Schools bucking national trend as students celebrate GCSE results
It was an emotional day for many as youngsters from across the region found out how well the last two years of their school studies had gone.
GCSE results day brought thousands of students to schools and colleges across the Black Country, Staffordshire and Wyre Forest to collect their GCSE results and take stock of two years of hard work amid lockdowns, teacher strikes and other issues along the way.
National figures have shown that the proportion of GCSE entries awarded top grades has fallen from last year, but is higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than a fifth (22.0 per cent) of UK GCSE entries were awarded the top grades, at least a 7 or an A grade, this year, down by 4.3 percentage points on last year when 26.3 per cent of entries achieved the top grades.
However, this remains higher than the equivalent figure for 2019, before the pandemic, of 20.8 per cent.
Overall, there were around 203,000 fewer top grades (7/A) compared with last year, but there were 142,000 more top grades awarded this year than in 2019.
The proportion of entries getting at least a 4 or a C grade, considered a "standard pass", has fallen from 73.2 per cent in 2022 to 68.2 per cent this year, a drop of five percentage points, but higher than 67.3 per cent in 2019.
For those getting their results in Sedgley and Hednesford, the wait had been a long and tense one, but the end result for many of them had been worth it, with several gaining results which exceeded their own expectations.
At Beacon Hill Academy in Sedgley, the doors of the drama hall were open at 8am to welcome students in, with a large queue forming ahead of time.
The first signs of excitement came from 16-year-old Frances Blackham, who bounced around the hall with glee after finding out she'd got a 6 in maths, something she said she wasn't expecting at all, alongside other excellent results.
She said: "I've done extremely well and I never expected to get the results I've got, with 9's in English literature and history, an 8 in English language and drama, 6's in maths and double science and a distinction star in sports.
"I really wasn't expecting a 6 in maths and I'm really happy about that, so I'm now preparing to go to Halesowen College to study English literature, history and dance.
"The last two years have been harder than they should have been because of Covid, but I think just getting my head down and making sure I got the work done means I've ended up with results this this."
Frances was among a large group celebrating their success alongside Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, who said it was one of the best events of the year for him to come down to because of the happiness on people's faces.
He said: "You just see lots of smiley faces and you can see people being rewarded for their effort and these are our future, so I think the fact they have achieved their results in context of the marks being adjusted to 2019 standards is really massive and testament to all the hard work they and their teachers and parents have put in."
Thomas Cartwright from Tipton was also celebrating after getting 7's in English language and maths, an 8-7 in science and a distinction* in sports and said he felt he had done the best he could and was looking to the future.
He said: "I think I've done well with the marks I've got as I was always better at maths than English language, so to get 8's in both is great and I said when I came in that as long as I get what I need to pass and get to college, then that's fine and anything else would be a bonus.
"I'm off to do sport at Halesowen College, so everything that came from the last two years has been worth it to be able to get there.
"It's been a difficult time and a lot of hard work, revising and coming to after-school and morning sessions and doing the exams, some of which were very long, but to get the results I've got has made it all worth it and I'm very happy."
Tanin Sadri was also celebrating his results, which allowed him to go to King Edwards College in Stourbridge to do A Levels in maths, physics and chemistry, with the 16-year-old from Dudley saying he had done reasonably well.
He said: "I've got results which are over 6's and the majority are very good, with an 8 in maths, history and double in 8 in science, a 7 in English language, 6's for English literature and art and distinction in engineering.
"I could have got a 7 for some of the 6's, but I'm not too disappointed with what I've got as I've loved studying at the school."
Principal, Sukhjot Dhami said: “Our learners have worked incredibly hard this year.
"I am proud that our learners, parents/carers and staff have worked exceptionally to buck the national trend.
"They are to be congratulated on a fabulous set of results which continues to underline the strong improvements in academic provision at our academy which have been building over the last five years.
"This is a year group that have achieved very highly and have made excellent progress from their starting points and, rewardingly, almost all of our learners will be going on to excellent destinations to study A levels or other level 3 qualifications."
Over at Kingsmead School in Hednesford, the school had also bucked the national trend with high numbers of pupils achieving high marks from their two years of study.
One of the highest achievers was Luke Garner from Hednesford, who achieved eight 9's, a 7 and a distinction* in BTEC Sport, and had overcome anxiety to gain results he said he was overwhelmed by.
He said: "All I can say is wow as it has been amazing and I am so proud of my results as it just goes to show that the effort I've put into what I've done has really paid off.
"I'd done well in my mock exams and I was expecting something pretty good, but this is something else.
"I'm going to stay here to do maths, further maths, physics and computer science for A Level in Sixth Form and while it has definitely been difficult over the last two years, we all pulled it together and I'm really grateful to the school and very happy."
Cara Nicholls also did well, with six 9s and four 8s, and was thankful to everyone who had helped her along the way.
She said: "I’m very happy and very pleased with how things have gone today.
"Thank you to all the teachers who have been very helpful with the exams and supporting me.
"I’m planning to join the Sixth Form to now do maths, English, history and music."
James Lloyd from Hednesford had exceeded his own expectations with his results, with a mixture of 6s to 8s and a distinction* in IT, something he said he had been told by the exam board placed him in the top two per cent for the country in that exam.
He said: "I've done better than I thought I had and while there are a few results that could have been better, I've done really well and the hard work and hours put in have definitely paid off for the results I achieved.
"I'm looking at my options for Sixth Form at the moment, staying here at Kingsmead, then going onto do some level of apprenticeship or employment afterwards, but I'm going to enjoy today first."
Headteacher Maria Mincher praised the pupils for their hard work and success.
She said: "They've done exceptionally well this year and we were a little concerned looking at the local released about what was going to happen to results and, in particular, top grades dropping, but this hasn't affected Kingsmead and we have maintained our position from last year.
"We're hoping to retain our position as one of the top schools in Staffordshire for both GCSE and A Levels and I think, over the last couple of years, our pupils have worked exceptionally hard and we are seeing the fruits of their labour."