County Durham GCSE pupils prosper

Students in County Durham have been applauded after receiving excellent GCSE results amid changes to the exams.

For the first time this year, young people were marked differently in English and mathematics – being scored from 1-9 with a level ‘4’ classed as a ‘pass’ similar to the old C grade and level 5 a ‘good pass.’

In County Durham, 60 per cent of students were successful in achieving level 4-9 in both maths and English.

Seventy four per cent achieved a 4-9 pass in English and 68 per cent achieved this in maths.

Phil Hodgson, Durham County Council’s interim head of education, said: “We’d like to congratulate all our students whose results are really pleasing given we’ve just seen the most significant changes in the exam system since O Levels finished in 1987.

“Our results are broadly in line with last year and we’re confident that attainment in both English and maths will place County Durham in a very strong position both regionally and nationally.”

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, added: “’We are delighted with these results especially in the light of changes to the examination and grading system.

“I’m sure potential employers will also be pleased with the outcome and efforts of County Durham students.

“Our young people should be congratulated as they go on to greater things in the world of work or further education.”

Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive at Gateshead College, is urging young people to carefully consider their future options.

“Having received their GCSE results, hundreds of young people in the North East will now be faced with a multitude of options as they plan their next steps.

“This can be a scary time for teenagers, particularly those who perhaps haven’t got the grades they were looking for. It can be an equally as confusing time for those who have done better than expected and aren’t sure which step to take next. Even if this is the case, help is at hand and a variety of academic and vocational options are available – regardless of the circumstances.

“GCSEs are just the first step in a long, winding road that will hopefully lead to a rewarding, career but it’s important that students make the right choice now to give them the best chance of success.

“For many, staying on at school to study A-Levels would seem to be the natural thing to do. Taking the traditional academic path will work for some, but others may feel they could benefit from a different way of learning in another environment.

“Apprenticeships and other forms of vocational training can also lead to higher level qualifications or a sustainable job. They equip students with the creative, practical and entrepreneurial skills and ambition needed by employers. With English and mathematics integrated into every programme, students also acquire the numeracy and literacy skills that are essential to every job.

“There’s no one size fit all approach to education and skills development. Apprenticeships and vocational learning shouldn’t be viewed as a poor alternative to the traditional academic route of A-Levels.

“Our students are evidence of this. Young champion boxer Brodie Stephenson, on an Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE), is now enrolled on the England Boxing Talent Pathway Programme which helps budding boxers fulfil their potential and compete on the national stage. Or take Corben Jones, who has used a live events production course at the college as the springboard to progress to the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), where he is studying for a production and technical arts degree.

“Sometimes it can be easy to stay on at school because that seems to be the “right” thing to do. While this may hold true for some people, for others it won’t be a natural fit. Making the smart choice, rather than the obvious choice, is vital.

“Whatever happened on results day, it’s not the end of the world if the outcome is disappointing or not as expected. Young people should remember that good quality careers advice is available. For those who need some guidance, our careers advisors – who are part of a Beacon award-winning careers advice service – are available to talk through the options.

“With the right level of support and guidance, there is every chance that students can embark on an education route that’s right for them – one that puts them firmly on the path to a rewarding career.”

Secondary school in Peterlee, The Academy at Shotton Hall, is celebrating another year of GCSE success, achieving some of the highest results in County Durham.

73 per cent of students passed at the new grades 9-4 (broadly equivalent to A*-C grades) in English and maths, with 87 per cent passing English which includes an impressive 15 grade 9s – the top new grade achievable.

Top performers at the Academy were Emily Hughes and Harrison Metcalfe-Jones, with each achieving two grade 9s, 6A*s, one grade 8 and one grade A. Other high achievers were Kate Cowan and Chloe Broom with almost all As, A*s and 9s across the board.

Lesley Powell, executive principal at the Academy and CEO of the North East Learning Trust said:

“We are delighted with our GCSE results at Shotton Hall where our students have once again achieved grades to be proud of. This year is the first year of the new grading system for English and maths, and I am delighted that many of our students managed to achieve grade 9s, which represent the top 2-5% of grades awarded across England.”

“Our staff consistently deliver incredibly high standards of teaching, meaning we offer the children of East Durham an education that rivals the very best in England. I think we have something that we can all be very proud of here at Shotton Hall.”

Students without the grades they hoped for or those looking for ideas about potential careers can visit where they can find information on apprenticeships, recruitment and training. 

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