Opening their GCSE results with a bright future on the horizon, students across West Suffolk maintained or exceeded expectations despite fears of a dip nationally due to a shake-up in the exam system.
Many schools in the area bucked the national trend which saw 68.8 per cent of entries scoring A*-C after a switch to a greater emphasis on exams rather than coursework and modular units.
County Upper School, in Bury St Edmunds, had an overall pass rate of 99.7 per cent with 86 per cent gaining five A*-Cs and 71 per cent five A*-Cs including English and maths. Top performer was Chloe Cunnningham with 12 straight A*s in all her subjects.
Head Vicky Neale said: “At the top end the results are superb once again with almost a quarter of the year having five or more A*/A grades including English and maths and a record number with eight or more A*/A grades.
“Given the new tougher exams we are delighted that our A*-C in English and Science remained in the mid-eighties and 86 per cent gained five plus A*-C grades. Unexpectedly, our maths dropped a bit, but overall these are another excellent set of results and 71% getting the benchmark measure is cause for celebration. I congratulate the students and thank the staff for all they have achieved.”
King Edward VI School in Bury had 340 students sit GCSEs and they achieved a 99 per cent overall pass rate, with 18 per cent at grades A* or A.
Of those, 58 per cent had five A* to C grades including English and maths and 42 per cent were at grade B or above.
Headteacher Geoff Barton said: “We were told that this would be a year of volatility, and we are pleased that we have maintained standards from last year.
“There are – as predicted in the national media – surprises in English and maths results. But many of our students have done brilliantly – including 48 who gained more A and A*s.
“These are seriously impressive.
“Against national trends, boys have performed particularly well.”
St Benedict’s Catholic School, in Bury, celebrated its best results in the last three years with the percentage of studenst achieving five A*-C grades including English and maths rising to 71 per cent – 18 points better than last year and in line with what the school achieved before 2012. The overall pass rate was 100 and five A*-Cs was 78 per cent.
Head Hugh O’Neill hailed their English results with a 76 per cent pass rate after moving to what had been called the ‘International GCSE’ in 2012 following the ‘fiasco’ over AQA English results that year.
Mr O’Neill said: “I ‘m very proud that we have restored the excellent exam results at GCSE that we have had for so many years. I am immensely proud of our students, and must especially mention the work of all our staff, particularly those in the English department.
Thurston Community College’s 356 students took 3,006 exams and achieved a 99.2 per cent pass rate.
Head teacher Helen Wilson said: “That’s exactly the same rate as last year even though they left us at sixes and sevens because so many goal posts have been shifted.
“I’m extremely proud of our students.”
Of the 356 students, 75 per cent passed with a C or higher, 74 per cent had five passes between A* and C and 62 per cent gained A* to C including maths and English. All those rates were about the same as last year.”
Mildenhall College Academy recorded an overall pass rate of 98 per cent with 55 per cent achieving five A* to C.
Stand-out performances came from Oskar Polanski, who got eight A*/As, and Lara Seymour, who got seven A*/As.
Principal Susan Byles expressed disappointment with the results, which she said ‘simply do not reflect the hard work undertaken by these students’.
She criticised the new examination system and the fewer opportunities provided to re-sit exams.
“The students worked conscientiously during the course, doing everything they could to prepare,” she said.
“It is all or nothing for those who find passing GCSEs at grades A*-C incredibly difficult despite making every effort and trying their hardest.”
Thetford Academy recorded its best ever set of results, with 50 per cent of students achieving five A* to C grades including English and maths.
Executive principal Adrian Ball said: “On behalf of the governing body and members of staff I wish to congratulate our 2014 cohort on the achievement of a set of record results.
“We are very proud of the students and wish them the very best for the future and welcoming them back for their sixth form studies.”
All 236 GCSE candidates at Stowmarket High School had at least one pass. Head teacher Keith Penn said: “They have exceeded the results from last summer and have thereby achieved the second highest set of scores the school has ever had,”
Of those, 59 per cent achieved five or more A* to Cs with 55 per cent getting five higher grades passes including maths and English, which compares with 66 and 54 per cent, respectively, last summer.
Stowupland High School has maintained the number of students gaining five A* to Cs including English and maths in spite of the changes to the exams.
A school spokesman said: “This is an amazing achievement and our students should be extremely proud of themselves.”
This year, 58 per cent of students have gained five passes at A* to C including English and maths, with 98 per cent of students gaining at least five passes at A* to G including English and maths.
Almost 70 per cent gained five A* to C passes overall.
Stowupland has seen a 100 per cent pass rate at A* to C for the BTEC subjects, art, health and social care and ICT.
At Culford School, 96 per cent of pupils got at least five A*-C GCSEs and 43 per cent of all grades were at A*-A. Twenty six per cent attained at least eight A* or A grades.
Headmaster Julian Johnson-Munday said:“We are very pleased with these excellent results. Our top pupils achieved suites of A* and A grades and the value added achieved across the ability range, on an individual and group basis, is very commendable’’.
Thetford Grammar School reported improved results, with 95 per cent of grades at A* to C. The whole cohort managed at least five A* to C, with 85 per cent achieving more than eight A* to C.
Headmaster Gareth Price praised the staff and students for their determination.
“The removal of the modular system in many ways benefits our pupils who in their small classes are able to focus effectively on preparing for their final exams.”