Gloucestershire students celebrate GCSE results day
PUPILS across Gloucestershire celebrated their GCSE results today.
It was a bumper crop of results in the county but nationally, the A*-C pass rate fell for the first time in the exam’s 24-year history.
Nationwide figures showed a 0.4% drop in the A*-C pass rate.
A row erupted over English exams after an unprecedented number of fails were recorded at some schools.
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Gloucester Academy headteacher John Reilly said: “I think English has definitely been marked harshly this year and we will be asking for some of our papers to be remarked.
“We have improved in every subject including maths but for some reason English has dropped dramatically from 54% last year to 41% this year.
“Our predictions for grades have been accurate in every subject except English, so I think they have raised the grade boundaries.
“I know the government wants to make GCSEs harder by getting rid of modular learning and getting pupils to sit all their exams at the end of the year.
“I think there is a danger of us losing some of the good things in the system if we continue to make these changes but the schools will to do their best to adapt and support their students through the process.
“However, I think it is just making it harder for pupils to succeed.”
Tim Withers, head of selective girls’ school, Stroud High, said English appeared to have been marked harder this year. The school plans to appeal.
“In previous years we have had 100% A and A* for English and this year it’s 77%,” he said.
“That’s lower than maths for the first time.
“Some students are getting Bs and Cs rather than As and A*s and we will be appealing.
“Overall we are doing similarly well and Maths is better than ever. It seems as if the goalposts have been moved a bit. That’s disappointing.”
But at the High School for Girls, in Denmark Road, staff and pupils were in celebratory mood.
In the face of a national decline in results, they recorded their second best haul of the past five years.
Headteacher Ewa Sawicki said: “I don’t think we do feel under any pressure to perform particularly but that’s probably because of the standard of the school.
“Everyone has worked extremely hard.
“You hear it every year, that the exams are getting easier, but it’s not true. They are just different, it’s about more than regurgitating knowledge now and I think they are as difficult as they ever were.”
Bernice Meadows turned her life around to achieve five GCSEs including one A grade.
The 16-year-old, from Coleford, said she never could have done it without the support of staff at Lakers School.
“I came here in Year 9 after screwing up totally at my last school,” she said.
“I was always in trouble and getting Es and Fs.
“Then I came here and slowly I turned things around.”
Bernice achieved four Cs and one A grade in food technology.
Overall it was an other record-breaking year for Lakers with 96.9 per cent gaining A*-G passes and 56 per cent achieving five or more A* to C grades including English and Maths.
Head girl Beth Sykes, 16, from Lydbrook excelled with seven A*s and three As.
Headteacher Alison Elliott said: “It’s a joy to see the hard work of our students, of all abilities, rewarded with so much success.”
She said the achievement of Jodiann Bailey, 17, was particularly “amazing”.
Originally from St Anne’s in Jamaica, the teen moved to Joys Green in April, mid-way through Year 10.
Miss Elliott said it was “amazing” she went on to achieve a C grade in English literature.
Jodiann said: “I’m over the moon as I thought I was going to fail.”
Newent Community School also saw results improve.
Of the 217 pupils who sat the GCSEs, 99 per cent achieved A* to G passes and 63 per cent got five or more A* to C grades.
Headteacher Jane Steele said star pupils included Tom Berkeley from Kingsholm who got 10 A*s and one A and is going on to study drama in Birmingham.
Maidenhill School in Stroud upped its rate of five A* to C students with English and maths from 72% last year to 80% this year. Five years ago, that figure stood at 35%.
“We’ve done better than ever,” said headteacher Pam Wilson. “We are a completely different school.”
Cathy Glendinning, whose daughter Amelia amassed three A*s, seven As and a B, said it was the right school for her children.
“The staff know the children very well,” said Mrs Glendinning. “The staff work really hard for the children, who work hard.”
Matt Harwood has his sights set on biomedicine at university, after nine A*s and three As means he will study A levels.
“It’s a fantastic school,” said Matt, from King’s Stanley. “The staff help and encourage you all the way, they’re really supportive.”
Lauren Chandler from Stonehouse got three A*s, two As, and six Bs.
“I was hoping for good grades and I got them,” she said. “I love the school – I would not have wanted to go anywhere else.”
Amberley twins Phoebe and Hannah Loe of Stroud High School pushed each other to two sets of fantastic results. Phoebe achieved three A*s and nine As, and Hannah two A*s, seven As, two Bs and a C at Stroud High School.
