THERE were tears of joy, moments of shock and even a bunch of flowers as young adults gathered to collect their A level certificates.

Despite the overall pass rate falling nationally for the first time in over 30 years students at Peter Symonds were hailed triumphant as they achieved some of the best results across the county.

For the college it was one of the most impressive years yet with 99 per cent of A level students achieving a full pass rate.

Of those students, 82 per cent had grades between A* to C and 62 per cent had A* to B.

And it wasn’t just the A2 students who were shedding a happy tear or two.

The pass rate for AS level students was 91 per cent, with 68 per cent achieving grades A to C and 46 per cent getting A to B.

There were 602 A* awarded this year, an increase on last year, accounting for just shy of 12 per cent of the total grades given.

Some 17 students scored a remarkable 700 or more UCAS points – the equivalent of five or more A levels at A*.

Head teacher Stephen Carville said: “They are outstanding results and it makes us so proud when you see people crying their eyes out with joy. I was amazes that 33 per cent of the grades are either A* or A which is astounding. To achieve an A* is a tremendous amount of work and its testament to the hard work the teachers have given over the last two years of the course.

“So much has gone on in the press about standards dropping and exams getting easier but it’s so much hard work. A huge congratulations to all the students because I know they have worked so hard for a long time to achieve what they have.”

The second highest performing student at the college – with four A* and two As - was Rachael Walker, 18, who lives at Anthill Close in Denmead with her mum Elizabeth and dad Colin. She studied geography, English literature and language, sociology and an extended project for her A* as well as general studies and history.

“I’m really happy and a bit shocked I guess,” she said. “My parents are really happy. I’m going to Durham to study geography because I’m interested in human geography and current affairs and the world.”

The highest performing student, who wasn’t able to make it along on Thursday (August 14), was Lucy Holland who was awarded four A* as well as an A for her extended project, an A for general studies and A at AS in English literature.

Tom Hilbourne, 18, of Gillingham Close in Kings Worthy, achieved four A* grades, in maths, further maths, physics and chemistry.

He said: “I want to find my physics teacher – I’m going to give him a hug. I got full marks in physics. As a teacher he was really inspiring. When you’re inspired, you do well.

“I’m really happy. I was worrying last night, but I’m happy now. It was hard doing four A levels but I really enjoyed it.”

Tom has big plans for the future, but he said university is going to have to wait.

“I’m taking a gap year and going to Uganda for seven months to teach in a primary school. It should be really exciting. After that I’ll apply to Cambridge for natural sciences.”

He has already been to Uganda for a month but is already looking to 2019, when he is likely to finish university.

“At the moment I’d quite like to do research in particle physics and nuclear physics, or I might do a PhD,” he said. “We’ll have to see.”

Hannah Tickle, 18, of Church Lane in Owslebury, was so happy with her results she very nearly knocked her friends over as she ran to hug them.

She earned herself an A* in English Literature, two As in politics and her extended project and a B in history.

“I’m going to do English with American literature at Exeter,” she said. “I don’t think anyone grasps how hard it is. It’ been the hardest two years of my life – when I think of the number of panic attacks and amount of crying – anyone who even gets a C I would applaud.”