Wednesday, 10 August 2022

GCSE students smash pass records

SCHOOLS in Henley, South Oxfordshire and Berkshire bucked the national trend with record-breaking GCSE grades.

SCHOOLS in Henley, South Oxfordshire and Berkshire bucked the national trend with record-breaking GCSE grades.

As thousands of 16-year-olds collected their results on Thursday last week, it emerged that the proportion of entries graded at A* to C across the UK had fallen by 2.1 percentage points to their lowest level since 2008.

However, in this area many schools recorded their best ever results and many students celebrated by attending Reading Festival over the weekend or going out for a meal with their family.

There were scenes of joy at Gillotts School in Henley, where a record 84 per cent of students achieved the benchmark of five or more passes at A* to C grade, including English and maths.

This was a 10 per cent rise on last year and beat the previous record of 82 per cent set in 2014.

Sixteen per cent achieved eight or more passes at A* or A grade, a six per cent rise on last year, and 30 per cent gained at least five straight As.

The percentage of students achieving grade C and above in English and maths only was 87 per cent.

Thirty-two per cent gained an A* or A grade in English language, a 12 per cent rise on last year, and 30 per cent in maths, an eight per cent rise.

More than 45 per cent of grades in the three sciences were A* or A.

The top performers included Rachel Hyde, from Bix, with nine A*s and one A grade, and Olivia Vail, of Cromwell Road, Henley, with eight A*s and two A grades.

Tom Priestley, of Gainsborough Road, Henley achieved six A*s and four A grades.

He said: “I was just overwhelmed, I’m still in shock.”

Katie Tillyer, of Berkshire Road, Henley, attained four A*s, six A grades and a B, Kathryn Craig, of Reading Road, Henley, achieved six As and four Bs, and Elizabeth Landen, of Farm Road,  Henley, got four A grades and six Bs.

All six 16-year-olds will attend Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow to take their A-levels.

They will be joined by 15-year Lilly Shanagher, of Widmore Lane, Sonning Common, who was awarded three A*s and seven A grades.

She said: “I didn’t know what to expect. I feel very happy and fortunate. My mum cried!”

Ben Porter, 16, of Watcombe Road, Watlington, achieved three A*s, five A grades and two Bs.

“I’m so happy,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long — it has been a long summer.”

Ben will take A-levels in media, English and music at The Henley College.

He will be joined there by Tilly Lock, 16, of Northfield Avenue, Shiplake, who was awarded four A grades, five Bs and a D and will take  A-levels in law, geography and biology.

She said: “I’m really happy — I was ridiculously nervous.”

Her mother Jo Lock said: “I’m just so proud, she worked so hard.” Will Properjohn, 16, from Shiplake Cross, achieved an A*, four A grades, four B, and two Cs and will go to Shiplake College to take his A-levels.

“I was so scared,” he said. “The results were better than I had expected.”

He will be joined at the college by Callum Brady, 16, of Greys Road, Henley, who scored five A grades, four Bs and one C.

Kit Alcock, 16, from Whitchurch, achieved two A*s, five A grades, two Bs and one C.

“I’m pretty happy,” he said. “My targets were all As but it worked out overall because I got a couple of A*s and some Bs.”

His father Chris said: “Kit is our youngest son and it’s just a relief to get it over with and know he has done well. Kids shouldn’t be defined by exam grades.”

Rosie Kemp, 16, of Berkshire Road, Henley, was awarded one A*, six A grades and two Bs and Toby Print, 16, of St Mark’s Road, Henley, attained two A grades, six Bs and two Cs.

Headteacher Catharine Darnton said: “These results will confirm us as one of the consistently best-performing schools in Oxfordshire.

“All the percentages say that overall these are our best results ever. This is a consequence of the commitment and hard work of the students and staff.

“I am very proud of all that the students have achieved and would also like to recognise the support that they have received from their families. These results come about through successful collaboration between students, teachers and parents.

“They are a really delightful year group who have really pulled together and supported each other.

“It’s not a flash in the pan and I’m proud of them for working so hard.”

