Gallery: Students begin to find out their GCSE results in west Suffolk

GCSE results day at St Benedicts Catholic School, Bury St Edmunds.

GCSE results day at St Benedicts Catholic School, Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Lucy taylor

Young people across west Suffolk are discovering how they have performed in their GCSEs this morning.

St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds is celebrating its best GCSE results for the last three years, and a huge rise in the five A* to C pass rate from 2013.

The percentage of students achieving 5 A* to C grades including English and Maths is 71%, 18 percentage points better than last year.

Also, a very high proportion of A* and A grades were achieved in English, which had a pass rate of 76%.

St Benedict’s took the decision to move to what had been called the “International GCSE” in 2012 following the “fiasco” over AQA English results that year.

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Most St Benedict’s students took the new-style exam, which has no coursework or controlled assessments.

Headteacher Hugh O’Neill said: “We were very unhappy with the huge fluctuation in our English results when the 2012 results came out. Like many schools, we made our protests about the reliability of the AQA exam, and got nowhere.

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“The English department proposed that we move to the new-style exam, and I am very glad that we did.”

He added: “I am 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.

“It has been a very tough couple of years for English departments everywhere, and St Benedict’s English teachers have worked tremendously hard to help students achieve the grades they deserve.

“That goes also for all the other staff, whose hard work and dedication is reflected in some really outstanding results.”

Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard is also celebrating its best GCSE results in the 40 year history of the school with 60% of the 227 students who sat the examinations achieving 5 A* to C passes, including English and Maths - a rise of 5% on last year. Twenty-five students did exceptionally well by attaining more than five passes at the highest grades A* or A.

Headteacher Wayne Lloyd said: “We are delighted for the students who have done well this summer, our best results yet. It is a reflection of their hard work and dedication and they should feel justifiably proud of their achievements. However, this is just the start. Thomas Gainsborough School has changed significantly over the last couple of years and standards will continue to rise in the future. We have an exciting time ahead of us.”

At Castle Manor Academy in Haverhill more students than last year have achieved A* to C grades in English, with this figure rising to 64%. And 59% of students achieved A* to C grades in Mathematics.

These results are amongst the highest ever at the academy, and come despite schools having been prepared for a high amount of volatility in results by the exams regulator, Ofqual.

The Chief Regulator, Glenys Stacey, recently wrote to schools to advise that they should expect to see more variation in results year on year, more variation between schools and greater variation between subjects.

As with other schools all over the country the breadth of these changes has had an impact on the overall picture at Castle Manor.

This year the percentage of students achieving the benchmark of A* to C grades in both English and Maths is 51%.

Head of School Matthew Gibson said: “Our students should be proud of their results today. They represent a punctuation in their learning journey and individual results will equip them well for the next stage of their journey, either at our sixth form, CB Sixth, at other colleges or in one of the varied next steps available to them.”

Mr Gibson has just completed his first year as head of school at Castle Manor Academy.

He said: “The work we have done with students means that our English and Maths results have bucked expectations, but we were clearly not impervious to national issues. Our curriculum continues to grow and will benefit from increased stability as the new qualifications are embedded.”

Thetford Grammar School reported improved results this year with 96.5% achieving the benchmark of A* to C including English and Maths.

The whole cohort achieved at least five A* to C grades each and 85% achieved more than eight A* to C grades.

The headmaster Gareth Price praised staff and pupils for their hard work and determination to succeed.

He said: “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 final exams.”

Thetford Academy achieved record results this year with 50% of students gaining five or more 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.”

At County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds almost a quarter of the year achieved five or more A* or A grades including English and Maths.

Headteacher Vicky Neal, 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.

“Top performer was Chloe Cunningham with 12 straight A* in all her subjects closely followed by Ellie Brian, Skye Brook, Will Curwen, Marian Denby, Gabby Deora , Rosie Hudson and Adelle Wood.

“Given the new tougher exams we are delighted that our A* to C in English and Science remained in the mid-eighties and 86% gained 5+ A* to 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.”

