Teenager Alice Bentley combined her GCSE studies with a trip to a school in Uganda – and took her ukulele with her.
The 16-year-old spent the February half-term break at Ikoba, a Church of Uganda school near Masindi.
Alice was able to make the trip because Ikoba has a partnership with St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol where she is a pupil.
The teenager, from Bishopston in Bristol, got nine grade 9s in her exams and is joining the school’s sixth form to study maths, geography and chemistry at A-level, but has not decided yet what she wants to study at university.
“Every year students make the trip to our partner school in Uganda,” Alice said.
“We help out and see what we can take back to our school.
“We went at February half-term and it was a really good experience. I took my ukulele with me and played that to the students and they sang along.
“It was really inspiring to see how much they really want to learn. Their classes are much bigger than ours – 40 or 50 students in each class.
“I also met some of the people who had left the school but came back for their results, and you could see how hard they worked and how inspiring they were to me to work hard as well, and make the most of the opportunities I have.”
Headteacher Elisabeth Gilpin said: “Alice enjoyed the friendship of the students there and was inspired by their educational focus in a situation very different to our own.
“The Ugandan students loved Alice and taught her lots of songs and dances and she shared some of her favourites with them and played on her ukulele for them.”
Also celebrating results was Ellen Harris, from Henleaze in Bristol, who achieved seven grade 9s, two 8s and one 7.
She is planning to study for A-levels in biology, chemistry, psychology and English literature at the school’s sixth form.
“Hopefully a big group of our friends are going out to celebrate tonight,” Ellen, 16, said.
Grace Evans, 16, thought she had done badly – until she got a call from the school to come in extra early at 8am.
“I was well supported in my studies by the teachers and I worked really hard to get through it.”
Joe Speers, from Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol, did not have much time to think about the seven grade 9s, one 7 and two A*s he achieved as he only returned from holiday on Wednesday.
“I am quite interested in computer science and coding and I would like to study that at university,” the 16-year-old said.
Mrs Gilpin said: “I am delighted with our students’ achievements. All of our students got at least one GCSE qualification and 82% of grades were grade C or 4 and above.
“The results at the top end have been amongst our very best ever with 34% of grades being grades 7, 8 or 9 and A or A*.
“An amazing 42% of students got three or more grades at A or 7 and above. Despite the new grade 9 being like a super A* with a lot more challenge we had 17 students get six or more grade 9s.
“This is an impressive achievement. As a church school we are proud to value religious education and creative subjects even though this is not the direction the Government has set.
“An amazing 30 students got a grade 9 equivalent to the very top A* in religious education GCSE.”