The proportion of GCSEs awarded top grades has fallen for the second year running, official figures revealed today. But schools in the West Midlands appeared to be bucking the trend.
Across the UK, 68.1 per cent of entrants scored grades between A* and C – down 1.3 per cent on 2012 levels, representing the biggest fall in the exams’ 25-year history.
The proportion of those gaining top grades also dropped, by 0.5 per cent, with 6.8 per cent achieving an A*.
The dip comes amid major changes to the exam system, with new regulator Ofqual overseeing tougher papers sat by more than 600,000 teenagers nationwide.
However many schools in the Black Country and Staffordshire posted record results while many others matched or nearly equalled last year's achievements.
At Cardinal Griffin Catholic High School, in Cannock, students produced the school’s best ever set of results, with 80 per cent achieving five or more A* to C grades, and 68 per cent reaching that benchmark including maths and English.
Headteacher Michael Burrowes said: “As a school, we are delighted with these results.
“I wish all of our students success in the future and we are pleased to be welcoming many of them back in September to our Sixth Form."
Others at Chase Grammar School were celebrating a pass rate of 86 per cent of pupils getting five A* to C GCSE grades.
Teachers and pupils at Stafford Grammar School had reason to celebrate as 99 per cent of exam entrants achieved five GCSEs graded between A* and C including maths and English, with 97 per cent of all exams sat passed with grades in that bracket.
Headmaster Mike Darley said: “We are all immensely proud of the pupils’ achievements.
At Shire Oak Academy in Walsall, 65 per cent of students achieved five or more A* to C grades, including English and maths.
Principal Gary Crowther said he was delighted with the performance.
Pupils at Shelfield Community Academy produced the best GCSE results in the history of the school this year.
All students achieved five or more GCSEs and just over 58 per cent of pupils achieved five GCSEs, including English and maths.
Principal Bernard Dickenson said: “Congratulations to all of our students, their families and our teachers. Everyone has worked incredibly hard throughout the year to achieve these outstanding results.”
St Thomas More Catholic School in Willenhall was also celebrating record results.
The number of students achieving five grade A* to C results, including English and maths, jumped from 50 per cent to 58 per cent this year. Three high-fliers achieved 10 A* or A grades. Headteacher Peter Mayland said: “These are the best GCSEs results in the school’s 40 year history and are testament to a relentless concentration on each individual student’s needs and continually examining how we might enable each of them to realise their full potential.”
GCSE results at Aldridge School saw a dramatic jump in the top A* grades, up by 30 per cent on previous years.
The school achieved an 86 per cent A* to C pass rate, with a quarter of pupils achieving five or more A and A* grades.
At Barr Beacon School, in Aldridge, the percentage of pupils achieving five A* to C grades, including English and maths, was 81 per cent – a rise from 80 per cent, compared to last year’s results.
Pool Hayes Arts and Community School in Willenhall also celebrated its best ever set of GCSE results this year.
A total of 55 per cent of pupils achieved five A* to C grades, including English and maths.
Ninety-eight per cent of pupils picked up at least five GCSE grades, 90 per cent of which were at grade A* to C.
All students at Hydesville Tower School secured five or more A* to C grades. At Willenhall E-ACT Academy, 47.2 per cent of students achieved five A* to C grades, including English and maths, and 78 per cent achieved five A* to C grades. Principal Tom Ashley said the GCSE results showed a marked improvement of nine per cent from last year.
In Sandwell, the proportion of students at Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury gaining five or more A* to C grades jumped six percentage points to 90 per cent.
Principal Pank Patel said: “GCSEs are the key to future learning and employment. We are delighted and incredibly proud of the achievements of Wood Green students, the vast majority of which will move seamlessly onto further education in the sixth form college or employment.
“This is a marvellous day for everyone who is associated with Wood Green Academy."
Phoenix Collegiate in West Bromwich saw a huge 14 percentage point rise, to 87 per cent, in students gaining five or more A* to C grades, and a five percentage point rise to 50 per cent in those achieving five or more A* to C grades including English and maths.
