THREE schools in the Henley area have celebrated their best-ever GCSE results.
Gillotts School, Langtree School in Woodcote and Highdown School in Emmer Green all beat their own previous best performances.
This mirrored the results nationally as about 68 per cent of all exam papers scored A* to C grades, up by 0.7 per cent on last year, although there was a dip in English grades.
There were jubilant scenes at Gillotts School in Henley where 81 per cent of the 180 GCSE students achieved five or more passes at grade C or above, including English and maths, shattering last year’s record by almost 10 per cent.
Across all subjects 87 per cent gained five or more passes at A* to C.
Headteacher Catharine Darnton said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic — these are the best results we have had by a long, long way and I’m just tremendously proud of the young people and all their achievements.”
She said it was a testament to the hard work the school had put in over the years.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, you have to set your mind to improving a school over a long, long time and it’s great to see everybody’s efforts coming to fruition. These results come about through successful collaboration between students, teachers and parents.”
Achievement in the subjects that make up the English Baccalaureate — maths, two sciences, English, a humanity and a language — saw 55 per cent of pupils gain a C grade or above. The national average last year was 22 per cent.
Overall 42 per cent of grades were A* or A.
Forty-two per cent of pupils gained an A* or A grade in English language and 37 per cent in maths, while 89 per cent achieved A* to C grade in each of English language and maths.
In each of biology, chemistry, physics, history and geography, between 50 and 60 per cent of grades were A* or A.
Almost a third of students achieved eight or more passes at grades A* or A and almost half achieved five or more A* and A grades.
Many of the year 11 pupils arrived at the school in Gillotts Lane on Thursday last week to collect their results ready to celebrate at Reading Festival over the weekend.
Others said they would be enjoying a meal out with their parents or having a party.
High achievers included Sally Kuspisz, 16, of St Katherine’s Road, Henley, who achieved 10 A*s and one A grade. She will study A-level history, German and maths at The Henley College.
She said she was “amazingly happy” with her results.
India Burgess, 16, of Baskerville Road, Sonning Common, was awarded nine A*s and two A grades. She plans to study A-level history, French, music and biology at The Henley College.
India said: “I was quite shocked but really pleased.”
Other students who performed well included 16-year-olds Harriet Parfitt, of Plowden Way, Shiplake Cross, and Bethan Price-Davies, of Arch Hill, Binfield Heath, who both achieved nine A*s and two A grades, and Riona Fumi, of Wyfold Lane, Peppard Common, who was awarded seven A*s and five A grades.
High-achieving boys included Alex Morgan, 16, of St Mark’s Road, Henley, who achieved eight A*s, two As and one B grade.
“I’m buzzing,” he said. “I was a bit nervous but now I’m really, really happy and excited about Reading Festival.”
He will study A-level English literature, maths, economics and history at Sir William Borlase’s School in Marlow.
He will be joined there by Hannah Barnett, 16, from Stoke Row, who achieved three A*s and eight A grades and will study A-level English, history, biology and dance.
Hannah’s father Phil said: “I’m absolutely delighted and really, really proud. She worked really hard.”
Charly Ayers, 16, of Kennylands Road, Sonning Common, achieved five A*s, three As and two C grades, while her twin sister Robyn was awarded three A*s and seven A grades.
Charly said: “I was convinced she was going to do better than me and she was convinced I was going to do better.”
Both will attend either The Henley College or William Borlase. Both will study biology, psychology and art while Charly will also take further maths and Robyn English literature.
Gillotts deputy head Elsa Torres said she was “incredibly proud” of the students.
She said: “It’s so exciting to look at their expressions when they see how well they’ve done.
“They have all achieved good grades due to sheer hard work.
“The school puts work into both the students’ grades and them as people and it’s great to see all that pay off.” Langtree School in Woodcote celebrated its best-ever results with 76 per cent of pupils achieving five or more A* to C grades, including English and maths, up from 62 per cent last year.
Eighty-five per cent secured five or more A* to C grades, an increase of six per cent on last year.
Pass rates were up by more than 10 per cent for the second year running with 39 per cent of all grades awarded being A* or A.
One of the top performers was Kate Proctor, 16, from Whitchurch Hill, who achieved 13 A* grades.
She said: “I’m very happy and proud but very surprised too.”
She will study A level geography, biology, English literature and chemistry at the Kendrick School in Reading.
Headteacher Rick Holroyd said: “This is an outstanding set of results, which set a new benchmark for our school.
“Never before at Langtree have students achieved so well and these wonderful outcomes exceed the aspirational targets we had set ourselves last year as a school.
“I would like to congratulate the students for their remarkable achievements as well as thanking the staff for their immense efforts and hard work to secure such impressive results. I would also like to thank all our hugely supportive parents for all the time and encouragement they have given over the last five years to support their children and the school.
