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Cumbrian schools celebrate record-breaking GCSE success

Record-breaking results are being celebrated in Cumbrian schools today, bucking predictions that national GCSE success rates could dip as the exams system is overhauled in the latest bid to improve standards.

Cameron Green GCSE photo
Cameron Green, of Newman School

Headteacher John McAuley has seen an improvement in Newman School’s pass rate in the benchmark of the proportion of pupils gaining five or more grades A*-C in a range of subjects including English and maths.

A total of 63 per cent of the 16 year olds picking up results at the Carlisle school today have made that grade.

Mr McAuley said: “We are thrilled with our students’ success at GCSE this year. There are some outstanding individual performances, with a number of our year 11s achieving high grades in all subjects.

“Within the group 63 per cent of the students achieved five or more high grade GCSE passes – A* to C grades - including English and maths.

“GCSE results at Newman show improvement year on year; this reflects our drive for further progress. We are immensely proud of their hard work and superb achievements.”

Newman’s Jess Atkinson, 16, of Warwick Road, is celebrating after achieving five As, six Bs and one C.

She said: “I am so surprised, they are so much better than I expected. I was panicking this morning that I would not get more than a C.”

Jess now plans to go to sixth form to do A levels in Biology, English Literature, Maths and Psychology. A fan of police dramas, she wants to be a criminal psychologist.

Meanwhile, Cameron Green remains relaxed about his success. He got 10 A* to C grades.

He said: “I’m pleased. I didn’t think I would do so well in maths but I got a double B.

“I never let the exam stress get to me. The more you stress about things like this the worse it will be. My parents have been supportive and have let me do it my way.”

John Marshall, deputy head at Richard Rose Morton Academy, said: “Whilst we are very pleased for those students who have received good grades today, we know just how far we still need to go and we will be working relentlessly to get there.”

Elsewhere, Ullswater Community College in Penrith and West Lakes Academy in Egremont are among those celebrating impressive results across the county as more than 5,600 year 11 pupils pick up results from 37 schools and academies. Nigel Pattinson, head of the Penrith comprehensive, is welcoming 238 pupils into school to receive their results.

He said: “We were hopeful that we’d blow our results record out of the water this year and we have done. We’ve seen an increase of 18 percentage points in the pass rate figure that people know about, the proportion of students who get at least five A*-C grades including English and maths.

“This year we have 66 per cent, two thirds, of students who have achieved that. Last year the figure was 48 per cent and our previous best had been 52 per cent.

“Meanwhile the percentage of students leaving with five or more A*-C grades is 95 per cent.”

West Lakes Academy principal Vanessa Ray is delighted for her cohort of 150 pupils. Nearly 60 per cent of them have got five or more Cs including in English and maths.

She said: “The figure was 57 per cent last year and in 2008 when the academy opened the figure was just 27 per cent. The figures show we’re making steady progress.

“We’ve got some remarkable successes when you look beyond that. For instance, 99 per cent of our students have got five good GCSE grades A*-C and 77 per cent of our students have gained at least one A* or A grade. Among the personal success stories there is one student who has achieved 11A*s.

“It is the icing on the cake for us. We’ve had a very successful year and the results prove that our students can achieve in a wide range of areas.”

Pupils and staff at Whitehaven School were celebrating after the overall measure of five good grades (A*-C) went up again this year to 90 per cent, six per cent more than previously.

Head Lynette Norris said: “The students have again worked exceptionally hard this year and supported by our staff have produced some fantastic results – in some areas the best the school has ever had.”

Ben Naylor, from Whitehaven, gained five A*, five A, two B and a Distinction. He was said he was happy with the results and got better than he expected. He will be going on to study Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics at A Level.

Laoise Manger, also of Whitehaven, gained five A*, six A, and a Distinction.

She said: “I am really pleased with the results because I worked really hard.”

She will study Biology, Chemistry, Maths and History at A-level.

Have your say

Jonah, there are more pupils who must be missing from the exam entries if shools are getting more than 90 percent A to C passes. It would be the equivalent of claiming that suddenly all men took a certain shoe size. Statistically, if everone passes then either the pass mark is too low or the exam is too simple. If this is not the case then why have an exam and who gets the D, E and F grades? I don't think Mr Gove ever expected all pupils to pass or else why does he moan about the quality of English education?

Posted by C Forte on 29 August 2013 at 13:19

Sorry Mrs W, I did sit 'O' levels in 1970 I as I said in my last comment. I took seven 'O' levels and failed five! I also have taken GCSE, BTEC and have a degree and qualifications in training and education.

I worked in schools for fifteen years or so (after graduating as a mature student), so have experienced education as both a student and an educator!

There are some subjects where coursework is a fairer way of assessing a pupil than an single exam. Perhaps if I had done coursework for 'O' level, I might have passed more exams: I was ill for five weeks before I took 'O' levels and there was no offer of "consideration" for the illness.

I don't think Art, Domestic Science (now "Food Technology"), Sewing (now "Textiles") or Woodwork (now "Resistant Materials") can be judged solely by a written exam at the end of the course.

Unfortunately, C Forte may not appreciate that there are sometimes good reasons why a pupil can't read and write. For example: a friend has Dyslexia and had to have a "reader" when taking some of her exams. She is now studying in University - but still has problems reading and writing.

OFSTED is a strange beast. One year, the teachers had to be "extremely entertaining" (or similar phrase) to achieve "outstanding" status for an observed lesson! Another year they were more worried about the CCTV system covering all the access points to the school!

Posted by jonah on 28 August 2013 at 20:53

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