rochester independent collegeCecelia Johnson, like so many 16 year olds across Kent, was anxiously awaiting her GCSE grades. Uniquely however, her 2011 results were as much a landmark in the history of her school as they were important to her. While RIC students have been winning top results since 1984, they have traditionally joined for short intensive courses. Cecelia is the first pupil to take her GCSEs after joining at the age of 11 in Year 7.

Cecelia is celebrating 12 top results, including double A* success in English and English Literature which she is continuing at A level in RIC’s sixth form, alongside Fine Art, History of Art and Sociology. Cecelia is pictured, page left, in an entirely staged parody of a generic results week picture.

one year a level
“We would like to say a huge thank you. Jack came to you less than a year ago from Gravesend Grammar with all C grades at AS. He now has A*AB in his A levels with a place confirmed at Warwick. We are absolutely delighted – as is he!” It is particularly special for us because we met at Warwick University – and got there with lower grades than Jack!”  
dr carrie weston, august 2011


Three former King’s School, Canterbury students are celebrating second chance A level retake success and places at some of the UK’s best universities.

a level resit Even top institutions like The Royal Veterinary College still consider A level retake students, as demonstrated by the offer Amelia Liddell received. As well as retaking Chemistry and Spanish at RIC Amelia took AS Sociology from scratch in a term, achieving AAA and continued to broaden her work experience. Amelia is now able to realise her ambition to be a vet.

She says “On results day last year we had a big family discussion and we looked at the options for retaking. If you are willing to work hard then the teachers will give you all the help you need. I don’t think anyone goes on a resit course to slack though!”  Writing to Head of Science Hugh Laverty after starting at the Royal Veterinary College in October 2011 Amelia says: 

“I’ve just finished my first week of vet lectures and I just wanted to thank you for getting me here; I wouldn’t have had a chance without your
help. We managed more in that one term than I had done in my whole two years of chemistry and you can definitely take the credit for that.”


A level retakes 2011Jean Michel Hurst’s sixth form education at King’s was disrupted due to illness so he took an extra year to complete his A levels at RIC. With the unusually broad combination of Fine Art and Further Maths Jean Michel now has 2As, and an A* in Further Maths and a place at London’s top rated Imperial College.



The third former King’s student to improve his university prospects by spending an extra year over his A levels was Josh Ross who now has a place studying Economics at Loughborough. While studying at Rochester Independent College continued to work on his online business- a firm he started as a summer project post GCSEs as an online re-seller of high quality watches. Lower Master and Acting Head of King’s Canterbury Mark Lascelles says:

“The results are outstanding and many congratulations. I will have no hesitation in recommending RIC.”


Retaker Asha Chohan has demonstrated that it sometimes pays to rethink and resit A levels. Asha says: “Last year I didn’t get the grades I had hoped for so I knew I needed to retake my A levels.” Asha is now celebrating grades of A*AA and a place to study Optometry at Aston University in Birmingham, the UK’s highest ranked programme in the subject. Asha moved to RIC from a state school in Nottingham.


Will Mounty from Gravesend Grammar followed in his brother’s footsteps and came to Rochester Independent College from to retake his A levels. His grades rocketed from BCD to AAA in one year, including taking English Literature in a year from scratch. Despite being a retake student he got offers from all the universities he applied to and is taking up a place at his first choice Lancaster to study Geography in September. His brother Tom is at Royal Holloway studying History.

uk boarding schoolAt this time of year when attention is generally monopolised by headline grabbing high achievers RIC is particularly proud of A level student Omar Iqbal. Omar joined RIC from Temple School in Strood with no GCSE passes. After a one year GCSE retake course and two years of sixth form he now has three A level passes and has secured a place at Canterbury Christchurch University.

Many local selective schools will only allow students to start A levels with As or Bs at GCSE. The success of students like Omar demonstrates that one bad year doesn’t have to mean the end to higher education dreams. 

accelerated academics- one year a level

Studying alongside Omar was the top A level performer in Kent, Nontawit Cheewaruangroj. He scored an impressive four A* grades- all achieved in a year from scratch-including full marks in Maths and Further Maths. He is on one of three RIC students making their way to Cambridge University this year.


Another fast track success story is Alex Wellbelove who left the Judd School after year 9 when he was home educated until returning to full time education for accelerated one year courses at RIC. Alex leaves the college with AAA for his first choice course, Psychology at the University of Sussex. Alex’s one year A level subjects were English Literature, Maths and Physics.


