GCSE results: Youngsters find out fate under new grades - PICTURES
School pupils are today celebrating straight Grade 9s instead of Grade As for the first time.
The old A-U grading system has been ditched in favour of numerical grades 1 to 9 – with 9 being the equivalent of an A*.
And plenty of students will be on cloud nine as they open their exam results with classmates across the Black Country and Staffordshire today.
St Dominic’s Grammar School in Brewood is again celebrating an ‘excellent set of GCSE results’, and headteacher Peter McNabb paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of students – and also the contributions made by parents and staff.
He said: “These results reinforce our position among the top schools in the country.”
Staff at St Edmund's Catholic Academy, in Wolverhampton, were delighted with the success of their students as results came in.
Eighty per cent of the students achieved the new GCSE grades 9-4 in English and 73 per cent in Mathematics.
New Principal Mrs Maggie Hazeldine said: "Once again our students have excelled in their efforts through conscientious study and listening to the advice and guidance of their exceptional teachers."
West Midlands University Technical College was celebrating an overall improvement in GCSE grades, with some outstanding individual performances.
The Wolverhampton School, which opened in 2016, combines traditional academic qualifications with professional and technical skills focusing on innovation, design and building.
Principal Av Gill said: “We are very pleased with this year’s GCSE results, which show a significant improvement of half a grade per entry.
“There were some exceptional individual performances, with several students achieving the top 7,8 and 9 grades across the board. We’re really proud of our students and would also like to thank our dedicated staff for their support.”
The success follows on from a positive Ofsted report earlier this summer and strong A Level results last week, with a 100% pass rate for specialist technical qualifications.
Pupils and staff at Kingsmead High School, in Cannock Chase, celebrated a fantastic set of results.
Staff say they had been ‘blown away’ with the achievements this year in the context of a shift to the more challenging 1-9 grading system.
School head Maria Mincher said: “We are all proud of the outstanding achievement of our students and the tremendous effort our teachers have put in.
"It’s been a huge pleasure to see so many happy students with new opportunities opening up as they achieve even better results than they expected.
"The results this year complement our outstanding A level results showing just how much value we are adding to students’ academic outcomes.”
Grace Academy Darlaston has continued to see year on year improvements with record numbers of students achieving level 4 and level 5 or above in English and Maths.
Students were overjoyed with their results at Wolgarston High School, in Penkridge. Not only did students achieve top-drawer grades in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, but they also continued the trend across a broad range of the foundation subjects.
Headteacher Philip Tapp said: “I am especially delighted to see such notable success in core subjects and this is down to teachers delivering great lessons and students backing it up with good old hard-work.
"Our English department is a case in point; nationally English has long-since been a subject that has split groups, whether that be gender, prior attainment or social background, however at Wolgarston we have recorded a stunning 90 per cent of boys having passed and 92 per cent of girls. This goes to show that our team of fantastic English teachers know exactly what they are doing and have their students completely on board.”
Among those celebrating at Bristnall Hall Academy, in Oldbury, are Gurpreet Singh, Zain Yousef, Euan James, Parminder Kaur, Holly Marthews, Maryam Umar and Todd Leathem.
These students achieved top 9-7 grades (A*-A equivalent), positioning them amongst the top performing students nationally.
Principal Vince Green commented: “This is another excellent set of results from an outstanding set of young people and sustains the year on year rapid improvement and high performance at our academy."
The number of students achieving the top grade at Ellowes Hall Sports College in Lower Gornal has more than doubled.
A total of 84 per cent of our students passed English and 73 per cent of students passed Mathematics.
Pupils from Hydesville Tower School in Walsall are celebrating excellent GCSE results today, with 98.6 per cent of all exams achieving a “good pass” at the new Grade 4+, compared to the national average of 66.9 per cent.
Results show 81.3 per cent achieved a “strong pass” at Grade 5+ in English Language and 93.8 per cent in Maths.
All pupils at Hydesville achieved a Grade 7 or above in at least one subject, with almost half of the cohort securing the new top Grade 9.
Students at Wodensborough Ormiston Academy (WOA) in Wednesbury are celebrating today after receiving the best GCSE and BTEC results in the academy’s history with improvement across the board.
Overall, more than half of students achieved Grade 4 or better in both English and Maths, a 13-percentage point increase on last year, with a Grade 4 the new grade set by the Government as a pass.
Some 29 per cent of students also achieved Grade 5 or better in English and maths, which is defined as a ‘good’ pass by the Government. This is a 13 percentage point increase on last year.
Wolverhampton Girls’ High School headteacher Trudi Young said pupil's results were a testament to their hard work.
