”
 


‘Tonbridge Portraits’
Some of our Upper Sixth leavers look back on their Tonbridge days, and also look forward to the next stage in their educational careers and in their lives.

Edward Sanders
Musician, mathematician, England fan

A-levels
Maths, Further Maths, Spanish

Destination and degree
I'll be studying Mathematics with Spanish at the University of St Andrews.

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
I have really enjoyed studying both Maths and Spanish due to the amazing teaching staff in both departments. Dr Wang, in particular, really inspired a passion for Maths when he taught me last year, due to his engaging style and contagious enthusiasm. 

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? 
Tonbridge has been a brilliant experience that’s very difficult to sum up! I would say that the music at Tonbridge has been an amazing aspect of the school. There have been so many opportunities to perform in different ensembles on a regular basis, from playing Beethoven symphonies to Abba musicals, and even performing at Cadogan Hall in London.

Is there one particular highlight?
Winning the House Music Cup with Oakeshott in my final year. So much work went into putting together the performance, and on the day the feeling of knowing that we had nailed it was terrific. Watching England beat Wales in the Euros in the last minute, when I was in Novi with about 300 of us packed into the theatre, was also great!

What advice would you give to a boy starting in the Novi this year?
Appreciate everything that the school has to offer, from the facilities to the sports to the academics. Once you leave you’ll realise just how fortunate you were to have had so many opportunities at your disposal.

Anything else you’d like to add …?
For me the best and most important thing about Tonbridge is the teaching staff, all of whom are passionate about their subject and at the same time kind and inspirational people. It really is a privilege to have world-class teachers.

 

Alex Tennant-Holder
Scholar, diplomat, wants to see the world

A-levels 
Mandarin, History (Late Modern), Philosophy and Theology, Government and Politics

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
Mandarin and Politics; the former was interesting due to the nature of the language as well as the range of culture and history that we've studied. The latter appealed to me because I've always been intrigued by what's going on in the world and how countries function. Great teachers are also a bonus!

Destination and degree
I have a place at Oxford – I visited the city when I was younger and enjoyed my time there. The quality of the teaching and the learning environment hugely appeal to me as well. I will be studying Chinese (a course which includes a year spent in China itself) – something I'm really looking forward to. 

What are your career aspirations?
Perhaps a career in the fields of diplomacy, journalism or law. Overall I'd like to do something I enjoy! I’d also like to go travelling for a year before I enter the workplace. 

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? 
My time at Tonbridge has been great from start to finish – I count myself very fortunate for having been given the opportunity to be at the school in the first place. There are many things I like about the school, but what stands out most is the level of support from teachers.

What has Tonbridge taught you?
Tonbridge has taught me a great number of things, including to listen well, to always persist with things even when they're not going amazingly well, and to have respect for everyone, regardless of conflicting views. I will look back on Tonbridge very fondly indeed.
 
What advice would you give to a boy starting in the Novi this year?
The first term or so in the Novi is exhausting, but it's important to try to get involved with as many things as you can. Always remember that things will settle quite quickly and that Saturday school isn't all that bad!

 

Wesley Adamo
Business-minded, enjoys sports and good weather, US-bound
 

A-levels
Maths, English, Philosophy and Theology

Destination and degree
I will be attending Vanderbilt University in the US. I was initially attracted to the US university system because of the liberal arts focus, enabling students to explore a variety of their interests before deciding what they want to major in.

As for Vanderbilt, Nashville is an amazing city with lots of job opportunities and great weather!

I am intending to major in Human and Organisational Development and take a minor in Business.

What are your career aspirations?
I would love to combine my interests in business and sports by working in the sports management industry.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? 
Unforgettable. I am extremely grateful for the amazing experience I have had at Tonbridge. I have been so fortunate to build amazing relationships within the boarding house, across the school and on the sports field.

Is there one particular highlight?
I would say going on a school exchange trip to India after my GCSEs. Studying in a completely different country for six weeks was an eye-opening experience and it is something I will never forget.

What has Tonbridge taught you?
Tonbridge has helped me realise that education is about so much more than what happens in the classroom. The school also taught me the importance of time management in order to balance all of my interests and activities, while still being able to achieve success.

What advice would you give to a boy starting in the Novi this year?
Don’t refrain from participating in activities just because they seem new or uncomfortable. Many activities which were initially outside of my comfort zone ended up being the ones I enjoyed the most.

 

Tubosun Odunuga
Likes numbers, Philosophy and independent thinking

A-levels 
Philosophy and Theology, Spanish, Chemistry 

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
I particularly enjoyed studying Philosophy and Theology, due to the subject allowing me to think independently and critically as well as develop my own ideas on various subjects and issues. I also thoroughly enjoyed Spanish: learning about a new culture and language has been a great experience.

Destination and degree 
I will be attending the University of Durham to read Accounting and Finance. The sporting and academic facilities at Durham stood out to me. 

What are your career aspirations?
I would like to go into work in the financial sector. As of now I think it would be in banking but I’m still unsure as to what specific role. 

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
I would like to return home to Nigeria and work there, again hopefully in the financial sector.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? 
My time at Tonbridge has been a really fun experience. For me, the best aspects have been the little things such as going down to the Astroturf and playing football with the House, or events such as the Christmas dinner at the end of Michaelmas Term. 

Is there one particular highlight?
Being awarded an honorary scholarship by the Headmaster at the start of my Lower Sixth year has been my proudest moment at Tonbridge.

What has Tonbridge taught you?
The biggest thing, which you learn as you progress up the school, has been a sense of independence. Once you reach Sixth Form the responsibility lies on you to meet deadlines for work. There will no longer be teachers or housemasters chasing you around to hand things in on time. 

