Pupils and teachers at Blatchington Mill School were celebrating their “exceptional” GCSE results this morning (Thursday 24 August).
The Hove school said that nationally about 2 per cent of entrants for English and maths would receive the new top grade – grade 9 – described as an A**. At Blatch the figure was 4 per cent.
Describing the results in the “hardest ever” GCSEs as a “phenomenal success”, head teacher Ashley Harrold said: “This is a wonderful day for Blatch.”
The school said: “This year sees the first wave of the more challenging GCSE exams, with new specifications for English and maths which contain significantly more difficult content and the introduction of a new grade 9 at the top of the scale – worth A** in English and maths.
“With hard work and enthusiasm the students in Year 11 have risen to the new challenge and produced a set of results that the entire school community is remarkably proud of.
“Of the new A** (9) grades, 36 were achieved by students at Blatch – 10 in English, 18 in English literature and 8 in maths.
“Initial indications from exam boards had been that roughly 2 per cent of these grades would be issued.
“Blatch secured double this with 4 per cent of grades at this new best ever standard.
“Overall there was a large rise in top grades at Blatch, with 10 per cent of all grades at A**/A*.
“In maths 75 students achieved grades 9, 8, or 7 (equivalent to A**, A* and A).
“Similarly in English 89 students achieved this same benchmark and in science 94 students got an A* or A – a superb achievement made even more impressive by 45 per cent of all students in further additional science also achieving A* or A.
“In Latin 58 per cent of all grades were A*/A, and in both Music and Drama 48 per cent of all grades were A* or A.
“Success wasn’t limited to a handful of students – in total over 160 students achieved at least one A**, A* or A grade – representing over 57 per cent of the year group.
“More than 720 A**, A* and A grades were awarded to Blatch students and 70 students gained at least 5 A**/A* grades each.
“This level of academic excellence would be an accomplishment in any year but against the context of the new tougher exams it is exceptional.
“The new GCSEs in English and maths set a ‘good’ grade at grade 4, equivalent to a grade C on the previous system.
“Under this measure 78 per cent of students achieved this benchmark in English and 78 per cent achieved it in maths.
“Overall 33 per cent of students achieved the EBacc (English Baccalaureate) measure (English, maths, science, a modern foreign language and a humanities subject all above a grade C) – well above the national average for the second year running.
“In over 20 different subject areas students achieved between 100 per cent and 75 per cent A* to C grades – with subjects as diverse as history, PE, ethics, science, art, maths, Spanish, performing arts, English, dance and textiles all excelling.
“The students overall achieved an ‘Attainment 8’ score – which measures their performance over their best 10 subjects – of 50.2, meaning the average grade for all students was above a C.
“A full assessment of the progress made compared to national averages is due in October with the release of Progress 8 data
“But the progress made by students across all three sciences and across all four performing arts areas can already be seen to be extremely strong and is likely to be significantly above the national average.”
Mr Harrold said: “This is a wonderful day for Blatch. The new GCSEs were a good change. They have given students another grade to aim for at A** and introduced more challenging content which can only be a good thing for students in the long run.
“However, the concern was always that this group of students would be guinea pigs in the new system, and we were of course concerned about how they would cope in the first run through of the exams.
“To say they have excelled is an understatement – they have absolutely shone – we are so proud of them all.
“Hard work has paid off and these students will give confidence to the younger year groups that they too can reach these standards.
“I’d like to thank the teachers and other staff at school, who have educated and supported these students to this superb level.”
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