THEY'VE had it tougher than any students before them – the words of headteachers who have praised pupils for their exceedingly good exam results despite a ‘rigorous’ new curriculum and exam regime.
Students across Havant and Waterlooville picked up their GCSE results yesterday – with many fearing the worst because of the changes.
But despite the challenges, many achieved higher grades than they expected, some outstanding, with headteachers commending staff and pupils for their work.
Crookhorn College headteacher, Sarah Bennett, said: ‘What is clear from these exam results is students have to work really hard to achieve the pass or higher grades.
‘Those who in the past might have got through because they did okay in exams but didn’t put the work in behind the scenes, haven’t achieved grades they could have done.
‘Overall our higher-end grades are significantly up on last year. However, our 9-4 pass grade is down slightly, and I think that’s because our English results are down a bit, and that comes with a tougher grading of those English exams.
‘I am so proud of how well so many of the students have responded to the tougher more rigorous curriculum and resulting exam regime.’
Crookhorn pupil Claudia Gough, 16, achieved seven grade 9s and one grade 8.
She cried as she read her results and said: ‘It’s crazy! I did a lot of work but I didn’t think I’d get mainly 9s, there's been such a lot to do.
‘I’m going to Havant & South Downs College to do A-levels but I’m still choosing my options out of English language, history, law and sociology.
‘I want to do law at university and go into family law.
‘Our teachers were really helpful in the run up to exams with masterclasses.’
Isla Savellis-Fry, 16, thought she would fail most of her GCSEs after struggling, but turned things around with motivation and the support of the school and said: ‘I’ve never had grades like this before’.
She got a mixture of grades with three 6s being her highest and added: ‘I always struggled with most of my subjects except religious studies.
‘I tried my best and revised as best I could. Now I’m going on to do a personal training course at Havant & South Downs College.’
Horndean Technology College (HTC) headteacher Julie Summerfield said the new grading system is incredibly complicated.
She added: ‘Teachers teaching subjects that weren’t maths and English are happy with the results because nobody knew what it was going to take to get a 9, we were working totally in the dark.
‘Adjusting has been demanding because you don’t know, when you’re not told, what the grade boundaries are.
‘There’s no doubt students taking these new exams with new grade boundaries have had it harder than anyone before them.
‘There are some students we feared wouldn’t even get a 1 in maths because it’s that difficult – but they did.
‘We are extremely proud of HTC’s results as they demonstrate the excellence that students and staff have achieved together.
‘Students will have very promising futures as a result of their successes.’
At the school Ethan Robb, 16 and from Clanfield, got a distinction in business studies and passed all of his other GCSEs.
The footballer started a scholarship at Pompey Academy in July after winning the under-16 Hampshire Cup with the school’s football team, as well as the district cup, this year.
He spent one day a week during his school time at the academy.
Mrs Summerfield praised the team for their bond on and off the pitch, and said all the boys did well not to take the focus off their GCSEs.
Pupil Lauren Salter, 16 and from Rowlands Castle, achieved five 9s and three 8s - not expecting the results she got after finding it difficult to balance the workload.
She said: ‘Balancing everything and trying to revise but also have time for myself and to de-stress, and have a social life, was difficult.
‘I was revising all year for at least an hour a day. Closer to the exams probably five or six hours a day.’
Ian Gates, headteacher at The Cowplain School, is very pleased with the school’s results.
He said: ‘As well as English and maths we had some great results in other areas, including geography, drama and ICT.
‘Our students achieved 21 grades equivalent to the new grade 9.
‘Well done to all students and teachers who worked so hard to achieve success in what are increasingly demanding qualifications.’
Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville said the reforms have made it difficult to compare this year with last.
Headteacher Matthew Quinn said: ‘It is important we capture student success, many youngsters have been successful despite significant challenges, there are many personal triumphs across the ability range.
‘All our students deserve significant praise and congratulations on their outstanding performance.
‘I would also like to recognise the commitment and dedication of the teachers and support staff.’