Were some North East GCSE pupils robbed of grades?

Changes to GCSE exam grade boundaries have sparked fears for some North East school pupils' marks

Pupils from St. Thomas More School in Blaydon, open their GCSE results
Pupils from St. Thomas More School in Blaydon, open their GCSE results

Changes to grade boundaries have led some North East schools to call for a re-mark in certain GCSE exams.

Yesterday thousands of students across the region picked up their results, with some schools reporting record-breaking successes.

But although local authorities reported a continued overall improvement in pass rates, and North Tyneside recorded its best results, some individual pupils were left feeling disappointed with changes to the marking system.

Newcastle City Council, as well as other councils in the region, said some schools reported there was issues again this year in relation to English in particular and a number of schools were asking for re-marks.

Beccy Earnshaw, director of Schools North East, said: “We have heard of some individual schools who feel they have been affected by marking and new boundaries but it’s too early to get a full picture on that at the moment.


“Every region in the country, including the North East, has had a decline in their rate of overall improvement this year but we are still improving. I know we have been hearing lots of stories of best ever results in a lot of local authorities in the area, despite a decline in results nationally. It demonstrates the progress being made by pupils and staff.”

Kenton School head teacher David Pearmain said: “It’s been tougher on the core subjects particularly English but generally our students have done very well.

“Some of the borderline students are maybe a bit disappointed because of more harder marking than in previous years. This is a really difficult time for students I think. It’s a problem at the moment because they don’t know what they need to do to get qualifications they need. It’s not clear what the standards are, particularly in the core subjects, and they are the ones that are going to be more important for their future.

“I’m all in favour of rigorous standards but we need to know exactly what these standards are so we can prepare the students.

“At the moment we are in limbo land and it’s the students that are being affected by it and it’s not fair on them, they need to know how to get the qualifications they need.”

The North East had the second highest improvement rate for pupils achieving grade A results and the highest improvement for achieving at least a grade C.

A national decline in some results was being blamed on an increase of pupils aged 15 and under being entered into the exams early and the North East had one of the highest rates.

But there were also many success stories across the region as students were rewarded for their hard work.

Results at Alnwick’s Duchess’s High School were described as excellent by head teacher Maurice Hall, with more than 75% of the students’ grades coming in at A* to C, and more than 25% being A* or As.

One of the highest achievers was Simon Smith, 16, of Felton who chalked up 11 A* grades and one A. He plans to study physics, biology, chemistry and maths at A level, and hopes to become a doctor.

He said: ”I expected to get the odd B or maybe C grade, mainly in music and French, so I’m delighted to get so many As. I certainly didn’t expect 11 A*s but I have worked very hard, particularly on my main sciences and maths.”

At Central High School in Jesmond, Newcastle, 60% of the girls have gained at least seven A* or A grades at GCSE and nearly 40% of girls achieved all A*s and As in every subject.

Headmistress Hilary French said: “The girls have performed phenomenally well. There have been some outstanding individual performances with seven girls achieving 10 A*s or more.”

At Dame Allan’s School, in Fenham, 26 pupils achieved all A* and A grades, with Harriet Dulson, from Burnopfield, proving she had a winning formula when she was awarded 100% in her Chemistry GCSE.

There was also an amazing result for Newcastle primary school pupil Connor Humble, who gained a GCSE in maths. The talented Atkinson Road Primary Academy pupil scored a C after extra teaching at Excelsior Academy.

We have heard of some schools who feel they have been affected by new boundaries


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer