Watch a young carer react to opening his GCSE results
A young carer from Somerset has been blown away by his GCSE grades after they exceeded his expectations following a difficult year.
16-year-old Ethan from Keynsham said the last year had "not been great", after losing his uncle to coronavirus and learning online - all while he cared for a disabled family member.
"My grandad discovered he had a tumour and my uncle passed away sadly due to Covid," Ethan said.
"And I'm a young carer, so juggling all of that and school was a difficult thing. So I am glad I have got the results that I have, quite honestly."
Ethan opened his results at Broadlands Academy in Keynsham.
His results include a grade nine in English language - equivalent to above an A* in the old system - as well as a grade eight (A*) in English literature, and four grade sevens (A).
Speaking about his results, he said: "I have definitely done better than I expecting to do, in a lot of subjects to be honest.
"[I'm in] disbelief really. I mean, happiness as well, but disbelief really. I wasn't honestly expecting myself to do this well."
But for Ethan and his family, the grades are far more than just the reward of years of school.
Family member Tracy Thompson said "Oh my god! They're really good - well done".
"It's been so, so much the last year," she said.
"We lost my brother to Covid and his grandad - my dad - had a tumour and we've had to keep him going. And obviously he's a young carer as well, I've got a disabled son, so he's been amazing."
"It's more than just results!"
Tracy added: "It's been extra hard for Ethan because obviously he's still had the carer's duties and he's helping me.
"And I'm a teacher, so I've been trying to juggle teaching at home, teaching at school, so he's had to fit it in with the online teaching and help with my son as well."
Ethan will now go on to do a two-year diploma in game design at a college near Temple Meads called boomsatsuma.
Speaking about the course, he said he was thrilled to be studying "game design and VR [virtual reality] stuff" because it's what he's wanted to do "since year five".
Ethan is one of thousands of 16-year-olds across the west country receiving their GCSE results today.
The results have been determined by pupils' teachers this year, as exams were cancelled for the second year running due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The students are only assessed on what they have been taught during the pandemic.
Overall, 28.9% of UK GCSE entries were awarded one of the three top grades this year, up by 2.7 percentage points on 2020 when 26.2% achieved the top grades, figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland show.
By contrast, in 2019, when exams were last sat, only a fifth of entries scored at least a 7 – the equivalent of an A grade.
According to the exam regulator Ofqual, the number of 16-year-old students in England who entered seven or more GCSEs and received a 9 – the highest grade under the numerical grading system – in all subjects has risen.
Some 3,606 students in England received straight 9s this summer, compared with 2,645 in 2020 and 837 in 2019.
The regulator is adamant that exams will return next year.