Schools across the region are in line for record-breaking GCSE results today, despite warnings of a reduction in the number of top grades after exam boards were forced to “toughened up”.
Fresh from celebrating A level success last week, many schools are now rejoicing in great results from its GCSE candidates.
But earlier this year, Ofqual - the qualifications watchdog - published a list of dozens of “unusual” courses that will be scrapped within three years because of concerns they lack academic rigour.
Qualifications to be cut in England include a GCSE in home economics, which is sat by more than 32,000 pupils a year.
A planned overhaul of exams in core subjects such as English, maths and science has already been implemented, with Ofqual now tasked with reforming other disciplines.
Despite this, Year 11 students at the Royal Grammar School (RGS), in Newcastle, have produced a solid performance.
Over 53% of grades awarded were at A* and over 83% of grades were at A* or A.
Out of a year-group of 142 students, 61 achieved 11 GCSEs, 60 achieved all A* or A grades and 16 achieved all A* grades.
Headmaster Dr Bernard Trafford said: “Yet another cohort of RGS students has produced an astonishing set of results. Modest about their talents, most will be gob-smacked when they realize just how well they’ve done.
“They have worked immensely hard in ten or 11 subjects, a challenge involving real depth and breadth at the same time.
“They have been very well taught and superbly prepared, but the success and credit belong to them. I’m desperately proud of our boys and girls, and delighted for them.”
Newcastle College says now is the time for teenagers picking up their GCSE results to consider their long-term future plans.
Carole Kitching, principal of Newcastle College, said: “When considering your next steps, now is a great opportunity to find out more about vocational and technical qualifications as well as apprenticeships.
“Colleges offer post GCSE qualifications in subjects you may never have considered, but which offer really exciting opportunities for long term careers or higher education. A large proportion of our graduates get straight into a job, due to our close links with regional and national employers.”
Teachers’ union, the NASUWT, has praised teachers for weathering the impact of changes brought in by former education secretary Michael Gove.
The union’s secretary Chris Keates said: “Tomorrow’s GCSE results will be a reflection of the hard work put in by pupils and teachers who have been forced to cope with a totally unnecessary upheaval in the GCSE qualification system.
“Adapting to the changes has already put pupils and teachers under considerable stress and pressure. It is testament to their dedication and commitment that they have been able to cope with this and focus on teaching and learning, particularly following four years of relentless assaults on the teaching profession.”