A record year for some schools as youngsters celebrate amid GCSE turbulence

GCSE results - King Edwards VI School  Pictured: Leia Massey (8 A*, A, B) and Tony Diver (8 A* and 3 A)
GCSE results - King Edwards VI School Pictured: Leia Massey (8 A*, A, B) and Tony Diver (8 A* and 3 A)
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Students across West Suffolk are celebrating GCSE success having defied national reports of grade turbulence.

St Benedict’s Catholic School was celebrating a school record with the average score per pupil at 490 - 12 points higher than its previous record two years ago.

GCSE results - St Benedicts  Pictured: Josh Bryan (11 A* and 2 A)

GCSE results - St Benedicts Pictured: Josh Bryan (11 A* and 2 A)

Twelve students each achieved 13 GCSE passes with at least 11 of those results at grade A* or A. Josh Bryan was top performer with 11 A* grades and two A passes.

The other 11 are: Toby Alfred-Jones, Phoebe Allsop, Ellie Coleman, Darcie Cowap, Hannah Dance, Josh Grover, Toby Horkan, Elizabeth Jessop, Evie Marlow, Gabriela Monteiro, and Molly O’Donnell.

Headteacher Hugh O’Neill said: “Once again, there have been many outstanding individual performances.

“However, the headline figure of students passing with five A*-C grades including English and Maths is no higher than last year’s, despite huge efforts to improve, particularly in English.

GCSE results - St Benedicts

GCSE results - St Benedicts

“This is the examination world we now live in, where it is increasingly hard to achieve a grade C pass in key subjects, especially English, maths and science.

“The key thing is that our students have done extraordinarily well in a tough exam season, and should feel hugely proud of their achievements.

At County Upper School, in Bury St Edmunds, 83 per cent achieved five or more A*-Cs with 77 per cent including English and maths while the overall pass rate was 100 per cent.

A quarter of the year group gained at least five A*/A grades and the top performer was Georgia White, who managed A*s in all her 12 subjects.

GCSE results - County Upper  Pictured: Doug Sands (10 A* and 2 A)

GCSE results - County Upper Pictured: Doug Sands (10 A* and 2 A)

Head Vicky Neale said: “We firmly believe that a strong all-round education produces excellent results and this year eleven has certainly proved us right.

“Our top performers are well known for their music, sport and a host of other extra-curricular activities and they reflect their year group as a whole.”

King Edward VI School in Bury was hit by the English GCSE grading debacle last year.

Today headteacher Geoff Barton was joyful as 60 per cent of pupils scored five A*-C grades compared to 52 per cent last year.

Thurston Community College student Hannah Palmer, who has achieved six A*s, three As and a B at GCSE

Thurston Community College student Hannah Palmer, who has achieved six A*s, three As and a B at GCSE

Overall the pass rate was 99.8 per cent.

“After last year’s grim experience with the English fiasco, it’s good to see that we are back on track with a strong performance at GCSE,” Mr Barton said.

He said pupils on the borderline of a C grade in English appeared to have been marked down to a D, while there had also been a clampdown in science grades.

Mr Barton who is on The Council for the Association of School and College Leaders said nationally he was hearing of students whose grades had been marked up, and others marked down.

“You expect a national lottery on a Saturday but not on results day,” Mr Barton said.

There were happy tales at the school though – Aneesh Mathew, 16 from Bury achieved eight A*s and three A grades in line with what he was predicted to get.

“I’m very pleased. It has been nerve wracking – as soon as I opened the results it was such a massive relief,” he said.

He is staying on in the sixth form to study A-level biology, chemistry, physics and maths with the aim of going on afterwards to study medicine at university.

Matthew Clements, 16, meanwhile had been expecting Us on his papers.

“I really struggled but rallied at the end and managed to get four Ds, three Es and an F.

“I’m really pleased because I needed four Ds to get into Easton College to study agriculture. I’m absolutely chuffed,” he said.

Thurston Community College was also enjoying a record year.

Its score for five A* to C grades including English and maths was 64 per cent - its best ever, while excluding English and maths, it was 73 per cent, again a record breaker.

Overall the pass rate was 99.2 per cent.

Principal Helen Wilson said: “I am absolutely delighted. All credit to the hard work of our tremendously dedicated students and the support of their teachers and parents.

“I’m thrilled to bits, the proudest principal.”

Hannah Palmer, 16, from Sapiston, burst into tears when she opened her results. She is celebrating having achieved six A*s, three As and one B.

She said: “I was expecting to get Cs and Bs so I’m really happy. I worked really hard. I had no social life. I stayed in every single day and it’s all I thought about.”

She added: I’m really happy and really proud. It’s great that all the hard work’s paid off.”

Mildenhall College Academy saw the percentage of students gaining five A*-C grades rise by 11.5 per cent to 45 per cent.

The school is celebrating a 100 per cent pass rate and 85 per cent of students gained five A*-C grades.

Principal Susan Byle said: “I am delighted to see an excellent improvement from last year of 11 per cent at the headline figure of 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths.

“However, a statistic like this on its own fails to show the progress that has been made by our students.

“This year the percentage of students making expected or better levels of progress between key stage 2 and key stage 4 has risen by 25 per cent in Englsih and 17 per cent in Maths.

“This represents a tremendous achievement by the students and they must be congratulated.”

But she also attacked changes to boundary changes.

“Without a doubt our Science results have been adversely affected this year and we can also see that the English grade boundaries have risen once again, making it harder for children to achieve the same grades as in previous years.

“This kind of turbulence does not help schools prepare students and parents adequately for what to expect and does not allow schools to compare results year on year very accurately.

“If the boundaries are going to change significantly every year as they have for the past two, it is unfair for schools to be judged for an apparent lack of progress, when in fact they have made progress but the goalposts have been moved,” she said.

At Stowmarket High School, 66 per cent of students achieved five or more A*-Cs with 54 per cent gaining five higher grade passes including maths and English - an increase of five and 18 per cent respectively on last year.

They have acheived the second highest set of scores in the school’s history.

Head Keith Penn said: “No fewer than 24 students achieved six or more A* and A grades - these are quite outstanding results and represent a great deal of hard work on their part.

“Our congratulations and very best wishes for the future go to all our students who have given themselves the very best springboard possible from which to launch the next stage of their education or career.”

Stowupland High School saw just under 70 per cent of students gain five or more A*-Cs with 60 per cent attaining five or more including English and maths, which is an increase of more than 10 per cent.

Head Karen Grimes said: “We have also attained excellent results in vocational courses and Young Apprenticeships demonstrating our strong commitment to inclusive education.

“Staff and students have worked extremely hard throughout the year and the support of parents has been essential. Together, we have created stability at a time of great turbulence.”

Thetford Academy achieved its best ever results with 40 per cent of students gaining 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths and 68 per cent of students gaining 5 A*-C grades excluding English and Maths.

Principal Cathy Spillane said: “Our five A*-C figure with English and Maths has risen to the Academy’s best ever performance of 40% and we have made significant gains in the 5 A*- C category achieving a best ever result for Thetford; up from 55% last year to 68% this year.”

The school declined to give their overall pass rate.

At Culford School, 99 per cent of pupils achieved at least five GCSEs at A*-C with 97 per cent including English and maths.

Meanwhile, students at Thetford Grammar School attained 96 per cent A*-C.