Headteacher Gary Hill said: “These results confirm the Ofsted view that we are a rapidly improving school. We are delighted with the results of our students this year, results that reflect the hard work and dedication of everybody associated with Phoenix.”
Meanwhile, The ACE Academy in Tipton scored a big jump in students achieving five or more A* to C grades including English and maths, increasing 12 percentage points to 50 per cent.
In Dudley borough, among the schools which saw an upwards trend in A* to C results were Bishop Milner Catholic School which achieved 74 per cent, up from 70 per cent last year, Kingswinford Academy which achieved 72 per cent, up from 70 per cent, and the Summerhill School, Kingswinford, which recorded 78 per cent up from 75 per cent.
Staff at The Dormston School, in Sedgley, which had recently been classed at inadequate by Ofsted inspectors, were pleased with an increase in the pass rates to 55 per cent, up from 36 per cent last year.
At Holly Hall Academy, in Dudley, staff declared their pride at results despite fierce concerns over grade boundaries that they say had resulted in 28 students missing out on a grade C in English.
Students at Old Swinford Hospital were jumping for joy after producing some outstanding results, in particular three students who were awarded eight grade A*.
The percentage of results awarded at A* to C grades in five or more subject including English and Maths was 71 per cent.
Headteacher Peter Jones said: “We are delighted that in a very tough year, our brightest students have achieved exceptional results, including those who gained eight A*. However, we are disappointed with what appears to be a downward trend nationally.”
A record breaking set of GCSE results were announced by Ellowes Hall Sports College, in Lower Gornal. In total 99.5 per cent of students gained 5 or more A* to C grades with almost one in five entries producing A* of A grades and with 90 per cent of entries producing A* to C grades.
Headteacher Andy Griffiths said: “We continue to go from strength to strength with more students than ever before gaining 5 or more A* to C GCSEs including English and Mathematics. A third of these students have also achieved the English Baccalaureate, which is a record for us.”
Early indications were that Wolverhampton schools had improved their GCSE results in spite of the dip in grades recorded nationally.
Councillor Phil Page, the council’s cabinet member for schools, skills and learning, said: "The general view at this stage is that we have done better this year than previously, and better than we had expected to."
The headteacher of Wolverhampton’s Royal School was delighted to see its GCSE results bucking the national trend of grades slipping.
At the Penn Road establishment every pupil passed their GCSEs and youngsters gained impressive results in maths – 93 per cent were at grade C or above and a third were either A or A*.
All students who took design and technology achieved an A grade in Peter Holliday’s last year as the head of department before retiring.
Headmaster Mark Heywood said: “I can understand it’s frustrating seeing things swing, but it’s unsustainable to keep inflating grades.
“We haven’t seen that negative effect though. In core subjects like English and maths we have performed well.”
Meanwhile at St Dominic’s High School for Girls in Brewood, 95 per cent of girls achieved five or more grades at A*-C with 31 per cent of all grades at A* or A.
Headteacher Harvey Trump said “The governors and staff are very proud of all the girls’ accomplishments.”
At Wolverhampton Grammar School, the outgoing headteacher Vincent Darby said he was delighted and felt he could retire on a high after students improved the results from last year.
Pupils achieved 66 per cent passes at A*-A, a 4 per cent increase.
Passes at A* were 34 per cent while all of its GCSE students gained a C or above in five or more subjects.
“These represent a tremendous set of GSCE results on which to bow out as head,” said Mr Darby, who is retiring after five years at the helm. Staff and students at Wolverhampton’s Moreton Community School were also celebrating as pupils followed up their best-ever set of A-level results with impressive GCSEs.
At the Old Fallings Lane School, Bushbury, 97 per cent of students achieved at least five A*-C grades.
At Wolverhampton Girls’ High School meanwhile, 81.3 per cent of entries were graded at A or A*with 44 students achieving A or A* in all of their subjects. Headteacher Trudi Young offered her congratulations to all of their students.
She said: “I am extremely proud of the achievements of the girls."