Swindon AdvertiserStudents set sights high for astronomy GCSE (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Students set sights high for astronomy GCSE

Swindon Advertiser: Astronomy students Olivia Gibbs and Tom Jackson Astronomy students Olivia Gibbs and Tom Jackson

THE sky’s the limit for star students who have gained top grades in astronomy.

Thirty-two year nine pupils from Commonweal School sat their astronomy GCSE exam this summer and were over the moon with the results.

This is the first year that Commonweal has run the GCSE class and it was offered to the top Year 9 class, with everyone gaining an A* to C grade.

The course covered the solar system and also involved plenty of maths.

Coursework involved the students using robotic telescopes and the internet.

They operated the telescopes online from Spain and Australia and took photographs of galaxies and stars The course also involved sitting a two hour exam.

Science teacher Mike Walker said: “There were 32 in the class, who took it two years early and everyone got between an A* and a C.

“There are two interesting things about it. The fact that they are Year 9 and they did the exam two years early, and the fact that very few schools at all run GCSE astronomy.

“It helps them with their numeracy skills because it is quite a mathematical course. It helps with their physics as well.

“We are going to run it each year now. In effect the school is offering a quadruple award in science, which is fairly unique. There are few schools which offer that.”

One student achieved an A*, 10 got grade As, 15 got Bs and six got Cs.

Fourteen-year-old Olivia Gibbs gained the highest mark and said that she was ecstatic with her result.

She said: “At the start we were very nervous about sitting a GCSE and I didn’t think I would get a very good grade.

“The exam was really hard, there was a lot of maths involved and it was strange sitting a GCSE so early.

“It was really strange going to get the results because everyone was a lot older and were looking at us thinking ‘why are they here?’.

“I was really pleased with my result – I never thought I would get a mark like that.”

The pupils took the extra class as part of their science lessons but also put a lot of work in outside of the classroom and made a visit to the space museum in Leicester as part of the course.

Tom Jackson, 14, who gained a B grade, said: “I took it because it looked quite interesting and was a good opportunity.

“I think it has set us up well now for our exams next year.”

Holly Grey, 14, also gained a B grade, and said: “It was a hard course because it was really fast but I was happy with my result because it was what I was hoping for.

“I think it has prepared us well for our GCSEs and the teachers were a big help.”

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