At the Piggott School in Wargrave, the proportion of students achieving five A* to C grades, including English and maths, was 78 per cent, a school record. Last year’s figure was 75 per cent.

Ninety-one per cent of students passed maths while the pass rate for English was 82 per cent.

Among the highest achievers were Laurence Jackman, who achieved 11 A*s, and Olivia Munns, who attained 10 A*s.

Olivia, 16, from Earley, said: “I’m so relieved. I didn’t expect this and there were a few tears! My mum is very happy and cried a bit as well.”

She will be staying at the school to study A-levels in geography, physics and  chemistry.

Tom Orpwood, 16, attained eight A*s and three A grades and will take A-levels in biology, chemistry and German in the sixth form.

He said: “It feels mad. I didn’t expect these results and I was shocked when I saw them. I’m going to Reading Festival at the weekend, which will be a good way to celebrate.”

Eleanor Eavery, 16, of Park View Drive North, Charvil, achieved five A*s and seven A grades and will stay on to study maths, chemistry, biology and computer science at A-level.

Headteacher Derren Gray said: “The students and staff have all worked exceptionally hard to achieve our best ever results.

“There are a lot of smiling faces and the huge majority will be back with us for sixth form.

“I thank all the teaching and support staff for their continued hard work, dedication and professionalism and I congratulate all the students on their richly deserved success.”

Records were also broken at Icknield Community College in Watlington, where 70 per cent of students achieved five or more A* to C grades, including English and maths, up from 65 per cent last year.

Seventy-four per cent of pupils achieved five or more A* to C gradess in any subject, up from 70 per cent last year.

Eighty-six per cent of passes in English were at A* to C grade, down from 91 per cent last year, while the proportion for maths was 72 per cent, down from 78 per cent a year.

One of the highest achievers was Emily White, 16, of Shirburn Street, Watlington, who attained four A*s, six A grades and a B.

She will be going to Wallingford School to study for A-levels in chemistry, geography and physics.

Headteacher Mat Hunter said: “It is great to break the 70 per cent threshold for the first time in the school’s history, having broken the 60 per cent mark last year.

“I would like to congratulate all our students who have achieved success and thank the staff and parents who supported them to do so.”

The pass rate at Highdown School and Sixth Form Centre in Emmer Green was also a record with 75 per cent of students achieving five or more A* to C grades, including English and maths.

This compared with last year’s figure of 67 per cent and beat the previous record of 73 per cent, set in 2014.

Performances in English and maths were especially strong, with 87.3 per cent of students achieving A* to C in the former and 83.5 per cent in the latter.

Almost 57 per cent of students achieved at least one A* or A grade while 19.2 per cent achieved eight or more at the top end.

High achievers included Jasmine Bahra, who achieved an A* with distinction in further maths plus 10 A*s and an A grade.

The 16-year-old, of Kelmscott Close, Caversham, will be going on to sixth form at the Kendrick School in Reading.

She said: “I’m really happy as I was expecting worse. My mum started crying when  I told her the good news.” Puneet Garcha, 16, of Cwmcarn, Emmer Green, will join Jasmine at Kendrick after attaining nine A*s and three A grades.

She said: “I’m glad Jasmin and I will be going to sixth form together.”

The girls are both considering studying medicine at university.

Marine Garbriadze, 16, of Chiltern Road, Caversham, achieved eight A*s and three A grades.

She said: “I feel great, especially about music as I was just guessing the answers for most of the exam! I was convinced I was going to fail that one, so it’s a great result.

“I don’t have much planned to celebrate but I’ll probably do something with my friends.”

Other high achievers included Frankie Taylor, who attained 10 A*s and two A grades, Georgina Gower (nine A*s and three A grades), Aimy Varghese (eight A*s and three A grades) and Elika Najafi (seven A*s and five A grades). Headteacher Rachel Cave said: “We are very proud of these results and the strong performance at the top end, which for a full intake comprehensive school is a truly outstanding achievement.

