North East students bucked the national trend by receiving a record number of top A-level grades.
Yesterday saw thousands of teenagers celebrate after picking up their exam results from schools and colleges around the region. While there was a national decline of 0.3% in the number of students receiving A* and A grades, the North East saw an improvement of 0.4% from last year.
For the second year running, the region also saw an increase in the number of candidates take STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – and recorded a 0.2% improvement in the overall pass rate from last year.
Schools NorthEast director Beccy Earnshaw said: “The results for the region are really positive. Our students have bucked the national trend and we’ve seen an increase in the number of young people receiving top grades.
“Our rate of improvement is one of the highest in the country. In terms of the region’s employers, an increase for the second year running in the number of people taking STEM subjects is great.
“A lot of the region’s employers are keen to see people taking these subjects. Hopefully, this will mean there will be a greater number of young people getting jobs and benefiting the region’s economy.”
Celebrating another successful year was Central Newcastle High School, where more than 60% of all results were at A*-A grades, with 32 girls achieving A* and A grades in all subjects.
Headteacher Hilary French said: “These are a magnificent set of results and I am delighted to see the girls have achieved places at the universities of their choice.”
And there was success at Dame Allan’s Sixth Form, in Fenham, where all 20 students received an A* or an A, including Lizzy Mansfield, 18, from Gosforth, who will be going to Oxford University to study physics and philosophy after securing A*s in physics, maths, further maths and an A in chemistry
Sunderland College students were also celebrating after chalking up the best set of A-level results on record.
More than 1,000 young people who have studied at Sunderland College campuses across the city for their A and AS Levels have made the grade, with a 99.6% pass rate.
Emily Elkington, 18, from Tunstall, Sunderland, studied psychology, sociology and religious studies, as well as undertaking an extended project in psychology, achieving two A*s and two As. Emily plans to study psychology at the University of Nottingham.
At King Edwards, in Morpeth, James Famelton, 17, achieved four A* grades in maths, further maths, physics and chemistry. He will now study natural sciences at Cambridge.
More than 50% of this year’s 202-strong A level cohort achieved A* to B grades, and 98% A* to E.
At Cramlington Learning Village, 15 students achieved all A* or A grades.
Friends Kate Sheffer and Lauren Carroll achieved a clean sweep with A* in maths, chemistry and biology and A* in their extended project. Both are off to Cambridge to study natural science.
Twin sisters Heather and Megan McCoull continued their lifelong sibling solidarity at exam time – by clocking up an impressive eight A grades between them.
They were among the highest achievers at King Edward VI School in Morpeth and, after going through school life together, they are now heading in different directions to study at university.
The 18-year-old twins, who live with their parents in Morpeth, both got two A* grades and two As, with Heather getting hers in physics, biology, chemistry and maths, securing a place to read biological natural sciences at Cambridge University, while Megan’s are in psychology, art, history and English literature, seeing her head to York University to study history.
Megan said: “I already knew I had an A* in psychology and got what I needed in the other subjects, so I’m very happy. At GCSE we studied a lot together but because we did such different things at A-levels we didn’t do it so much.”
Heather added: “My results were what I was hoping for but better than I was expecting. I’m delighted with the A* grades because physics and biology are my favourite subjects.” The pair weren’t the only twins celebrating their results yesterday.
At Church High School in Newcastle, identical twins Eleanor and Sophie Harrison found out they will soon be separated by thousands of miles after receiving their results. The pair have spent their entire lives at school together but in just a few weeks one of them will begin studying at an American university. Eleanor, 18, achieved the results she needed to go to the University of California to study English.
Sophie, 18, is heading to the University of Leeds to study art and design, having achieved one better grade than her twin.
She said: “I beat her. I got A*AB, and she got AAB. It’s always been competitive and we did two of the same subjects.”
Best ever results for academy
Students at the Northumberland Church of England Academy achieved its best ever A-level results.
Year thirteens at the academy's Josephine Butler campus at Ashington achieved an average point score of 752, a rise of 14% on last year's figure of 662. In all, 22.2% of entries were awarded grades A* or A and 62.4% grades A* to C. Students also continued to perform strongly in BTEC and vocational subjects.
Gentijana Juniku, 18, from Ashington, achieved a double distinction star in a diploma in business studies, the equivalent of A*s, as well as a pass in travel and tourism. She is to do Korean studies at Sheffield University.
Gentijana said there are only two universities in the country which offer the course. “It is really quite rare. The last few years it has become a bit more popular with a lot of kids like me. I am interested in Korean music and drama, teenage stuff like that.”
Another good performer was Eleanor Imrye, 18, also from Ashington, who got an A in physics, a B in English literature and a C in religious studies.
She will study psychology at Sunderland University.
Eleanor said: “I am pretty chuffed. I was a bit worried about them at first but it is just good to know I do not have to be.”
Principal director of secondary Peter Blackburn said: “I am really pleased with all the efforts from students and staff. This is evidence of another year of hard work producing really good results.”
Melissa Hudson, 18, from Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, got an A* in sociology, an A in pyschology and a B in English literature. She is going on to study pyschology at Newcastle University.
Top grades down
Nationally, the proportion of A-level candidates awarded top grades has fallen for the second year, amid a rise in students taking science and maths.
In total, 26.3% of entries across the country scored an A or A*, down from 26.6% last year. It is believed to be the second biggest fall in the history of A-levels, and comes the year after the A*-A pass rate fell for the first time in more than 20 years.
The number of entries awarded an A* – the highest grade – also dipped to 7.6%, compared with 7.9% last year, while the overall A*-E pass rate rose slightly by 0.1% to 98.1%.
According to figures published by the Joint Council for Qualifications, there has been a continued move towards science and maths A-levels, which are often seen as tougher subjects.
The national picture revealed that boys outperformed girls at attaining the top grade again this year, and widened the gap, with 8% of boys’ entries attaining an A* compared with 7.4% of girls’. Girls are still slightly ahead in A*-A grades combined. Overall, 26.6% of girls got at least an A, while 26% of boys achieved this.