“On the same subjects we helped each other with revision,” said Hannah.
Phoebe added: “We both did it on our own but when we got stuck we would help each other – we are revising partners.”
Two schools on the north-east side of Gloucester reported some of their best-ever GCSE results.
Pupils at Sir Thomas Rich’s in Longlevens and Chosen Hill in Churchdown were smiling with relief and congratulating each other on a string of top grades.
At Sir Thomas Rich’s, the year group achieved a 100 per cent pass rate in subjects including English and Maths, while 99 per cent of pupils got grade C or above in Maths, English and three other subjects .
Among the star pupils were Alec Fuller, 16 from Kingsholm, who got just the one grade A to go with his nine A*s.
Aspiring to a career in medicine, he will study biology, chemistry, French and maths at A-Level.
He said: “I’m very pleased – and quite shocked – with my results. I was getting butterflies on the way in.
“I thought I was going to do alright but I didn’t think I was going to do this well!”
Stuart Carver aged 16 from South Cerney, achieved three grade Bs, seven As and one A* and will continue to study maths and the three sciences at A-Level next year.
He said: “It would have been nice to get more A*s but I’m pretty satisfied. I’m still not quite decided on a career yet but we’ll see what happens in the next couple of years.”
Ian Kellie, headmaster at Sir Thomas Rich’s was understandably delighted with the results. He said: “These are significantly our best results ever in terms of As and A*s, and the average points scored.
“We had an inkling they were going to do well because of their good scores in Year 10. Those results gave them a lot of confidence to succeed and they started Year 11 on a high.
“Youngsters these days are under a lot of pressure to get results and there has been a good work ethic in the year group.
“It’s the satisfaction of the job to see youngsters achieve well and lay the foundations for whatever they want to go and do in the future.”
Star pupil at Chosen Hill School was Liza Hadley, 16 from Hucclecote, who was initially disappointed to miss out on straight grade A*s.
Her one grade A came in English Language but she was still pleased with the 10 A*s she got in other subjects.
She said: “I worked really hard for these results and I was hoping to get straight A*s but I’m still happy.
“I think I’d like to do a geography degree eventually. I’d love to be a volcanologist.”
Pupils at Chosen Hill also achieved the school’s highest ever results for those passing five or more subjects with grades A* to C, including Maths and English. Meanwhile the figure for pass rates – grades A* to G – in all subjects was 95.3%.
Other high achievers at the school were Rachael Shilling, aged 16 from Hucclecote, who got an A* in religious education alongside seven grade As and one grade B, and Timothy Cater, 16 from Churchdown, who achieved four A*s, five As and two Bs.
Rachael said: “I was nervous and my hands were shaking but when I saw the results I just wanted to scream.
“I’m really interested in how the mind works and I’d like to do something in psychology, so I’m doing that with sociology, geography and English for my A-Levels.”
Timothy said: “It’s a long time since we took the exams and I was getting more and more worried as the weeks went on, paranoid that I’d answered some of the questions wrong.
“So I’m really happy with my results and I’m going to celebrate with my family this evening.”
Catherine Terry, head of Year 11 at Chosen Hill School, said: “I think they have done fantastically well and I’m so proud of them.
“They have been an amazing year group and I think they have done themselves proud.”
Archway Headteacher Colin Bedford said that he was delighted but not surprised by the results – particularly following last week’s excellent A-level results. “The students and teachers have worked incredibly hard over the last five years,” he said. “I am feeling extremely buoyant. These results bolster the fact that Archway has been building on its examination achievements, year on year. It has been lovely this morning to see so many overjoyed students.”
Of the 200 students who sat their GCSEs, 66 per cent achieved five A* to C grades, including English and maths, and 80 per cent five A* to Cs for all subjects. Meanwhile, 92 per cent of students scored five A* to G grades, including English and maths, and 97.5 per cent achieved five A* to G grades for all subjects.
Among the students celebrating were twins, Leah and Isabel Harris who, as well as being identical, achieved almost identical results. Leah gained four A* grades, nine As and two Bs, while Isabel achieved four A* and 11 A grades. “We are both looking to do the same subjects next year at A-level,” said Isabel, with Leah adding: “We’ve always done and achieved the same things, all our lives.”
Leah continued: “The school has been absolutely brilliant. The teachers give up so much of their own time to help all the students. They’re fantastic. Archway never deserved to be put into special measures, and these results prove that.”
