CELEBRATIONS may have been muted on A-level results day, but Bolton students still had plenty to smile about.

In Bolton, the overall pass rate for the percentage of students achieving A* to E — 98.5 per cent — was above the national average and beat last year’s score.

And all grades increased compared to 2019.

This year for the first time students were awarded grades without sitting exams.

Instead schools and colleges were told to submit the grades they thought each student would have received if they had sat the papers, alongside a rank order of students, after exams were cancelled amid covid-19.

Exam boards moderated these centre-assessment grades to ensure this year’s results were not significantly higher than previous years, and the value of students’ grades were not undermined.

In England the overall pass rate for the numbers of students achieving grades A* to E was 98.3 per cent — a record high up from 97.6 per cent last year.

In the North West the pass rate was up 0.4 per cent to 98.4 per cent.

A number of schools and The Sixth Form College Bolton are appealing some of the grades students achieved after feeling they were unfairly downgraded under the process applied to award young people their results.

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Anne Galloway, said: “All our young people, and their families, should be very proud of the way they have adapted to a great deal of disruption and uncertainty in recent months.

“Congratulations to everyone who has received the grades they wanted today. Grades have improved compared to last year and the percentage of students earning A*-E is higher than the national average.

“For those who may not have received the results they hoped for, there is a great deal of support available to help you decide on your next steps.

“Bolton Council’s Connexions service has been on hand in school sixth forms today and our careers advisors can also be contacted by phone Monday to Friday.

“Teachers, governors and staff have excelled themselves with their efforts both during the year and in preparing for today so that students can get the help they need.”

The Sixth Form Bolton celebrated another outstanding year— with a 99 per cent pass rate — and students achieving the results they needed to go on to fulfil their ambitions.

Principal Stuart Merrills said: “However, despite our fantastic outcomes there remain some students who have been disadvantaged by the process applied in awarding grades.

“The Sixth Form has a very robust system of mock examinations and quality assurance procedures and so many students will be able to use the appeal system to apply for their mock examination grade to be awarded and improve their grades still further, but this in itself does not address all the inequalities in the system.

“The Sixth Form will also be challenging other grades awarded where there exist inexplicable variations between teacher Centre Assessment Grades and those then awarded.

“The only way the government can rescue this situation, and ensure that thousands of students are not disadvantaged, is to base results entirely on centre assessed grades – the predictions made by teachers. This is the only alternative to what has proved to be a failed experiment by the government to develop a fair process of standardisation.”

Canon Slade School is also appealing some grades.

Headteacher Karen Sudworth said for a minority of students the Ofqual’s algorithms had not worked and that she expected a positive outcome.

But the school ensured young people were able to celebrate the day in line with covid-19 measures.

Benjamin Eves, assistant headteacher at Canon Slade School, said: “We spent the morning celebrating the hard work of our students in both achieving their grade and securing their desired destinations with a wide of university degrees, apprenticeships and employers include several heading to the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of Manchester and Durham University to name a few.

“Our students achieved excellent outcomes, over half of the calculated A level grades were A* to B and more than a fifth at A* and A. “Our BTEC students did superbly with 75 per cent of the awarded grades at distinction or above. “They should all be rightly proud of their accomplishments.

“A huge well done to all our students!”

Director of People, Bernie Brown, said: “Congratulations to all our A-Level students who have put in so much work over every Key Stage and have coped so admirably with what has been an extremely difficult time.

"“We know these are not ideal circumstances and we want to make it clear that help is available for those who have not received the grades they wanted.”

Connexions Bolton is part of Bolton Council and can be contacted on 0800 052 5559, 9.30-3.30 Monday to Friday. More information is available on Facebook and Twitter.