“We believe every grade matters and focus on helping every student to improve, whether it’s pushing them from a predicted C to a B or even a predicted E to a D. That approach has enabled our year-on-year progress.”

At Langtree School in Woodcote, 75 per cent of pupils attained five A* to C grades, including English and maths.

This was an increase on last year’s figure of 69 per cent but just under the school’s record of 76 per cent, set in 2014.

Seventy-seven per cent of students passed the Goverment’s new “basics” measure of A* to C grade in both English and maths.

Thirty-five per cent of all grades were A* or A, which was 10 per cent higher than last year.

The highest achiever was Flo Turtle, 16, from Whitchurch, who attained 11 A*s and one A grade.

She intends to sit her  A-levels at the Downs School in Compton, then study medicine at university.

“I’m really, really happy,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to get such amazing results at all.

“I couldn’t take it in when I opened the envelope — my mouth dropped.”

Her friend Abi Inskip’s grades included two A*s and five A grades and she will be going on to study for A-levels at The Henley College.

The 16-year-old, from Nettlebed, said: “I’m over the moon as it’s way better than I was expecting.

“I’m going to miss Langtree but I’m looking forward to new challenges and doing something different.”

Other high scorers were Alex Smith (10 A*s and two A grades) and Kit Leyland (nine A*s and three A grades).

Headteacher Rick Holroyd said: “This was a lovely cohort of students to work with. The vast majority applied themselves and worked extremely hard, taking advantage of the countless hours of additional tuition and support that was offered in the run-up to the exams.

“It’s extremely gratifying to think that this class will move on with confidence and some excellent results.”

Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common has not released the percentage of A* to C grades as a new national benchmark for league tables has been introduced this year called Attainment 8 and Progress 8. This is used to measure progress of pupils over eight key subjects.

However, there was an increase in A* and A grades for the most able students.

The top subjects for progress were geography, physics, drama and food technology. There were also strong results in performing arts and health and social care BTECs.

Headteacher Daniel Sadler said: “We are delighted that such a high proportion of students hit their targets and will be heading off to their chosen sixth-form places and apprenticeships in September.”

The best-performing pupil was Corin Miles, from Caversham, who achieved seven A*s and four A grades.

He said: “It’s amazing. I thought at the time of the exams I had done quite well but I didn’t expect this level of well!

“I did a lot of revision, which I started in January after we did our mock exams, and just continued working hard.”

Corin will go to Reading School to study for A-levels in maths, further maths, economics and geography.

He added: “I hope to go on to an Oxbridge university to study economics and then work in the finance industry.”

Grace Johnson, from Emmer Green, achieved seven A*s, three A grades and one B grade.

She said: “I’m pleased, they are really good results.”

She will attend Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow to study for A-levels in biology, psychology, French and geography.

Scott Barnett, from Peppard, was awarded four A*s, four A grades, two Bs and one C.

He said: “The results were about what I was expecting. I’m hoping to go to Reading School but I’m not sure if I got enough points. I’m hoping to study maths, further maths, physics and computing.”

Scott is a member of Henley Junior Triathlon Club and won the Henley Classic junior men’s category as part of the Henley Swim series earlier this year.

Sam Sporle, from Caversham, attained one A*, three A grades, two Bs and four Cs.

He said: “I’m now going to The Henley College to study creative media, which lets me do a combination of my favourite subjects.”

Nationally, the proportion of A* to C grades declined from 69 per cent last year to 66.9 per cent.

This has been blamed on more students being required to resit English and maths. The figures for Oxfordshire are not available as some schools used the new attainment and progress performance measures, while others used the traditional A* to C method.

Melinda Tilley, cabinet member for children, education and families at the county council, said: “Changes to the examination system are being introduced at the national level and we will no doubt be able to put Oxfordshire’s results into context in due course.

“What doesn’t change, however, is the hard work and commitment that our young people routinely show in coming through these important exams and the dedication and professionalism of our teaching staff who do their best to enable children to fulfil their potential.

“The exam period is a stressful time for young people, so it’s also important to remember the role of parents and carers in supporting their children to achieve their goals.”

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