Balcarras School, in Charlton Kings, smashed its own record with 91 per cent of pupils achieving five A*s to C, including maths and English – up from 80 per cent last year.
Headteacher Chris Healy said: “The results are absolutely wonderful. They are so much higher than any results we have had before that it has come as a fantastic surprise for everybody.
“We have really tried to boost the performance of the boys. We have worked really hard in raising the boys’ aspirations but also raising their confidence and making them believe they can achieve these sorts of results.”
James Vencl did it for the boys with seven A*s, three As and one B. The 16-year-old, from Charlton Kings, said: “I wasn’t expecting those results. My dad died of cancer this year and I thought I was really going to mess them up. I just kept working hard all the way through.”
Meanwhile, 19 star-studded pupils at The Cotswold School achieved more than 10 A* or A grades. Among those were Eleanor Mottram who gained 11A*s and two As and Flora Pringle Paterson who scooped 10A* and two As.
Exam board chiefs said drops in national results were partly down to tougher science GCSEs and more candidates sitting English in the summer rather than earlier.
Principal at The Cotswold School, Will Morgan said: “If the marking has been harder this year, it means that we are even more pleased with the results that we have achieved. English remaining above 90 per cent A* to C, mathematics rising to 85 per cent and nearly a third of our students achieving A*/A grades”.
At Chipping Campden School pupils also reached for the stars.
Matthew Dean gained six A*s and two As, an A* in his engineering diploma and an A at AS level in philosophy and ethics.
Emily Preston-Jones netted eight A*s, Patrick Eves seven A*s and Philippa Short and Laura Williams with six A*s.
Emily said: “I’m ecstatic – I’ve been continually trying to do my best and it’s now paid off.”
Pupils at Cheltenham Ladies’ College also achieved amazing grades with 100 per cent gaining at least five A* to C grades. Principal, Eve Jardine-Young, said: “These outstanding results reflect the girls’ commitment to their education, as well as the wonderful dedication of our hard-working staff.”
Many youngsters left Tewkesbury School with a broad smile on their face after a record-breaking set of grades were revealed.
Headteacher Gary Watson said: “We were very pleased that 84 per cent of pupils got five A* to C grades, excluding maths and English, as that was a record for us.”
Sam Blenkin was one of the many youngsters celebrating, their results. Despite having taken one of the lead roles in the school’s performance of Oliver!, he remained focussed enough to achieve four A* grades, three As and two Bs.
The 16-year-old, from Mitton said: “I had to learn my lines and songs at the same time as doing my studies but I managed to fit it all in.”
Top performing girl in terms of points score was Martha Avery, 16, from Longlevens, who got two As, four Bs and four Cs, the 16-year-old said: “I’m very happy and very pleased.”
Meanwhile Cleeve School saw a big improvement on last year when it came to the percentage of pupils getting five A*s to C, including maths and English, going from 60 per cent in 2011 to 69 per cent this year.
With nine A*s and two As Jess Whitney, 16, from Bishop’s Cleeve, was one of the top achievers.
She said: “I wanted something like that. I would have preferred all A*s but I’m happy with what I got. I want to be a zoologist. I’m definitely aware that GCSEs are important. They are the first proof of what you can do.”
Teenagers at Pittville School were also wearing their success with pride as they celebrated their best results ever. More than 100 pupils headed to the Albert Road site to find out how they fared in their exams.
And the teens were able to pick up specially-made hooded jumpers bearing their names as they opened their envelopes.
Headteacher Richard Gilpin said the success rate had continued to rise this year, with 49 per cent getting five GCSEs at grades A* to C compared with 41 per cent last year.
He added: “We are absolutely delighted with these results as they are the best that we have ever achieved at the school.”
Among those getting top marks was 16-year-old Emma Power, who sat 16 examinations in the summer. She said: “I worked my hardest to get the best grades I could.”
Pate’s Grammar also secured record exam results this year.
All of their students achieved 100 per cent five A* to C including English and maths.
Just down the road at All Saint’s Academy, which opened in September, there was cause for celebration for the first crop of pupils to get their results.
Principal Peter Kingham said: “We are very pleased with our first results – there were some excellent individual grades that will mean success for those students.”
Overall, 36 per cent of students achieved five or more A* to C grades including maths and English.
Liam Taylor who achieved the equivalent of 19 A* to B GCSEs after passing his creative and media diploma which equals seven results, said ‘I am very happy with my results, I am staying on at All Saints’ sixth form and looking forward to it’.”