LIVE: Plymouth students pick up their GCSE results
THOUSANDS of students have today been receiving their much-anticipated GCSE results.
Pupils across the city returned to their schools this morning to find out what they had achieved. And parents, teachers and headteachers were feeling just as nervous and excited for the big day.
Nationally there has been a drop in the proportion of GCSE exam entries awarded top grades, for the second year in a row.
But Several city schools were this morning celebrating top class and even record-breaking results.
City College Plymouth achieved a 100 per cent pass rate for English language, history, psychology and sociology.
Adult GCSE students at the college achieved an overall pass rate of a whopping 97 per cent.
Principal Phil Davies said: "I would like to congratulate our GCSE students on achieving such fantastic results.
"Students who study GCSEs at the college do so for a number of reasons; to re-take and gain better grades, to develop their career, and for interest as part of a lifelong learning programme.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the college staff for all their hard work in helping our students achieve this impressive pass rate."
Meanwhile, Marine Academy Plymouth had a record-breaking year, with 98.8 per cent of students gaining five or more GCSEs or equivalent. Eight subjects at the school saw a 100 per cent pass rate.
Nick Ward, principal designate at Marine Academy, said: "It's inspiring to see such year on year improvement in our students' results. They have impressed in many areas.
"I know our students are proud of their achievements and I congratulate them, but I'd also like to acknowledge our staff and our community, for the invaluable support afforded to our students."
There were also record-breaking results at Ivybridge Community College, which was celebrating the best set in its history, and at saltash.net Community School. A total of 77 per cent of students at Ivybridge attained five A*-C grades, up from 66 per cent last year.
"These results are remarkable," said Ivybridge Community College Principal Rob Haring. "They are a true reward for both the hard work of our students and the high-quality teaching."
The very large Year 11 cohort of 235 students at Saltash, which included those children who attended the Trematon Special Educational Needs Area Resource Base, achieved a result of 69 per cent of five A*-C grades in English and Maths. The school’s previous best outcome on the measure had been 58 per cent in 2011.
Headteacher Isobel Bryce said: "Our students and staff worked unbelievably hard over the last twelve months so they thoroughly deserve these very impressive results.
"Gaining at least a C grade in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science is life changing and I am thrilled for the significantly large number of young people who have achieved this.
"However, as headteacher of an inclusive school, I am very proud of all our students, several of whom faced many difficult and challenging personal circumstances whilst studying for their GCSEs; those individuals deserve particular praise and commendation."
Head of Year 11 at saltash.net, Mark Feldwick, added: "Amazing, it goes to show that excellence is a choice. These guys made this happen because they wanted it to. I’m so proud of them."
At St Boniface's Catholic College the number of students gaining five GCSEs including English and maths was 50 per cent - up nine per cent on last year's results.
Meanwhile, Ridgeway School head John Didymus said: "I am so proud of our students and staff; they have worked really hard."
Many city schools bucked the national trend to achieve outstanding results.
Chris Keates, of union NASUWT, said of the national fall in pass rates: "These results show that GCSEs remain rigorous and robust examinations."
Speaking before the results came out Steve Baker, Association of School and College Leaders branch secretary and principal of Lipson Community College, said: "I know this is an anxious time for those students their teachers and their families.
"Results day however remains one of the highlights of the year and all that tension is released once the envelope is opened. It is always a special moment to be able to share with young people and their families. Such days are made for photographers with unrestrained human emotions the order of the day.
"I would like to wish all Plymouth students the very best of luck."
Kieran Earley, chair of the Plymouth Learning Trust and headteacher of Devonport High School for Boys, said: "Whatever the national headlines bring, there is no question that schools and students in Plymouth have worked as hard as ever to ensure successful next steps. Best of luck to all students and schools; I hope everyone gets everything they wished for."
Councillor Nicky Williams, the city's Cabinet member for children and young people, added: "What a fantastic day for thousands of young people collecting their GCSE results.
"Myself and all those at the council wish them luck and we hope young people get the results they are hoping for, enabling them to continue with their education. It's crucial for the ambitions of the city that we encourage all young people to gain the skills and qualifications they need for successful future careers."
Meanwhile, Cornwall Council is congratulating young people on the other side of the Tamar.
Andrew Wallis, the council’s Cabinet member for children and young people, said the achievements were a tribute to the hard work and commitment of both students and schools in Cornwall and praised the support provided by parents and carers.
“I would like to congratulate everyone on their achievements,” he said.
“All our schools are committed to providing the best quality education for their students and today’s results show that, once again, hard work has paid dividends.
“This is a very important time for these young people who will be making key decisions which will affect their future lives."
Nationally, the Department for Education is reporting that there has been a rise in the number of GCSE entries in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects.
The decline in languages has been reversed with the number of entries to language GCSEs now at a 5-year high.
The number of entries to history is at its highest for at least 16 years, while the number of geography entries is at its highest for 9 years.
There is also a record number of entries in biology, chemistry and physics as increasing numbers of pupils enter exams in the separate sciences rather than in core and additional science.
This trend is likely to be linked to the introduction in the autumn of 2010 of a new league table measure, known as the English Baccalaureate, which now rates schools on how many pupils get GCSEs in such subjects, as well as sciences and English and maths.
There has been a national drop in the proportion of GCSE exam entries awarded top grades, for the second year in a row.
The proportion of exam entries graded between an A* and a C was 68.1 per cent, down from 69.4 per cent last year. And the proportion getting an A* or an A fell from 22.4 per cent to 21.3 per cent. The overall pass rate also fell marginally, for the first time.
The results - released by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) - show dramatic increases in numbers of pupils sitting the exams early, particularly in maths and English.
