GCSE Results Day 2017: Pupils in west Suffolk achieve ‘something special’ despite GCSE upheaval
PUBLISHED: 07:53 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:51 24 August 2017
Follow our live coverage today as hundreds of students receive their long-awaited GCSE results, amid concerns over the new number-based grading scale being introduced for the first time in a generation.
We will provide updated school-by-school results from 18 schools in west Suffolk, as well as analysis from headteachers and education chiefs.
New GCSE grades will be awarded for the first time, with just a small proportion of entries expected to score the highest result. School leaders across England have warn that GCSE reforms are already causing teenagers more stress and anxiety, and this is likely to increase as more subjects switch to the new system.
Under the biggest shake-up of exams in England for a generation, traditional A* to G grades are being gradually replaced with a 9 to 1 system, with 9 the highest mark. English and maths – key GCSEs for all teenagers – are the first to move over, with other subjects following until 2020.
The grading switch is part of wider reforms designed to make GCSEs more rigorous and challenging. A grade 7 is broadly equivalent to an A under the old system, while a 4 is broadly equivalent to a C. The new headline figure is the percentage of students achieving a grade 4 in English and maths.
Bury St Edmunds County Upper School
Out of the 249 pupils in Year 11 at County Upper School, 66% achieved a minimum of grade 4 in English and maths.
Headteacher Vicky Neale said: “We are delighted that 80% of our students have achieved the new standard in English and 71% in maths.
“We are equally delighted that 24% of students have achieved the top grades equivalent to A*/A and that right across the ability range students have done themselves proud.
“We decided to continue to offer a rigorous curriculum and this is reflected in the fact that 40% of pupils achieved the English Baccalaureate.
“These excellent results, following last week’s superb A level performance, crown another hugely successful year for County in and out of the classroom.
“Once again, I thank the staff who do such an excellent job and congratulate all the students – they certainly deserve to celebrate their achievements today.”
Castle Manor Academy
Students are celebrating their highest ever GCSE results with 62% of 114 students reaching the new threshold of a level 4 in maths and English.
Headteacher Vanessa Whitcombe paid tribute to students, staff and parents and said the results were incredibly strong in a year when schools have had to deal with many changes in the exams.
She added: “I am absolutely thrilled with the results at Castle Manor Academy.
“They are testament of a huge amount of hard work by the students whose dedication and commitment has earned them the results they deserve.
“I am extremely proud of all of them and they will have very bright futures. Such a rapid increase in results is testament also to the hard work and support from staff and parents and I want to take the opportunity to thank them.
“Castle Manor Academy has seen many changes over the past two years, aimed at improving standards in the school.
“These results are an indicator that our strategies are having a strong and measurable impact. We are absolutely committed to continue this journey of improvement in the coming years.”
52% of pupils at IES Breckland achieved the minimum of grade 4 in English and maths.
Alison Tilbrook, headteacher, said: “At IES Breckland we are proud of the hard work and effort of students and staff to secure the schools best ever GCSE results.”
Ixworth Free School
Out of 35 GCSE students in total, 71% of students achieved at least a grade 4 in English and maths.
Niki King, Headteacher at Ixworth Free School, said: “I am very proud of the progress that students have made since the school opened in 2014. It is excellent to see a number of top grades of 8 and 9 have been achieved with the newly reformed GCSEs. We wish all our students success for the future as they progress on to further education.”
Top achievers at Ixworth Free School include John Neaverson, who achieved two 9 grades (equivalent to A**), one A* and seven A’s. John, who lives in Ixworth and was Head Boy at the school, has won a place at Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge. He said: “I am delighted and really excited to be able to go on to study for A levels in politics, history and economics.”
King Edward VI CEVC Upper School
Out of 306 students, 68% of students secured at least a Grade 4 in maths and English. 42 gained five or more of the top grades (7-9), and 18 achieved eight or more of the top 7-9 grades.
