With many opening their A-level results to tears of joy, students across Suffolk and Norfolk ensured they are on track for a bright future - with some bucking the national trend.
As the overall pass rate nationally stood at 98.1 per cent with a slight dip in those achieving the top grades, County Upper School, in Bury St Edmunds, led the way in West Suffolk with a 100 per cent pass rate out of 103 students and 92 per cent achieving A*-C.
Head Vicky Neale said: I certainly don’t think the exams were easy this year and I’m delighted that yet again all the hard work of our students and staff has generated another stunning set of results.
“At the top end, more than one in five students has at least three A grades and four in 10 of all grades are A*/A.”
Among the high achievers were Harry Palmer, 18, of Lackford, who got two A*s and two As and will study English literature at St John’s College, in Oxford. He said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic but I couldn’t have done it without the superb teachers here.”
Head girl and boy Annabel Whyte and Harry Stone both secured three As.
Annabel, 17, of Bury, will study French and German at University College London.
Harry, 18, of Hundon, is taking a gap year spending time in France and apply to study English Literature at Oxford next year.
Pupils at King Edward VI School were celebrating their exam results with a complimentary curry courtesy of the Valley Connection restaurant, in Churchgate Street, where head Geoff Barton is a regular.
And there was plenty to celebrate. Overall the school saw 165 pupils sit exams with an overall pass rate of 99.5 per cent, with 89 per cent getting all grade Cs or higher.
“Yet again out students in this truly comprehensive school have attained some of the best results in Suffolk. We are so proud of all of them,” Mr Barton said. “Results like this don’t just happen each year by chance: they are testament to our brilliant team of inspiring A-level teachers.”
Friends Sophie Waldron and Rebecca Irvin were celebrating the top marks of the school year each with three A*s.
“No way. I can’t believe it,” said Sophie, who is off to read psychology at Oxford. “Waiting has been the worst thing.”
Rebecca is taking a gap year and travelling in Africa but has been accepted for a deferred place at reading English Literature at York.
St Benedict’s Catholic School achieved an overall pass rate of 99 per cent with 87 per cent of pupils getting A*-C.
Jack Gingell, head of sixth form, said: “These results are similar to last year’s results in which St Benedict’s was placed third nationally of all non-selective comprehensive schools. Students have done very well, they’ve obviously worked hard and we’re very pleased.”
Ellie Whittingdale, 18, of Bury, scored five A*s and will sit Law at Durham University.
She said: “I’m elated and it’s a bit surreal to be honest. I’m having a party tonight.”
Meanwhile, friends Nick Soper, 18, of Great Barton, and Matt Dawson, 18, of Bury, are both going to study medicine at Queen Mary Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Thurston Community College, which has the largest school sixth form in West Suffolk, saw its students achieve the best results in six years, with an overall pass rate of 99.5 per cent.
Almost a third passed with A* or A and 81.5 per cent achieved A*-C.
Principal Helen Wilson said: “We’re very proud of our comprehensive ethos. We allow students who achieve a grade E or above in AS level to continue into A2 therefore encouraging mixed ability cohorts in their final year and, despite that, to have 30 per cent of individuals passing with a grade A or A* is truly amazing.
“I couldn’t be more proud of all of our students who have achieved such fantastic results, a credit to their hard work and to that of their teachers.”
Stowmarket High School scored a 100 per cent pass rate and A*-C rate of 77 per cent.
Head Keith Penn headteacher: “I’m really pleased with our results. As far as I know everyone who applied for a university place has got the grades to get in. Our congratulations and very best wishes for the future go to all of our students and their families”
The school has seen a rise in students taking apprenticeships.
Mr Penn said: “I think it isn’t entirely financial because of the money involved in going to university but also that apprenticeships have upped their game and have been far more popular this year.”
Philip Nash, who got two A*s and three As off to Oxford to do maths.
Stowupland High School saw an overall pass rate of 98 per cent with a pass rate for A*-C at 69 per cent. More than 40 per cent of students were awarded A*-B.
Head Karen Grimes said: “Overall we’re really happy. Many of our students have faced huge obstacles and pressures but have stayed grounded through their exams to gain success. Today is a genuine cause for celebration. It shows hard work and commitment wins the day.”
A number of students decided to look at universities abroad and a lot of students are going into advanced apprenticeships.
Mildenhall College Academy scored a 97 per cent overall pass rate with 48 per cent achieving A*-C.
Head Susan Byles said: “This is a great set of results and the students must be congratulated on how hard they have worked. Our priority is to make sure that everyone gets a university place, apprenticeship or job offer. Well done!”
While 80 per cent of the school’s students will be going on to university, 10 per cent are moving into employment or apprenticeships, with the rest taking gap years.
The overall pass rate at Thetford Academy was 99 per cent with 42 per cent at A*-C.
Principal Cathy Spillane praised her sixth formers for the way they coped with the school moving and rebuilding.
The sixth formers have been based on the south campus in Staniforth Road while the rest of the school has been on the north campus where building work is going on.
Mrs Spillane said: “They didn’t have the building work but they had an empty school - a ghost school - which could have been demotivating but they got their heads down and got on with it.”
As a result the academy had 65 students complete key stage 5 against 17 last year.
One of the top achivers was Zanis Bikentals, a Latvian born student, who gained two Bs and an A.
He and Brook Cox, who got an A and two Cs, will be going to the University of East Anglia.
The school is strong in performing arts and Kelly Ann Bunce and Sophie Barnham Way each achieved two distinctions and an A merit which is equivalent to more than one A Level.
The Iceni Academy Hockwold and Methwold had a 99 per cent pass rate with 60 per cent at A*-C.
Vice principal Alison Tilbrook said: “We’re really pleased with our A2 results, the majority of our students have gained their first choice university place, which include some of the top universities in the country including Warwick, UEA and Nottingham.”
At Culford School 54% of all grades were at A*- B level and 82% were A*- C. A total of 71 pupils sat the examinations, with 82 per cent achieveing A* to C.
Thetford Grammar School saw 87 per cent pof students gain A*-C and there was a 100 per cent passrate A*-E.