JCQ analysis suggests these early entries could be partly responsible for the drop in results as 16-year-olds are outperforming 15-year-olds.
The JCQ described this as a "damaging trend", not in the best interests of pupils but driven by the accountability system, where schools are measured on how many pupils get at least a C grade in English and maths.
In English, the proportion of entries awarded A*s to Cs fell by 0.5 percentage points, to 63.6 per cent, the fall was of 0.8 percentage points.
This year 53.1 per cent of science entries were awarded between an A* and a C, down from 60.7 per cent last year.
That was the biggest fall in top results across all the subjects, however, there has been some national controversy about the increased level of difficulty of the science examinations.
The provisional Cornwall picture is incomplete at this stage but looks promising and puts Cornwall above the level achieved last year for 5+ A*-C GCSEs including English and mathematics and the percentage A*- C figures in English and mathematics separately.
If this holds once all the results are collated, Cornwall would buck the national trend and close the gap on the national picture.
Welcoming the success of Cornish students, Deanne Fishbourne, the Council’s head of service for schools, achievement and SEN, said that the exams were an important stepping stone for young people in Cornwall.
“I’m really pleased to see so many young people do so well in their GCSEs.
"These young people are the first to be affected by the Government’s decision to raise the participation age to 18 by 2015,” she said.
“This means that this group has to continue in learning or training until July 2014.
However, this does not mean they need necessarily to stay on in a classroom.
“While many will choose to remain in full time education, such as a school sixth form or FE College, they can also opt for work based learning such as an apprenticeship or take part in part time education or training if they are employed, self employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more per week.
“The aim of the change is to give every young person the best chance to achieve and succeed,” she added.
“Evidence shows that taking part in education or training beyond the age of 16 offers young people the chance to develop the skills and qualifications that will open the doors to future employment, help them make the most of their potential and earn more over their lifetime.”
Officers from the local authority will now be working with headteachers and governors to analyse both the GCSE results and last week’s A Level results.
The results of this analysis will help to inform a meeting between headteachers and senior council officers, including interim chief executive Paul Masters and corporate director Trevor Doughty, on 17 September when Cornwall’s Raising Aspirations and Achievement strategy will be discussed.
“It is important for the future of both our young people and for the future of Cornwall that all students have access to the highest possible quality of education” said Trevor Doughty, the council’s corporate director for children, schools and families.
“While the majority of our schools are achieving high standards, we need to ensure that all are enabling students to achieve the maximum progress possible.
Paul Masters, the council’s interim chief executive, echoed that statement.
He said: “The council is working hard to ensure that success for our local economy is closely related to success for our young people”.
IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD IF RESULTS DON'T MAKE THE GRADE
STUDENTS across the city are feeling nervous and excited about what may lie in store for them today.
City College Plymouth student, Tom Adams, joined City College Plymouth after receiving a disappointing first set of GCSE results at school.
The 16-year-old from Liskeard, felt that he did not do as well as expected and that he was capable of achieving better results.
“I was really disappointed with my initial GCSE results and just felt that I would do better at City College,” he said yesterday.
Tom has been studying GCSEs in English, maths, double science, sociology and history with the ultimate aim of progressing to the college’s A’level Academy.
“I have really enjoyed studying at the college and am hoping that I will get the GCSE results I need to ensure I can go on to study A’levels in law, psychology, environmental science and either critical thinking or geography.
“I am not sure what I will go on to do after A’levels, but university is a possibility. Bearing in mind where I was a year ago things are looking really positive!” he added.
Tom’s mum, Jane Adams, said: “We knew that school just wasn’t the right environment for Tom so after his initial GCSE results, we discussed the options available and chose to take him out of school.
“Even though most of the students at City
College were older than Tom, he fitted in really well and the staff were excellent.
“They really supported him and have made his time at the college an enjoyable one. Fingers crossed he gets the results he needs to go onto the A-level Academy!”
Pupils at Lipson Co-operative Academy were also anticipating what the important envelopes would hold for them today.
Speaking yesterday Lawrence Cooper, aged 16, from Lipson, said: “It’s nerve wracking waiting for results. I’ll be glad to open that envelope and hopefully celebrate with my friends.”
Samuel Cameron, also 16, from St Judes, added: “My mum is probably more nervous than I am. I’m the same as Lawrence hopefully be able to celebrate with my friends.”
Commenting on an expected drop in GCSE pass rates nationally, Stephen Radley, policy director at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “For the second year running we have seen a drop in the numbers of pupils achieving A* to C grades in English, maths and the sciences.
"This is disappointing, given that manufacturers are ready and waiting to recruit young people, but in return they must be assured that students are equipped with the right skills and qualifications.
“Attainment in these key subjects is crucial for young people, whether they choose a vocational pathway, such as an apprenticeship, or remain in further or higher education.
"Therefore, the government must immediately re-focus its efforts towards driving up the quality of teaching and ensure that more students achieve good grades in critical subjects such as English, maths and the sciences.”
ADVICE ON OFFER FROM CITY COLLEGE PLYMOUTH
EXAM results are a nerve-wracking time for students but a college is holding an information and advice morning.
City College Plymouth is hosting an information, advice and guidance morning tomorrowon Friday 23 August, between 10am and 1pm at the Kings Road site in Devonport. College staff will be available to offer advice about the huge range of courses on offer - including academic qualifications such as A’levels, work-related vocational qualifications including NVQs and national diplomas, and higher education qualifications including foundation degrees and higher national certificates.
The expert teams from funding and careers guidance will also be available to offer free impartial advice on funding, including subsidised travel plans, a free breakfast club and meal support, learning support, careers and how to apply for a course.
There are still places available on a wide range of courses at all levels.
For more information call 01752 305300 or visit www.cityplym.ac.uk.