She said: "Congratulations to all of our students on their fantastic GCSE results.
"They have worked incredibly hard to secure such great outcomes.
"I am incredibly proud of the way the students have given their personal best.
"They should each be congratulated for achieving such great results.
"They are testament to the commitment and dedication shown by the girls and the incredible support that they receive from their families and the staff.
"We wish all of our students the best of luck with the next stage of their education.
"It is always difficult to single out highlights but special mention should be made of the increase we have seen in the top grades with a fantastic 48% of all entries at grades 8/9/A*. A staggering eight students achieved these grades in every one of their examinations. "
Wolverhampton Grammar School’s headteacher Kathy Crewe-Read has also congratulated all her staff and students after another ‘outstanding year’ – where 73 per cent of all grades awarded were a 9, 8 or 7.
She said: “To achieve the top grade of A* takes a combination of excellent teaching, hard work and determination.
“Happy students do well and for so many of our students to achieve an A*, A or truly exceptional 9 is a credit to their brilliant teachers and the extraordinary pastoral support in place at school.”
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And at Highfields School in Wolverhampton, more than half of all students achieved a 7 or above.
Pupils attained higher grades than last year, with 77 per cent achieving a standard pass of 4 or above in both English and maths, a five per cent increase.
Also, just less than 60 per cent of students attained a pass of 5 or above in both English and maths – an increase of 10 per cent.
Mrs N Clifton, head of upper school, said: “We are very proud of the effort and achievement of all students and staff. I would like to thank all parents for their hard work and continued support and wish our students all the very best of luck for the future after another outstanding set of GCSE results.”
The Hart School in Rugeley is continuing to celebrate GCSE exam success for its students following on from its pupils’ A-level results.
Stand out students include Will Langston, who achieved an impressive four grades at level 9 as well as an A*; Jayden Dave, who achieved the highest grade 9 in all science subjects; and Edward Jenkins, who attained a level 9 in English Language.
There were also excellent performances from Sarah McQueen, Will Thomas and Luke Martin who also achieved top grades in some subjects.
All these students will now continue to build on their “outstanding results”, by continuing to study A Levels in The Hart School’s Sixth Form, which is headed up by Ben Brennan.
Chris Keen, principal of the school, which is part of Creative Education Trust, said: “We are extremely proud of all the hard work and commitment of our students in their GCSE’s with the support of all our dedicated staff.”
Arshvir Dhaliwal, from Sedgley, attends King Edward VI Five Ways School in Birmingham. He got nines '9s' and one 8 and one 7.
"I was expecting about three or four level nine grades but to get nine of them is crazy," he said.
"I'm very proud and excited for the future. I was meant to get an email this morning but it never came so I had to go into the school and get the envelope. I think that was deliberate from the school because they wanted me in to take photos, it's amazing.
"I'm planning to stay at the school and do A-levels in biology, chemistry and maths and eventually move into the medical side and work with footballers and injuries.
"My family is so proud and has been telling everyone about it. I'm so happy with how I've done, I exceeded my expectations."
His father Mandeep Dhaliwal added: "We couldn't sleep last night, we've been waiting for these results in anticipation.
"I'm so unbelievably proud, words cannot describe it, but he's put a lot of work in and has been very dedicated so he deserves it."
Students at Queen Mary’s Grammar School in Walsall were also celebrating.
In total 65 per cent of all grades came in at A/A* or 7-9. In the Mathematics GCSE, 85 per cent of all entries were a grade 7 or better.
Headmaster Richard Langton said: "This year group took reformed GCSE exams in 62 per cent of all entries and have worked very hard to overcome the challenges of these new courses.
"As ever, they have much more to be proud of other than their exam performance. Members of year 11 were part of the expeditions and trips to north and central America, Europe and Asia; and have made great progress through the school’s combined cadet force. They have excelled in sporting/musical performance and have impressed with their entries to science/maths Olympiads and national design competitions."
At Cardinal Griffin Catholic College in Cannock 75 per cent of the grades were grade 9 to 4 or equivalent.
Overall, 65 per cent of the pupils achieved five GCSEs with their English and maths at the higher grades.
Top performer was Connor Forsyth who achieved one grade 7, two grade 8s and six grade 9s
There were plenty of smiles at Ormiston Forge Academy in Cradley Heath with nearly half of all students achieving Grade 4 or above in English and maths.
In English, 64 per cent of students achieved Grade 4 or above. The academy also saw strong attainment in individual subjects including chemistry, where more than half of students achieved a Grade 7 or above.