What advice would you give to a boy starting in the Novi this year?
Your time at Tonbridge would be best spent if you try out new things, be these sport, societies or other activities.

Anything else you’d like to add …?
Even though Tonbridge life can be pretty busy and even hectic, sometimes try to slow down and truly enjoy it. Because five years can go by pretty fast.

 

Ollie Poole
Scientist, entrepreneur, Aerospace Challenge champion


A-levels 
Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
Further Maths and Physics. I found solving difficult problems very enjoyable, which Maths gives you the tools for, and Physics the critical thinking skills.

Also, there are a vast amount of supercurricular activities and challenges to get involved with in the Physics Department which, if you put the work in, are very rewarding.
 
Destination and degree
Oxford and Physics. Aside from the fantastic Physics Department there, I loved the idea of a college system and being catered for! The city itself really appealed to me aesthetically, and it felt like there was a whole lot more going on other than just the university.

What are your career aspirations?
To start off in the City in the finance sector or working on a technology development, and progress towards being an entrepreneur. 

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
Starting my own business.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? 
It’s been amazing. The enormous breadth of opportunities, from playing rackets to being in the Symphony Orchestra, have allowed me to stretch myself and develop my skills.

Even in more difficult times, when you’re thrown a curveball, you always come out the other side of it with a valuable experience and are better equipped to face the next one. Being in a House equips you tremendously to handle almost any situation, with the support of a housemaster and a close-knit group of friends.

Is there one particular highlight?
I can narrow it down to two. Flying to Perth alone in the Novi for an exchange was excellent and established a love for travel, alongside a boost in my independence and confidence to handle unfamiliar circumstances.

A more recent example was winning the national Schools Aerospace Challenge. After putting in months of hard work on a written submission with my team, and succeeding in a week of challenges set by the organisers of the competition, lifting the trophy felt very satisfying. 
 
What has Tonbridge taught you?
When you get stuck, or hit a brick wall whilst doing something, instead of immediately asking for help, stick with it and continue thinking. It’s most likely in your capability to accomplish it.

 

AJ Li
Economist, heading for Chicago, interested in human behaviour  

A-levels
Maths, Further Maths, History, Economics 

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
While I really like all of the subjects I'm doing right now, I particularly enjoy Economics and History as I am very interested in the interaction of humans and the impact this has on all facets of society.

Destination and degree
I am attending the University of Chicago to study Liberal Arts. Chicago was my choice due its robust social sciences programme and well-known core curriculum. In time, I hope to major in Economics and do some work on Political Science. 

Furthermore, the city of Chicago will provide me plenty of opportunities to apply my skills and knowledge in a meaningful manner that will hopefully allow me to step into the finance or legal world.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? 
My time here has been nothing short of amazing. I think the best thing about Tonbridge was the strong support network, which allowed me to focus on achieving as much as I could. I think Tonbridge taught me to be independent in both life and mind, and I hope to be able to carry this spirit throughout my life.

What advice would you give to a boy starting in the Novi this year?
My advice is to learn how to efficiently manage time. This will come in handy in the future as more responsibilities and commitments arise.

 

George Adams
Head of School, writer, football captain

A-levels 
English, History, French, Art

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
I have really enjoyed studing English, as the department guided me to exciting new ways of approaching and analysing texts, leading me to better appreciate the power of language and storytelling.

In addition, I enjoyed the freedom, independence and the intellectual challenge of the Art course, which complemented the cultural side of my other subjects.

Destination and degree
I have a place at Oxford to read English Language and Literature. I especially liked the flexibility, freedom and scope of the course, and I would like the chance to discuss major works of literature with leading academics in a city which has its own rich literary history.

What are your career aspirations?
I hope to tell stories in some shape or form, whether as a writer, through the visual arts or a combination of both, ideally while having opportunities to travel widely and meet people with their own stories along the way.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
Being part of something which makes a difference in one way or another.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? 
My time at Tonbridge has been an incredible experience and one which I will never forget. The best aspect was the wealth of opportunities which I was fortunate to benefit from, whether playing in the Big Band, captaining 2nd XI football or attending a creative writing workshop with the Poet Laureate.

Is there one particular highlight?
One particular highlight for me was the opportunity to be Head of School this year. It was an honour and an experience from which I have learned a huge amount, especially with regards to time management and public speaking.

What has Tonbridge taught you?
Tonbridge has taught me the value of hard work, community spirit and friendship. Above all, my time here has helped me become a better person.

What advice would you give to a boy starting in the Novi this year?
Take the time to do things properly, look out for others and don’t be too hard on yourself.

 

Alex Trigg
Music scholar, linguist, future Director of Music

A-levels
Latin and Greek, plus Music for Pre-U.

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed the most, and why?
I've really enjoyed all three of my Sixth Form subjects. It's nice to be able to study your favourite topics in greater detail and in smaller classes.

Destination and degree
I've known since the age of about 8 that I'd want to study music at university! My aim is to go to Cambridge, to read music with an organ scholarship. Cambridge is the centre of so much wonderful music making – I'd love to spend three years of my life in the middle of all that.

What are your career aspirations?
I think I'd like to follow a career in cathedral music – being Director of Music in a large cathedral one day would be amazing.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? 
My time at Tonbridge has been incredible – the wealth of opportunity is so wonderfully vast, and I've tried to make the most of it over my five years. One of the very best things is the teaching staff, who are all so expert and so keen to help you develop your interests, whether that's in the classroom or in extra-curricular activities.

What advice would you give to a boy starting in the Novi this year?
There are so many outstanding opportunities at Tonbridge – take advantage of them all. Even if it's something you're not sure you'll enjoy, go along anyway and make the most of it. You may never have the chance again after you leave!

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