STUDENTS across Witham have proved to be shining stars despite a national dip in the proportion of academic youngsters achieving top grades at A-level.

Around 300,000 teenagers across the UK received their results and students at Witham Sixth Forms received bumper grades.

The number of students at the college who gained a place at university increased by 23 per cent on last year, to six in every ten.

Grades rose too, with a total of 64 per cent of students securing A* to C grades or a Distinction* to Merit in their chosen Post-16 courses, compared to 55 per cent last year.

Leaders at the sixth form said they were particularly proud of the improvement in A-level geography and BTEC health and social care and the continued success in business and finance.

High-flyer Charlie Virgin achieved two Distinctions and a Merit in his media, IT and business BTECs.

He said: “I’m just going to see where it takes me. It feels so good.

“I was expecting to pass everything, but I didn’t know I was going to do that well.

“My favourite course was media because it’s a lot of creative stuff, whereas the business course was a lot of writing.”

Mum Debbie, who came along to the results morning, added: “I can’t believe it. It’s a huge relief.”

Also dropping by was Sophia Cook, from Witham, who sailed through her A-level exams with an A* in maths, A in further maths, A in chemistry and B in physics.

She said she is now off to study maths at the University of Warwick.

“My results are better than I had expected, they are better than I achieved in my mocks,” she said.

“The sixth form put on lots of intervention sessions which enabled me to achieve these results.

“Maths and science have always been my passion. I picked Warwick University as it is one of the top universities and I got a good impression when I went along for the open day.”

For Harriet Hibberd, 18, of Silver End, results day put her on her path to a career in art.

She secured an A in photography, Distinction* in BTEC business and a Merit in BTEC media. She is now off to Manchester School of Art to study art history.

She said: “I had already got the highest score possible in business two months before the exams, so I felt really confident for my results.

“I’m a very artistic person and for a long time I have wanted to go into the art industry.

“My family are very proud of me. I am the first person in my family stepping outside of the ‘norm’. My older siblings went into the same jobs my parents do.”

In BTEC sport, 89 per cent of students at Witham Sixth Forms secured the best grades of Distinction or Distinction*.

Tom Zaidi, 18, from Rivenhall, got the highest possible grades in his triple-sport BTEC, with three Distinction* grades.

He said: “I want to get an apprenticeship. If I can work in sport, that would be a plus. I want a job where I have responsibility.

“I started off on double sport and business and I wasn’t getting on with business, so I dropped it. This was a lot of work, a lot of our own study.

“It helped with organisation as well. It was fun, I’m really happy.”

Witham Sixth Forms was created in a merger of the colleges at New Rickstones Academy and Maltings Academy, and is now its own independent college.

Debbie Kershaw, director of Witham Sixth Forms, said: “Congratulations on the positive results achieved, which reflect the hard work and dedication of both students and staff.We pride ourselves on offering the correct courses for the young people to ensure they are well equipped to go on to lead remarkable lives.”

Nationally the proportion of students getting top grades has fallen to its lowest level for more than a decade.