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GCSE: Tougher exam system still shows strong results

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The wait is over for students getting their GCSE results today, like these students from a previous year at Castle Manor Academy
The wait is over for students getting their GCSE results today, like these students from a previous year at Castle Manor Academy

Pupils are now looking at their next steps after strong GCSE results following a tougher exam system.

Nearly all GCSEs are now being graded under the new numerical system to better distinguish between the highest performing pupils.

Nine is the highest mark with one being the lowest, four is a standard pass and five is a strong pass.

The key performance measure is the percentage of pupils achieving grades four or above in English and maths.

At Castle Manor Academy, students were praised after producing a strong set of GCSE results.

Overall, 63 per cent of students reached the threshold grade in Maths and 62 per cent in English, with 50 per cent of students reaching the combined threshold of a level 4 in Maths and English.

Some students were shocked by what they had got (3758467)
Some students were shocked by what they had got (3758467)

Headteacher Vanessa Whitcombe said the results represented an extremely good outcome for the year group of students, placing them in the top 25 per cent of similar schools nationally from their starting points when they joined the school.

She added: “I am delighted with the results at Castle Manor Academy - they are strong in a year when there has been a huge amount of national change with these examinations.

“As well as headlines of English and Maths results, we have seen excellent results in a wide range of subjects including triple science, photography, finance, dance and PE.

“I am extremely proud of all of our students and they will have very bright futures. These results are also testament to the hard work and support from staff and parents and I want to take the opportunity to thank them.”

Students at Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill are also celebrating after an improvement in this year’s results.

A total of 64 per cent of students achieved a 4+ in English and maths – compared to 55 per cent in 2017.

These figures were mirrored in the 5+ grades – 42 per cent this year compared to 33 per cent 12 months before.

Andy Hunter, newly recruited headteacher of Samuel Ward Academy, said: “I am really pleased for the students who have worked very hard, guided by a caring and dedicated team of staff.”

Students from Samuel Ward Academy after getting their results (3758469)
Students from Samuel Ward Academy after getting their results (3758469)

Students at the school admitted there was a mixture of relief and happiness as they picked up their results.

Abigail Smith, 16, from Haverhill, said she was delighted with her results, especially in science and English.

She added: “I was completely shocked when I opened the envelope. I remember coming out of the exams thinking I didn’t do very well.

“And then I went to Corfu on holiday and I didn’t want to come back and get my results. All my friends told me to open the envelope, but I didn’t want to cry. In the end, I cried happy tears.”

Celine Roy, 16, from Haverhill, said: “I have been so stressed over the summer holidays but now I am just so relieved and so happy.

“I never expected to get any grade 9’s so to get two in geography and chemistry is fantastic.”

Linton Village College saw 87 per cent of students pass their English GCSE and 73 per cent pass maths.

Helena Marsh, Principal, said: “While there has been a reported squeeze on non-core subjects nationally, we are pleased that students at Linton Village College have been particularly successful in creative subjects. Well over a third of entries in many subjects including art, music, product design and literature achieved top grades (seven to nine) and the majority of students secured strong passes (Grade five or above) in these disciplines, as well as in languages and the sciences.

“One of our highest achieving students was George Crooks. Having recently obtained an Arkwright Scholarship, George secured a clutch of top grades, including seven Grade nines, and goes on to study at Hills Road Sixth Form College. We wish all of our students the best for their future and next steps.”

There was also continued strong GCSE results at Stour Valley Community School in Clare.

With 62 per cent of students achieving Grade 4+ in English and Mathematics.

Notable achievements included Caitlin Ryan, who has six subjects graded at grade nine, closely followed by Dan Rose with five subjects also graded at the top mark.

Chair of Governors Richard Smith said: "We are delighted at these results which show continued strong progress especially in light of the new and stretching curriculum. Such amazing results don’t happen by accident but are achieved through an enormous amount of hard work and dedication. "Huge thanks go to the teachers at Stour Valley who have relentlessly navigated their way through the new GCSE courses, and to the students themselves. We wish them all the very best for a happy and successful future."