“With this kind of community spirit, we have shown at Langtree that, together, we can achieve great things.”
Highdown School in Caversham also achieved its best-ever results with 73 per cent of pupils gaining five or more A* to C grades, compared with 64 per cent last year.
Twenty-three per cent of pupils achieved 10 or more A* to B grades and 22 per cent gained A* or A grades.
Among the high achievers was Catherine Boddy, 16, from Caversham Heights, who was awarded seven A*s and four A grades.
She will study for A-levels in maths and the sciences at Kendrick School.
She said: “I’m very happy as I put a lot of work in. I want to work in the chemistry field but I’m not sure exactly what yet.”
Abigail Gilbert, 16, from Emmer Green, gained five A*s and six A grades.
She said: “I had no idea I would get these grades and I was really dreading seeing my results. Now I’m over the moon.”
Ella Jones, 16, from Caversham, achieved two A*s and 10 A grades.
She will study art, history, English and maths in Highdown’s sixth form.
Headteacher Rachel Cave said: “We are absolutely delighted. The pupils have worked so hard. An extra 25 pupils have gained the five or more A* to C grades, including maths and English, which will enable them to progress to our sixth form and from there on to university. This is the real joy on results day — students’ achievement and not numbers.”
At Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common 65 per cent of pupils achieved five or more A* to C grades, including maths and English, one per cent down on last year.
Seventy-two per cent of pupils achieved five or more A* to C grades, down five per cent.
About a quarter of all grades were A* or A grades.
The top performer was Sophie Walker, 16, from Emmer Green, who achieved 14 A*s or A grades and a distinction.
She said: “Like many people, I was a bit worried, particularly about grade boundaries and how they would affect me overall, but I’m really pleased and surprised.”
She will study A-level history, English literature and English language, biology and chemistry at The Henley College.
Oliver Breen, 16, of Upton Close, Henley, achieved eight A*s and four A grades. He passed his Spanish GCSE in year 9 and biology in year 10.
He said: “I was nervous beforehand but I’m really happy now. I wanted eight A*s because that is what I will need for university so I’m delighted.”
He will study for A-levels in biology, chemistry, maths and Spanish at The Henley College and hopes to become a surgeon.
Headteacher Daniel Sadler said: “These results demonstrate that great teaching and hard work always deliver strong results.
“I am delighted that so many students have gained the qualifications they need to move on to their next steps with confidence. I started with this group at Chiltern Edge five years ago and they have been a credit to themselves and the school. I wish them the best of luck.”
Results were also slightly down on last year at Icknield Community College in Watlington.
Fifty-four per cent of pupils achieved five passes at A* to C, including English and maths, compared with 55 per cent last year.
However, results in the core subjects were good, with 85 per cent of those taking English achieving an A* to C grade.
Headteacher Mat Hunter said: “We are particularly pleased with our English results, which put us among the highest-performing state schools both in Oxfordshire and nationally.
“This is not only because our A* to C has risen dramatically but also because 93 per cent of our students made the progress expected of them and 53 per cent have exceeded expectations.”
The best performer was Rebecca Parfett, who achieved nine A*s in English language, English literature, geography, history, art and design, maths, biology, chemistry and physics.
Rebecca, 16, from West Wycombe, will be going to Wycombe High School next month to study biology, chemistry, maths and classical civilisation at A-level and hopes to become a doctor.
She said: “I’m so excited, I really want to go to medical school and now that might just be possible.”
Issy Cockrem, 16, of Pyrton Lane, Watlington, achieved an A* in drama, As in English language, English literature, history, music, maths and French and a B grade in science.
She will be going to The Henley College to study French, drama, English language and sociology. Issy said: “I’m very happy. I didn’t sleep at all last night but I can go out and celebrate now. I’m looking forward to going to college next year.”
At the Piggott School in Wargrave, 77 per cent of the 191 students achieved five A* to C grades, including maths and English, three per cent less than last year.
However, 86 per cent achieved five or more A* to C grades in any subject, up four per cent on 2013, while 17 pupils achieved at least 10 A*s or A grades.
Headteacher Hilary Winter said: “These results are a reflection of the hard work, determination and commitment of all our staff, students and their parents.
“I am delighted that so many of our students are returning to continue their education in our sixth form and I also extend a warm welcome to the external candidates who have secured a place here.”
In Oxfordshire as a whole, there were mixed results from schools and academies.
Melinda Tilley, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for children, education and families, said: “There have been some fundamental changes to GCSE exams this year, as well as changes to the information schools have been asked to submit to assess their performance. This is very much a new regime which inevitably makes it difficult to make meaningful comparisons with results from previous years.
“Though we won’t have the full picture for Oxfordshire until the verified results are published in the autumn, it’s fair to assume that these factors will have had a significant impact on results here as well as elsewhere in the country.”