There were some outstanding individual performances including Raihaanah Kulthoom who achieved four grade 9s, two A*s, five grade 8s and one A.
Dr Lisa Mason, Head of Academy at Ormiston Forge Academy, said: "We are delighted that students at Ormiston Forge continue to make strong progress and I'm pleased and incredibly proud of all our students, who have worked so hard to get the grades they need and deserve.
"Against a backdrop of new tougher exams and new grading systems, we have focussed on supporting individual student needs. We set high expectations for our students and staff and work hard to ensure that every student at Forge fulfils their potential.”
Pupils at Stuart Bathurst Catholic High School in Wednesbury were also celebrating excellent exam results today.
Headteacher Jeremy Harris said: "Exam results have risen across the majority of subjects and there have been some outstanding individual performances with lots of pupils gaining grade 9s, including head girl Rashida Akalwaya who achieved seven grade 9s and two A*s."
At Crestwood School and Sixth Form in Kingswinford, there were a total of 119 grade 7, 8 or 9s across all subjects, with almost a quarter of the year group achieving these top grades in English and 10 students achieved a grade 9.
At Bishop Milner Catholic College in Dudley continues its success at GCSE with 70 per cent of students achieving five or more standard passes including English and maths. A third of students have achieved grade 7 or above on average in all subjects.
Top performing student was Ishika Patel whose exceptional performance included six grade 9’s and four grade 8’s.
At Walsall’s Joseph Leckie Academy there was an improvement in the number of students achieving pass grades in both English and mathematics, with improvements in a number of other subjects.
Principal, Keith Whittlestone said, “Everyone connected with Joseph Leckie is to be congratulated for these good results which are the result of a hard work from the students and our dedicated team of staff.
"I would like to say very well done to all of Year 11 who have worked very hard and shown just what a fine group of youngsters they are and what tremendous potential they have."
St Peter’s Collegiate School was celebrating the best results in its history with 81 per cent of all pupils achieved five grades 9 or 8 to 4 and 76 per cent achieved five 9 or 8 to 4 grades including English and mathematics.
At Tettenhall College two-thirds of pupils achieved five or more grades 9-4 including English and mathematics at Level 4 and above.
Among the top students at Aldridge School was Irfarn Mahmood with four grade 9s in biology, physics, history and religious studies along with two grade 8s.
Overall, at Old Swinford Hospital School, in Stourbridge, 85 per cent of all grades were at 9-4 and Headmaster Paul Kilbride was keen to congratulate the pupils.
“There is no doubt that these reformed GCSEs are more difficult than those that have previously been taken and so many congratulations are due to this year’s students who have very much been the test case year, both at this school and at all other maintained schools in England.
"It is also important to recognise that this generation of young people face considerable pressure both before and during the exam season and so it really is to their credit that they do not become one dimensional, but rather engage fully with life outside of the classroom,” he said.
At Holly Lodge School in Smethwick headteacher Paul Shone is delighted with his students and results.
“Once again it is pleasing to see so many successful outcomes and real progress made by students this year, with many students attaining the new level 9.
"It has been fantastic to see hundreds of happy smiling faces now set to embark on their next step into post 16 education many of which will be staying on in our own successful sixth form."
Students were also cheered on by people living nearby.
They had erected posters with motivational messages in their front gardens on the road leading to the school entrance.
Students of Wolverley CE Secondary School, near Kidderminster, have once again improved their GCSE performance with the school’s best ever GCSE results. Bryn Thomas, Headteacher said, “We are delighted that the number of students gaining a 9–5 grade in English and maths tops last year’s achievement by four per cent. The school is improving year on year due to the effort and ambition of students and staff. I am very proud indeed.”
Students and staff at Cheslyn Hay Sport and Community High School are thrilled with the results where 68 per cent of students achieved the new grades 9-4 in maths and 67 per cent in English. The school achieved 32 of the new top grade of 9s across all subjects, which are only awarded to the very top performers in the country.
Halesowen's Leasowes High School, part of Invictus Education Trust, is celebrating an increase in its GCSE results this year. Headteacher, Matthew Mynott said "The results are testament to the hard work that the students have put in, supported by our dedicated staff and parents. I would like to congratulate each of them for their success this year."
The school has seen 63 per cent of its students achieve grades nine to four in English and maths, with 32 per cent achieving grades nine to five.
Walton High School headteacher Neil Finlay said he was pleased with the results: “We are delighted with this year’s results which have seen a very strong performance in the core subjects of English, maths, science, modern languages and humanities. This is the first year where virtually all subjects have moved over to the new 9-1 grading system and we are delighted to have continued Walton High School’s strong tradition of outstanding academic performance.”