Lee Walker, headteacher, said: “I am hugely grateful to our staff, and full of admiration for our students, who have worked enormously hard to secure these excellent grades.
“Our students can now move on to the next stage of their education in a position of great strength. The very high quality of teaching and personal support available here and from our parents, is a key feature of this school. I am delighted to be able to share out students’ successes with them today.”
Mildenhall College Academy
At Mildenhall 55% of the 166 pupils in Year 11 achieved a grade 4 to 9 in English and mathematics and breaking all previous records at the school.
Susan Byles, headteacher at Mildenhall College Academy, said: “I have never known a year group to work so hard in meeting and overcoming new challenges. I am immensely proud of each and every one of our pupils.
“This cohort has beaten all previous records in the number of A*/A grades that have been achieved.
“They were the first year group to join MCA at the start of Year 7 following the closure of the middle schools and they are the first cohort to have taken the new linear GCSEs in maths and English which are undoubtedly the hardest exams that pupils in this age group have ever had to sit.”
Out of the school’s 122 students, 60% achieved at least the benchmark grade 4 in English and maths.
Headteacher Nick Froy described the English results as exceptional with 80% of students achieving a grade 4 and 60% a grade 5 while maths results rose by 17%.
Mr Froy said “We are clearly delighted that the Ofsted judgement in May this year which rated the school as ‘good’ is justified by these results which reflect another year of improvement.
“Students at Newmarket Academy achieve excellent results in the key areas - something for which Newmarket can be proud.”
Ormiston Sudbury Academy
Of the 105 students at Ormiston Sudbury Academy, 53% achieved at least a Grade 4 in maths and English. An impressive 12% of students secured the top grades including Rebecca Piggott with a grade 8 in both maths and English, four A*s and 2 As.
Caroline Wilson, principal, said: “I am delighted with this year’s results and especially with how staff and students have prepared for these new GCSEs.
“We cannot compare outcomes with previous years but we can compare attitude and I have been impressed how our students across a range of abilities have tackled both the preparation and commitment to the new specifications.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff, students and parents for their contributions to this year’s results. Across both A-levels and GCSEs, we have seen improvements of which I am very proud.”
Nick Hudson, interim chief executive of Ormiston Academies Trust, said: “It is our absolute priority to ensure that every student fulfils their potential, no matter what their background and we are delighted to see these results from Ormiston Sudbury Academy.
“Students, staff and parents deserve great credit for these results which reflect their commitment and determination to suceed and we look forward to building on these achievements year after year.”
Samuel Ward Academy
At Samuel Ward 53% of 196 pupils achieved GCSEs in English and maths at grade 4 or above.
Headteacher Kath Just paid tribute to the hard work of students, staff and parents.
She said: “We are proud of all our students and the results they have achieved this year, at a time when changes have put added pressure on these young people.
“I am particularly pleased that several students gained grade 9s, which are only awarded to the top 3% of students in the country.
“The governors and I would like to thank everyone concerned for their continued support and hard work.”
Notable individual achievements included Olivia Farrington of Clare - who gained two 9s, an 8, 5 A*s, 4As and a B, Jess Sharman of Wickhambrook - who gained a 9, an 8, a 6, 5A*s, 3As and 3Bs, and Tillie Randall of Haverhill who achieved a 9, 2 7s, 5A*s, 3As and 2Bs.
Tim Coulson, chief executive of the Samuel Ward Academy Trust, said: “I would like to congratulate all staff and pupils for their work in achieving these results.
“We look forward to seeing the young people move on to great things.”
Out of 19 students in Year 11, 79% gained at least five GCSEs including a grade 4 in English and Maths.
Former Head Boy, Sam Newton, achieved 9 A*s and 1A, including an A* in German, which he only took up at the start of Year 11.
Twins Christopher and James Wilkinson achieved 13 As and A*s between them and Tessa Morrey achieved 9 A to B grades.
Frank Thompson, headteacher, said, “We are so pleased for the students who have worked consistently hard to achieve their grades.
