Mixed bag of GCSE results

Hundreds of pupils have collected their GCSE results, with most schools reporting a drop in pass rates at what are seen as tougher exams this year.

The Government has introduced a number of significant changes to GCSEs, including a move to end-of-course exams rather than focusing on course work and exams throughout the course.

Head teacher at Scalby School, David Read said the changes meant it wasn’t possible to compare this year’s pass rate with previous years. He said: “It’s apples and pears! The pupils are going back to the rigours of a decade ago.”

Other changes include that speaking and listening assessments no longer count towards a student’s overall GCSE English grade, and that only a pupil’s first attempt at a GCSE counts in the school’s league tables.

However there were still a great number of success stories, including at St Augustine’s Catholic School where pupil Molly O’Hanlon achieved 13 A*s.

The school, which has received a new head teacher, governing body and senior leadership team in the last year, is the only school which states that the changes to GCSEs have actually helped its pass rate.

The school reported an increase on last year, with 63 per cent of pupils achieving grades A* to C, including English and maths, compared to 52 per cent last year.

In a statement, the chair of governors Dr Dianne Swiers said: “St. Augustine’s has always focused on a curriculum that offers academic rigour and the Government’s recent decision to re-assess equivalent qualifications has supported our philosophy.

Head teacher Mark Taylor said he was grateful for the support of the families of pupils and staff. He said: “I look forward to working with the school to develop out teaching and learning further.”

At Graham School the number of pupils passing 5 A* to Cs including English and maths dropped from 47 per cent last year to 40 per cent this year.

The school was judged to be “inadequate” following an inspection by Government inspectors last December and was therefore placed in “special measures”, however it has recently been revisited by inspectors and found to be showing signs of improvement.

Head teacher Helen McEvoy sent her congratulations and best wishes to all students as they moved onto the next phase of life and education, and in particular praised students Joanna Wormald, who gained 10A*s and 3As, and Rebekah Cremer who gained 7A*s 3As and 3Bs. “These accomplishments are particularly noteworthy,” said Mrs McEvoy.

At Scalby School the GCSE pass rate, including English and maths, dropped from 65 per cent to 58 per cent, but staff said there were 21 pupils who were appealing a grade D in English, and that the remarking of those papers could bump up the pass rate.

Scalby success stories include Rachel Craft, who gained 14 A*s as well as Mohamed Lazim and Hannah Livesey who received 13 and 12 A*s respectively.

Deputy head teacher Michael McCluskie said: “We did expect there was going to be a dip because all schools are facing new challenges.”

At George Pindar School head teacher John Senior refused to state the number of pupils who had gained 5 A* to Cs, including English and maths, because he said there were a record number of pupils appealing their grades this year and that the remarking of papers was likely to bump up the school’s pass rate.

He said: “In the past, many of these have resulted in students receiving improved marks and until this process has concluded we will not be issuing our full results as, to be fair to our students, we would like them to be accurate.”

At Scarborough College the pass rate including English and Maths was 79 per cent. Head teacher Isobel Nixon said: “We are a non-selective school, so these results show that children and all abilities and backgrounds can achieve at the highest levels.”

She added: “Our international ethos and rigorous academic programme bring out the best in all our students regardless of ability or background. I am delighted that, once again, they have achieved their potential in subjects which have lasting value for the future.”

At Filey School, 45 per cent of students gained five or more A* – Cs, including in English and maths. Head teacher Dr Sue Morgan said: “It is very important to celebrate the successes of the many students who have worked hard and done well whilst continuing to clarify the precise nature of changing exam board criteria and using that to inform future planning.”