Joing Alex at The University of Sussex for a Film degree is former Dartford Grammar student Rebecca Lunato-Doyen. Rebecca had previously gone down a BTEC route but found this was not the best qualification for entry to competitive courses. Rebecca switched to RIC and took three A level courses from scratch in a year. Her grades were Sociology A*, English Literature A and Film Studies A.

The Cambridge Pre U has been adopted by some schools as an alternative to A levels but it was a disappointing P1 in her Literature paper at Epsom College that cost Vicky Piper her university place last summer. Determined to still aim high, Vicky took two one year A levels at RIC and gained matching A* grades in English Literature and Sociology.  Vicky now has a place reading Philosophy at Nottingham University. Students also enrol at RIC for one year A level courses after disappointing results on the IB Diploma programme.

year 13 transfers triumph

Students who moved to RIC after disappointing year 12 and bad AS results are also celebrating.

Tom Parker from Derbyshire bounced back from AS disappointment after a year boarding in our halls of residence. Last year at the end of year 12 his grades were CCE. After a year at RIC he is celebrating grades of A*A*AB in four A levels- English Literature, Sociology, History and History of Art. He leaves RIC for a BA Honours course in Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. Tom says: ” Before I came to Rochester I struggled with my grades and my prospects for university were much akin to Ikea tables. I couldn’t stand them. I enjoyed myself, learned a lot about myself and my subjects of choice and came out all the better for it.”

Alex Alford who left Bennett Memorial School, disappointed with his AS results of BDD in year 12. He transferred to Rochester Independent College for year 13 and at RIC he achieved AAB and secured his first choice at the University of Bath to read Chemical Engineering.

“Environment change has been the key. At RIC I am here to work hard and get the grades I need for Engineering. There is a real enjoyment of learning, the teachers are passionate about their subjects and we don’t just work from text books. It is great having the college minibus service from Sevenoaks.” 

Tim Turvey
– who lives on the same Sevenoaks street as Alex-transferred to RIC from Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar, disappointed with his AS grades of CDD. Tim benefited from the college’s expertise in Maths and Science, finally achieving AAB, securing his place at Nottingham to read Mechanical Engineering. His brother, Rob Turvey joined RIC’s Middle School in year 10 and takes his GCSEs next year. Seb Lundberg joined RIC after his year 12 at Colfe’s and went on to gain AAA in History, Politics and English Literature. Seb is also set for Nottingham and a Theology degree where he is joined by Sophie Dunk, resident RIC lab rat and formerly of Gravesend Grammar School for Girls who will be reading Zoology there.

RIC’s international students are also celebrating GCSE success, including those on 1 year courses. Vicky Zhang came to Medway last year from China without speaking much English at all. She now has a stunning 9 GCSE grades A-C, all achieved at the same time as learning the language. Vicky’s GCSE choices even include English Literature and Film Studies, both subjects that require a great deal of writing! Other successful one year GCSE course students include Josh Giles from The Hundred of Hoo School, Josh Devlin from Rochester Maths School, Zofia Brown from Bishop Challoner, Bromley and Max Anstruther from Frensham Heights, Hampshire.

tom parsons, class of 2011: “Thank you so much for all you’ve done for Tom, giving him the opportunity to realise his potential. He is now looking forward to studying for an MEng in Computer Science at Imperial College- two years ago I’d never have thought this was possible. The ethos at RIC was ideal for Tom and allowed him to be himself- he has so grown in confidence it’s a joy to see. All the teachers have been brilliant, and the students have been fantastic too. His personal tutor, Todd, pitched it absolutely right so he settled in well. He also gave me lots of support! Thank you to all at RIC for a school that doesn’t conform to the traditional structure but embraces young people whoever they are and makes them feel happier in themselves.”   petra parsons


“Just a short note to the staff who helped Ciaran have such a successful year at RIC. Ciaran is delighted he got the grades he needed and got is first choice University place. I know he worked hard during the year and he enjoyed his time at Rochester. His success is in no small part down to the teaching and support you were able to provide. Many thanks – and good luck!”
niall and andrea hickey


“Just a little note of thanks!  We are very grateful to the support given by yourself and your staff in ensuring that Seb achieved three A grades this summer and gained a place to study theology at the University of Nottingham. After being unable to carry on at school into his A2 year through illness, Rochester provided the perfect environment for Seb to carry on with his studies and realise his goal to gain a place at a top university. Thank you for the help and guidance given during the UCAS application process, to Jim Mumford in sorting out all the issues concerning examination boards and to all the tutors that taught Seb in History, English Literature and Politics. Everyone was very approachable, professional and helpful to Seb at all times. Seb is very much looking forward to going up to Nottingham this weekend and starting his course.” kind regards. dominic and helen lundberg


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