GCSEs 2021: Live updates as Suffolk students receive their results
Thousands of youngsters across Suffolk will be receiving their GCSE results today, marking the second year in a row that students will be given grades determined by teachers rather than exams because of the pandemic.
It's an important day for the Year 11 pupils, whose results may help decide what their next steps are - whether that be full-time education, an apprenticeship or traineeship, or a combination of work or volunteering alongside part-time education or training.
We'll bring you all the latest updates we have on GCSE results from the county as we get them throughout the day.
As GCSE students across the Haverhill area celebrated their results, one headteacher summed up their efforts through the pandemic - 'they have been an example to us all'.
Andy Hunter, who leads the town's Samuel Ward Academy, paid tribute to the hard work of their 227 students who collected their results today.
He said: "This group of young people has genuinely been an example to us all this year.
"They have approached their studies with incredible maturity and taken a very challenging 18 months completely in their stride.
"I don't recall in all my years in education working with a Year 11 as focussed and determined as this one.
One Ipswich school said this year's set of GCSE results was its best ever.
Staff and students at Brazier's Wood Road's Ipswich Academy are celebrating their best ever exam performance with the majority of pupils achieving between a grade nine and four in English and Maths.
Some 65.4 per cent met the benchmark, which is is a record for the school, and is up 2.4 per cent since last year.
At County Upper School, in Bury St Edmunds, a total of 246 students collected their results at the school.
Headteacher Vicky Neale, who was overseeing her last GCSE results before retirement, said: “We are very proud of the way our Year 11 students rose to the challenges, accepted the changes to the way they were to be assessed and really worked hard to ensure they did themselves full justice.
“Staff, who always do an excellent job, have certainly gone the extra mile during the pandemic. I also thank our parents and carers for their support and congratulate the students - they certainly deserve to celebrate their achievements today.”
Vicky said the school was delighted with this set of GCSE results and, right across the ability range, students should be very pleased with the grades they have achieved.
“On a personal note, it has truly been a privilege and an honour to serve County Upper School and the local community for the last 29 years and I wish the school every success in the future," she added.
The headteacher of Stowupland High School, near Stowmarket, has heaped praise on his Year 11 students after over 65 per cent gained key grades in their English and Maths GCSEs.
Peter Whear, headteacher, said: “Students have performed exceptionally well this year under uniquely challenging circumstances. We are proud of the way they remained positive and determined throughout."
"We wish our students every success for the future and look forward to watching them thrive as they make their next big steps in life," he added.
Newmarket Academy head Nick Froy was quick to congratulate not only the pupils after a testing year, but the teachers and parents who had supported them through the educational obstacles posed by the pandemic.
“Teachers and parents have given them fantastic support, and it’s been a massive team effort,” said Mr Froy.
“The transition to online learning has been remarkable.”
Schools across the Sudbury area expressed their pride in the resilience of pupils picking up their grades.
At Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard, the highest achievers were Barnabas Sandor and Rosy Morelli, who both celebrated a clean sweep of 10 top grade 9s - the equivalent of an A* under the old grading system.
Helen Yapp, headteacher at TGS said: “They have worked hard under the most challenging of circumstances during the last 18 months and we are very proud of how they have responded."
Ormiston Sudbury Academy praised the hard work of both students and staff, stating this had been rewarded with a successful set of GCSEs.
Caroline Wilson, OSA principal, said: “Everyone at the academy is incredibly proud of what our students have achieved since they joined Ormiston Sudbury Academy.
"It has been fabulous for us all to celebrate their determination, resilience and excellent results."
Students have received high praise from their principal as they collected their GCSE results from Mildenhall College Academy.
Of the 208 students that sat their exams 69 per cent have achieved grade 4 or higher in English and Maths.
Nicola Hood, principal at Mildenhall College Academy, said: "I am delighted with the grades our students have received this year.
"Their results reflect the resilience and determination they have shown over the duration of their studies which have been significantly different due to the pandemic."
There are big celebrations at Ormiston Denes Academy in Lowestoft this morning after students received a great set of GCSE results despite ongoing challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Jim Nixon, principal at Ormiston Denes, said: "We couldn't be prouder of our students and the results they have achieved, which are hugely deserved.
"It has been an honour to work with them during my two years at the academy.
"They have worked extremely hard to overcome all the academic pressures and have held their nerve right up to the end."
Students who collected their GCSE results at Felixstowe School today have also been praised by their headteacher for their 'remarkable determination and resilience'.
Some of the school's notable results included that of Evie Wheddon, the deputy head girl, who achieved nine Grade 9s, a distinction-star in business studies and an A grade in AS Level Maths as well as an A grade in Further Maths.
Emma Wilson-Downes, the school's headteacher, praised her students and said: "The past two years have been incredibly difficult for young people, and our students have been incredible in rising to the challenges they have been presented with.
And there were smiles at schools around Bury St Edmunds this morning as students tore into their GCSE results envelopes.
Ben Woods, 16, of Bury St Edmunds, said he felt GCSE students this year should be even prouder of their achievements following the pandemic-hit last two years.
Ben, who achieved six Grade 9s, four Grade 8s and one Grade 7, said: “I am very happy – they are better than I had hoped for."
Read more from students at schools throughout Bury St Edmunds here
Here's your questions answered about this year's GCSE results:
– How have the grades been decided this year?
Teachers in England have been required to consider a range of evidence, including mock exams, coursework, and in-class assessments using questions by exam boards, to make decisions on pupils’ grades.
Headteachers had to submit a personal declaration that they believed grades to be accurate.
Schools and colleges were asked to provide samples of student work to exam boards, as well as evidence used to determine the grades for the students selected, as part of quality assurance (QA) checks.
Random and targeted sample checks of evidence were also carried out after grades were submitted.
In some cases, where the evidence did not support the grades submitted, schools and colleges have been asked to review their grades.
Last summer, the fiasco around grading led to thousands of A-level students having their results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm, before Ofqual announced a U-turn.
But this year, no algorithm will be used to moderate teachers’ grades.
– What should students do if they are unhappy with their final grades?
Pupils who want to appeal against their grade must first request that their school or college reviews whether an administrative or procedural error was made.
Each school or college will set their own deadlines by which students must ask them to review a grade.
If the school or college rules no error was made, then students can escalate the appeal to the exam boards, which their school or college is expected to submit on their behalf.
The deadline to send an appeal to the exam board is September 17.
There is an earlier deadline of August 23 for priority appeals.
– Can students re-sit an exam if they do not like their results?
Students in England who are unhappy with their GCSE grades will have the opportunity to take exams in the autumn.
GCSE exams will take place in November and December.
The higher grade will count for applicants who wish to take an autumn exam.
– What is the plan for the summer exams in 2022?
In England, ministers hope that exams will go ahead in summer 2022 after two years of cancelled exams.
But pupils taking GCSE and A-level exams next year could be given advance notice on the focus of exam papers to ensure they are not disadvantaged as a result of lost learning during the pandemic.
The proposals include giving schools and colleges some choice over the topics that students are assessed on, as well as providing exam aids, but final details will not be confirmed until the autumn term.