Fifty-six per cent of students and staff at George Salter Academy in West Bromwich achieved Grade 4 or better in English and in maths – with a Grade 4 defined as a pass by the Government. This is an increase of four percentage points on last year’s figure. Some 30 per cent of students achieved Grade 5 or better in English and maths – considered a ‘good’ pass under the new grading system.
Results continue to go from strength to strength at Earls High School in Halesowen and the students are now looking to build on their results. Overall 70 per cent of students achieved grade 4 or better in English and Maths with 50 per cent of students achieving grade 5 or better in both.
Lesley Beck, headteacher of Sir Graham Balfour School in Stafford said: "I am extremely proud of our students and their achievement in the GCSE examinations. At a time of major change in the examination system, our students and staff have worked tirelessly to cope with those changes. Their dedication and determination have been well rewarded. Amongst many success stories we congratulate the following for their overall, outstanding performance: Mateusz Bedkowski, Jack Carr, Daniel Cooper, Lucio Estibeiro, Billy Fernyhough, Rowan Hamer, Phoebe Hanson, Wojciech Jasiurkowski, Mirab Kay, Gemma Lavelle, Katherine Lemmon, Thomas Little, Ryan Shaw, Lucy Spencer, Nicholas Walter who between them racked up a truly amazing number of 9s, 8s, A*, A and 7s."
Step into the unknown
Discussing the new grading system Andrew Burns, executive principal of Ormiston Forge Academy in Cradley Heath, said tackling the new grades had been a ‘step into the unknown’.
He said: “Parents don’t really understand, employers don’t either. Some of the kids don’t know whether their 1 to 9 grade is a pass or not. It’s taking us a bit of time to get used to it.
“For example, the new 5 grade is equivalent to the old B grade. It’s hard for children who have come from primary school.
"If they got a 5 in their SATs but then a 5 in their GCSEs then does that mean they have made no progress in five years? Explaining the process to parents has been difficult.
“But we are not defined as human beings by the GCSE results we get.
“No-one will be asking you what your results are in 30 years. If you have worked hard and done well, then brilliant. If you didn’t, then learn from what you didn’t do for next time.”
Advice will be on hand at schools across the region, for the students unsure of the next step to take.
Headteacher at Joseph Leckie in Walsall, Keith Whittlestone, urged students to remember that, whatever the outcome, ‘it’s not the end of the world’.
He said: “If you have done well then that’s a stepping stone to college or sixth form or work based learning like apprenticeships, but then there will be that number who will be disappointed.
“There’s been a lot of talk from the government about toughening up GCSEs and I do think there’s evidence that they are getting harder.”
Meanwhile some headteachers have raised concerns that the new grading system sends a “demoralising message” to students who are likely to score lower results in their exams.
A "better way" needs to be found of recognising the achievement of teenagers who score lower than a 4 - equivalent to a C under the old system - in the new, tougher, GCSE courses, school leaders said.
Last year, one in five UK GCSE entries scored at least an A - or a 7 under the new system, while two thirds scored at least C - equivalent to a 4 under the new system.
Under the biggest shake-up of exams in England for a generation, GCSEs have been toughened up, and traditional A*-G grades scrapped and replaced with a 9-1 system, with 9 the highest grade.
According to research by Cambridge Assessment, as few as 200 students could score a clean sweep of 9s in all of their GCSEs this year.
Ahead of results day, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said it had concerns about pupils performing at the lower end of the grading scale.
"The Government's intention is that the new system provides greater differentiation between grades", Malcolm Trobe, ASCL deputy general secretary said.
"For example, it replaces A* and A with three grades, 7, 8 and 9.
"Our concern, however, is over those pupils at the other end of the scale who are taking exams which are harder than their predecessors and who have been told by the Government that a grade 4 is a 'standard pass' and a grade 5 is a 'strong pass'.
"That is a very demoralising message to those who achieve grades 1, 2 and 3, and the new system does not work very well for them at all.
"These young people have completed demanding programmes of study and we need to find a better way to credit their achievements."
There have been suggestions in recent weeks that grade boundaries could be lower this year for new GCSEs compared with the old system.
Last year, when grades were awarded for the first time for new maths GCSE, students sitting the higher tier maths course - which is aimed at higher-achieving pupils - needed to score at least 18 per cent on average to secure a grade 4, while on average, 52 per cent was needed for a 7, and 79 per cent for a grade 9.
Exams regulator Ofqual has said it uses statistical processes to ensure that results are comparable year-on-year, and to ensure that students who are he first to take the new-style qualifications are not disadvantaged in any way.