Meanwhile at Ormiston Sudbury Academy, headteacher Caroline Wilson refused to release the figures requested by the EADT relating to the 121 students who took GCSEs. She said: “In a year of turbulence and uncertainty regarding grade boundaries and changes to marking, we are delighted to report an increase in our top grades – 11% of all grades secured are A* to A or equivalent. Staff and students have prepared well for these external examinations amidst the national changes.

“We are challenging some grades and will therefore release final figures when these have been received.”

King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds is celebrating as 58% of its students have achieved the benchmark measure.

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 have gained five or more A and A*s. These are seriously impressive.

“Against national trends, boys have performed particularly well - for example Will Burgess gains eight 8* and 2 As and Callum Millar gained five A*s and four As.

“We are delighted to have significantly exceeded the national average for top grades - these are the grades needed to help our students get into top universities in the future; 18% of our grades were at A or A*.

“These results open doors to sixth form and college courses. We are thrilled to see so many of our students, in a year of huge volatility, do so well.”

Mildenhall College Academy has expressed disappointment over its results, which principal Susan Byles said did not reflect the “incredible” hard work undertaken by these students.

This year 40% of students gained at least five A* to C grades including English and Maths.

Ms Byles said: “They worked conscientiously during the course, doing everything they could to prepare including attending revisions sessions after school, at weekends and even during the holidays.

“GCSEs are becoming increasingly difficult to pass and there are now fewer opportunities for students to re-sit their exams or study for alternative qualifications. Therefore it is all or nothing for those students who find passing GCSEs at grades A* to C incredibly difficult despite making every effort and trying their hardest.

“We seem to have an examination system in this country which is intent on failing a large proportion of students and which has removed all of the alternatives that they used to succeed in.”

Ian Cleland, chief executive of Academy Transformation Trust, said: “Our staff at Mildenhall College Academy are committed to ensuring that we give our pupils the best opportunities to succeed. We will be working with the principal, Susan Byles, and her team to offer focussed support where it is needed in the coming months and expect to see results rise next year.”

The head of school of Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill said he was “incredibly proud” of the achievment of their pupils.

This year 69% met the Government’s demanding measure of five A* to C grades including English and Maths in a year when the emphasis has been placed on terminal examinations and the outcomes of first time entry.

Head of School Andy Prestoe said: “I am incredibly proud of the achievement of our pupils. They have had to work extremely hard and have shown great determination. The progress that they have made is phenomenal.

“The fact that so many did well in academic subjects like English, maths, languages, history, and science, as well as in creative subjects like art, media and design technology, is a real plus for their future employment and college prospects. It’s also testimony to the skill and dedication of the teaching staff and the support provided by their parents.”

Thurston Community College saw similar results this year to last year, with 62% of students achieving five or more A* to C grades including English and Maths the time.

Principal Helen Wilson said: “Our results this year are pretty much the same as we got last year despite all the changes in the way the assessment framework has been implemented. We are absolutely delighted.”

She said 356 students sat 3006 examinations between them with 75% of those exams passed with a grade C or above.

“We are really proud,” she added. “Lots of hard work and success stories. Seeing the joy and delight on students and parents faces this morning was a real pleasure. It’s days like today that make the job as great a job as it is really.”

The head of school at Newmarket Academy has said the “green shoots” of improvement are revealed in this year’s results.

A total of 46% of students achieved five or more A* to C grades including English and Maths.

The academy is delighted English results rose by 15% to 73% for grades A* to C. In English where students sat the challenging new examination style, with no coursework elements allowed, 72% of the Academy’s students made three levels of progress which is higher than the national averages based on last year’s figures.

Head of school Nick Froy said: “The academy is confident that it will build on this now secure platform to deliver above national average results in all subjects in 2015.

“The “green shoots” of recovery identified by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools are evident in these results. The commitment of the staff at the academy to continue to drive up results and the support of the Samuel Ward Academy Trust will bear further fruit over the coming year. We remain committed to creating a school the community can be proud of.”

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