IT was all change for GCSE pupils this year.
A shake-up of the qualifications has seen a new grading system introduced from 9 down to 1 – replacing the previous A* to U grades.
In comparison, a 9 is higher than the previous A*; 8 is between an A* and A; 7 equal to an A; 6 equivalent to a high B; 5 is between a B and C; 4 equal to a grade C; 3 is between a D and E; 2 between an E and F; 1 a G; while U refers to an ungraded paper.
Most exams are now at the end of a two-year course, rather than on completion of modules, and there are more essay -style questions.
Pupils also have to do at least two science GCSEs, and coursework and assessment are being dropped from most subjects, apart from practical ones such as art and drama.
The Department for Education say the new GCSEs are “more challenging and demanding” and aimed to improve confidence in the qualifications.
But despite the challenging conditions, Stratford Girls’ Grammar School is celebrating the accomplishments of its GCSE students.
77 per cent achieved grades between 9 and 7 across all of their GCSEs, with 30 per cent at grade 9 and a further 26 per cent at grade 8.
Headteacher Jacqui Cornell said she was delighted the school’s ‘trend of excellent achievement’ continued despite national predictions.
She added: “Once again, our Year 11 students and our staff have demonstrated great character in how they have adapted to these changes and uncertainties brought about by the newest tranche of GCSE courses.
“Our curriculum remains broad and balanced in the face of government changes, enabling our students to excel across all of the courses. “Today’s results have placed our students in the best possible position to begin the next phase of their journey to their chosen long-term destination – university, higher apprenticeship or the world of work.
“We are delighted that many of them are choosing to continue on into our Shottery Sixth Form and I am very much looking forward to celebrating their ongoing successes with them.”
‘Outstanding’ results from Kineton High School pupils have seen a ‘dramatic’ improvement on last year.
The number of grades 7 to 9 achieved in maths and English doubled this year and an increased percentage of pupils gained a good pass.
Those who achieved notable results include Miles Leonard, Ellie Moll and Leo Aston.
A school spokesperson said: “We are very proud of all our students and the progress they have made at Kineton and it has been a real pleasure watching them grow as young people and today be with them as they received the fruits of their efforts.
“We are looking forward to welcoming significantly more students back into our sixth form and would like to wish all those students moving on to other opportunities the very best.”
Pupils at Alcester Grammar School (AGS) have also been praised for ‘outstanding’ GCSE results.
61 per cent of entries were graded at least 7 and 42 per cent were graded at least 8.
And an average of at least a 7 in ten GCSE subjects was achieved by over half of pupils, despite the new tougher exams across most subjects, with results in core subjects particularly strong.
Individual successes, included four students with a clean sweep of ten grade nines, with others following closely behind.
Headteacher Clive Sentance said: “We’re absolutely delighted that broadening our intake has given more young people the opportunity to enjoy the full breadth of all that AGS has to offer. These excellent GCSE results are a solid foundation for students to build on, and we are proud of all their achievements in and out of the classroom over their time at AGS so far. I‘d like to thank the teachers and support staff too. It’s their consistent skill, dedication and commitment that are so crucial to maintaining the climate that enables our students to flourish.”
He added most GCSE pupils would continue into the school’s sixth form alongside achievers from local feeder schools.
Stratford School pupils have been praised for ‘another set of strong results’ particularly in light of the changes to the grading system.
64 per cent of students achieved five standard passes including English and maths, and some 50 pupils achieved the highest possible grade in at least one of their qualifications.
Among the highest achievers are Millie Reynolds, Dania Al-Zubaidy, Ella Kirby, Olivia Stickney, Hong Ren, Archie Musk, William Millard and Toni Kenewell.
And those who made significant progress include Lissy Appleyard, Lauren Floyd-Smith, Annabelle Greenway, Izzie Luckman, Tom Seaton, Brett Whatley, Hong Ren and Hamish Huxley-Edwards.
Headteacher Neil Wallace said: “We’re really pleased with another strong set of results at Stratford upon Avon School.
“Against a backdrop of changes nationally with numbered qualifications for the first time in many subjects, we’re delighted to see such good performances across the board including over half of our disadvantaged students.
“As a comprehensive school it is important that students make good progress from their respective starting points, regardless of their ability on intake and it is lovely to see so many students achieving grades to be proud of.
“We would like to commend the hard work put in by students and staff that have made these results possible.
“We wish every one of our students the very best for the future and look forward to welcoming many of them back into the sixth form.”
Pupils at King Edward VI School are also on course for a bright future after achieving an 100 per cent pass rate with three quarters of papers receiving the top 9 to 7 grades.
Sixteen students achieved five or more grade 9s. Among them were Abhimanyu Gowda who obtained eleven, Shavak Matalia, Cameron Mitchell and Rishi Tripathi who obtained eight and Felix Crabtree, Luke Davies, Joseph Lillington and Dillon Patel who received seven.
Headteacher Bennet Carr said: “These are very pleasing results from a fine year group.
“They, of course, deserve great credit for maintaining such high levels of achievement in these more substantial and challenging GCSE courses.
“However they have also been hugely committed to School life, achieving much in the fields of sport, music, drama and community activities. We share in their delight and look forward to following their continued progress alongside those who join us in the Sixth Form.”
And Studley High School pupils successfully rose to the challenge of the tougher GCSE examinations introduced this year.
A number of pupils achieved multiple grade 9s including Ellie Harley, Catalina Chavez, Ryan Allington, Skyla Dartnall, Matt Yapp, Jack Foreman and Abdul Muhaymun.
Not to mention Larasati Neville who is among 200 pupils across the country achieving a clean sweep of ten grade 9s across all of her subjects.
Strong results were achieved across all subject areas which the school said demonstrated a strong work ethic of pupils and quality of teaching. Headteacher Lee Gray said: “I am delighted to offer my congratulations to a wonderful cohort of pupils who have risen to the challenge of the reformed GCSEs and achieved an excellent set of results.
“This group of pupils have enjoyed their time at Studley and have immersed themselves into school life and to see their efforts rewarded with such a great set of results is wonderful.
“We wish them all every success in the future as they move on to their chosen destinations.”
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) expects the county’s collective results to once again be above the national average.
WCC education spokesperson Colin Hayfield said: “Congratulations to everyone collecting their results today. This is a really important time for pupils who will be full of nervous excitement as they open up their exam result envelopes.
“It will be some time before we know the full validated results for Warwickshire but we are optimistic that the vast majority of Warwickshire pupils will have reached their target grades.
“I wish everyone the best of luck for the future whether that will be in continued full-time education, an apprenticeship or training.”
Anyone who failed to get the grades they hoped for can contact Prospects Independent Careers Services for free advice.
Call 01926 461600 to find out more.
Call 0800 100 900 to speak to the National Careers Service about education, training and work.