“At Stoke College we are proudly non-selective and the close working relationships with staff allow pupils to make strong progress.
“Our small class sizes benefit pupils of all abilities and we are particularly pleased to see how pupils at each end of the academic spectrum have exceeded national expectations.
“With the recent investment in the school we look forward to many generations of students succeeding at Stoke, not just at GCSE but also at A-level, as we open our new sixth form in September.”
St Benedict’s Catholic School
Of the 145 students 74% gained a grade 4 or higher in both English and maths. John D’Mello, assistant headteacher, said they were very pleased they had upheld the high bar set last year. The results come after the school expanded on to two sites to accommodate the move to secondary and they saw a change of headteacher.
Stour Valley Community School
Of the 115 students at Stour Valley Community School, 68% achieved a grade 4 or above in English and maths.
Headteacher Christine Inchley said: “Once again our Year 11 students have done us proud, achieving the best set of results since the school opened in 2011. Notable achievements include Freya Lambert, Naomi Lawson and Edith Wild, who achieved a grand total of four Grade 9s, three Grade 8s, seventeen Grade A*s and five Grade As between them.
“We are delighted that all of our students have received recognition for all of their hard work under the very challenging circumstances surrounding the new grading system, and know that they are well prepared and qualified for exciting futures ahead.”
Stowmarket High School
Out of 154 students 60% achieved at least a grade 4 in maths and English. Eight students achieved a grade 9 in maths, which is higher than the old A*. Headteacher Dave Lee-Allan said: “I know I speak for all staff and governors when I say we are so proud of what our students have achieved this year, particularly in the first year of these much tougher examinations.
“Despite the bar being higher, these results show a significant improvement. Students and staff have faced enormous challenges during a time of massive change, and they have proved that with a ‘can-do’ attitude and high aspirations, that they can write a new story of success.
“With the support of our parent body, Stowmarket students have achieved something special.
“It is natural to celebrate the high flyers, but I want to celebrate the significant numbers of students who achieved grades they thought were beyond them at the start of the year.”
Notable students were John Billingham, who achieved six A-A*’s including a 9 in mathematics, Kristen Bell who achieved the same but also one distinction grade. Isabel Garcia Pena who achieved three A*, two A’s, a grade 8 in mathematics and a grade B.
Stowupland High School
Of the 166 GCSE students, 64% achieved a Grade 4 or above in both English and maths.
Headteacher Karen Grimes said: “Amidst national speculation over new specifications, Stowupland students are to be congratulated and should be justly proud of their results.
We are also delighted to see the top grades of 7, 8 and 9 being awarded in English, English literature and Maths. Our students have clearly risen to the challenge of terminal examinations and more rigorous content.”
Thomas Gainsborough School
A total of 62% of students achieved at least a grade 4 in English and maths with 198 students sitting examinations in Year 11 this summer.
Reflecting on the results, headteacher Wayne Lloyd said: “We are very pleased with these results.
“I would like to congratulate the students on their excellent performance. It is a fitting reward for their hard work and the dedication and the support that they have received from their teachers.
“We look forward to welcoming over 120 of them back into our sixth form in September.
“We expect high standards at TGS and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure the highest possible outcomes for all our students into the future.”
Thurston Community College
Out of 260 students 63% achieved at least a grade 4 (the old C grade) in English and maths.
Principal Helen Wilson said: “We are delighted that so many of our students have attained great results, which will enable them to progress to their next stage. In a year of great educational turbulence, I am particularly proud of their achievements and of the hard work of our staff whose diligence has enabled this success.”
West Suffolk College
Out of 85 pupils who sat GCSEs, 92% achieved at grades 9-4 overall.
Julian Johnson-Munday, headmaster, said: “We are very pleased indeed with these excellent results. Yet again, the value added across the range of abilities was particularly impressive and our top pupils gained suites of A* and A grades.”
Focus School – Stoke-by-Nayland