After changes to GCSE grades and a tougher curriculum, pupils rose to the challenge and are celebrating a strong set of results.
The new GCSEs use a number based grading scale, from nine to one, to better distingush between the highest performing pupils.
Covering more challenging content, they are designed to match standards in the strongest performing education systems elsewhere in the world.
Nine is the highest grade, one is the lowest, four is a ‘standard pass’ (equal to a low grade C) and five is a ‘strong pass’.
Seven to nine are broadly equivalent to grades A and A* while three to one are equal to D to G.
This year pupils are receiving the new grades only in English and maths but by 2020 all GCSE subjects will be revised and graded from nine to one.
The key performance measure is the percentage of pupils achieving grades four or above in English and maths.
The Government says the new GCSEs are ‘more rigorous’ so that young people gain the knowledge they need to ‘succeed in the future and compete in an increasingly global workplace’.
Of the 144 pupils who sat exams at St Benedict’s Catholic School, in Bury St Edmunds, 74 per cent achieved grade four or above in both English and maths.
Headteacher Kate Pereira said: “We’re really very pleased with our results in what’s been a year of uncertainty nationally with the new one to nine system combined with the increase in difficulty of these subjects.
“The fact that our students have again achieved well is a testament to their hard work and to the dedication of their teachers and parents.”
At County Upper School, in Bury, 249 pupils sat GCSEs, with 66 per cent securing the grade four benchmark or above.
Headteacher Vicky Neale said: “These excellent results, following last week’s superb ‘A’ level performance, crown another hugely successful year for County in and out of the classroom.
“Once again, I thank the staff who do such an excellent job and congratulate all the students: they certainly deserve to celebrate their achievements.”
Out of the 306 pupils at King Edward VI School, in Bury, 68 per cent gained a grade four or above in English and maths.
Headteacher Lee Walker said: “I am hugely grateful to our staff, and full of admiration for our students, who have worked enormously hard to secure these excellent grades.
“Our students can now move on to the next stage of their education in a position of great strength. The very high quality of teaching and personal support available here, and from our parents, is a key feature of this school.”
At Iceni Academy, in Methwold, a total of 134 pupils sat their exams, with 65 per cent achieving at least a grade four in both English and maths.
Principal Gee Cook said: “Congratulations to Iceni students and their families. I am delighted that the results in many subjects and measures, including students getting English and maths GCSEs, have exceeded the record results set last year.
“Our students, staff and governors have worked tirelessly to ensure that expected national declines in results have not affected Iceni students who continue to achieve record results.”
At Ixworth Free School, 35 pupils sat GCSEs, with 71 per cent gaining four or above in English and maths.
Headteacher Niki King said: “I am very proud of the progress that students have made since the school opened in 2014.
“It is excellent to see a number of top grades of eight and nine have been achieved with the newly reformed GCSEs.
“We wish all our students success for the future as they progress on to further education.”
Of the 166 pupils who took GCSEs at Mildenhall College Academy, 55 per cent achieved grade four or above in English and maths.
Principal Susan Byles said she had never known a year group to work ‘so hard in meeting and overcoming new challenges’ and they had achieved a record 250 A* to A grades.
She said: “They were the first year group to join MCA at the start of Year 7 following the closure of the middle schools and they are the first cohort to have taken the new linear GCSEs in maths and English which are undoubtedly the hardest exams that pupils in this age group have ever had to sit.”
At Stowmarket High School, 154 pupils sat GCSEs with 60 per cent gaining the grade four benchmark.
Headteacher Dave Lee-Allen said: “I know I speak for all staff and governors when I say we are proud of what our students have achieved this year of these much tougher examinations.
“Despite the bar being higher, these results show a significant improvement. Students and staff have faced enormous challenges during a time of massive change, and they have proved that with a ‘can-do’ attitude and high aspirations, that they can write a new story of success.
“With the support of our parent body, Stowmarket students have achieved something special.”
At Stowupland High School, 64 per cent of its 166 pupils secured a grade four or above in English and maths.
Headteacher Karen Grimes said: “Amidst national speculation over new specifications, Stowupland students are to be congratulated and should be justly proud of their results.
“Our students have clearly risen to the challenge of terminal examinations and more rigorous content.
“This has been another successful year for the whole school community and we are looking forward to welcoming many students back into the Stowupland Sixth Form.”
Of the 180 pupils who sat GCSE exams at Thetford Academy, 51 per cent received a grade four or above in both English and maths.
Principal Kevin Blakey said: “These results are fantastic for the academy and the town, with a big increase on last year despite a tougher curriculum and more rigorous exams.
“I want to thank our staff for their dedication to our young people, and congratulate our fantastic students.”
At IES Breckland, in Brandon, 71 students sat GCSE exams with 52 per cent achieving grade four or higher in both English and maths.
Principal Alison Tilbrook said: “At IES Breckland we are proud of the hard work and effort of students and staff to secure the school’s best ever GCSE results.
“The percentage of pupils securing a pass at GCSE level in English and maths has risen for the third year in a row to 52 per cent in 2017. Previously this figure stood at 40 per cent in 2015 and 45 per cent in 2016. Over 30 per cent of students achieved a good pass at GCSE (Grade five or above) in English and in maths – these achievements were despite attainment at Key Stage 2 being significantly lower than the national average.”
Of the 260 pupils at Thurston Community College, 63 per cent achieved the grade four or above benchmark.
Principal Helen Wilson said: “I am proud of the students achievements today, they have worked really hard to achieve what they have.
“The staff have also worked equally as hard in supporting the students in getting their GCSE grades in this recent change of the system.”
Of the 85 pupils at Culford School, a proportion sat IGCSE English and maths.
The pass rate at the school saw 92 per cent gain A* to C, which is the equivalent of nine to four under the new grading structure.
At Stoke College, in Stoke by Clare, 19 pupils sat the exams and 79 per cent achieved a four or above in English and maths.
At Thetford Grammar School, 95 per cent of the 26 pupils who sat exams achieved grade four or above in both English and maths.
Headmaster Mark Bedford said: “Once again, as the headmaster of one of the oldest schools in the country, tracing our lineage back to the seventh century, I am immensely proud of our Year 11 pupils and exceptionally pleased for their families.
“This is truly an outstanding set of results and testament to the hard work of our pupils and the inspiration they draw from our wonderful teaching staff.”
For more pictures, see tomorrow’s Bury Free Press.