Students triumphant in GCSEs

MORE impressive exam results had students leaping for joy in Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth and Loddon yesterday.A week after the A-level results had been hailed among the best yet, 16-year-olds were celebrating their GCSE marks - among them Olympian Tom Barber.

MORE impressive exam results had students leaping for joy in Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth and Loddon yesterday.

A week after the A-level results had been hailed among the best yet, 16-year-olds were celebrating their GCSE marks - among them Olympian Tom Barber.

The 16-year-old archer from Denton returned from Beijing, where he was reserve in the Great Britain archery squad, to find he had achieved an A* in design and technology, three other As and six Bs. And that despite the fact that for much of the past year training for the Olympics took up much of his time.

The delighted Bungay High School student was relieved at the results yesterday. And he told the Journal:

“The Olympic trials we had early this year - they could not have come at a worse time. The last two were in June - that is the same time as the exams. I have to miss a number of exams, although in most subjects I have done at least one paper. Fortunately the exams boards have been kind to me and the school has worked really hard to get me the grades. It was not easy at the tail end of last year, there was quite a lot of learning to be missed. I managed to work hard in the time I had spare.”

He added: “"I've done surprisingly well. One A*, three As and six Bs. The archery had to take a bit of a back seat during June.

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Now I'm staying on to do A levels so it will be even tougher next year but I will manage. I'm going to do Physics, Chemistry, Biology and History."

Tom got back from his memorable Beijing trip only recently, having travelled to Macau on July 27.

“I was part of the British archery team, I was the reserve candidate. I spent two weeks training in Macau, after that after the rest of the team went onto Beijing, I joined up with the Britain's Olympic Ambition 2012 programme, for young athletes who could be candidates for 2012. It offers them experience to go out to Beijing for eight days.

“It was really good. I learned a lot. It was actually reassuring getting out there. Everything looks more intimidating on the TV, it's calm and relaxed, the village is friendly. Even with our event, it is the same people there, the same faces. The only thing that is different is the stadium, it is huge compared with anything we are used to. I didn't feel like I would be out of place there or star struck.”

Tom's mother, Heather, said: “I'm very proud. He was under a lot of pressure this year and to achieve his results is amazing. He's worked hard at both the archery and his studies.”

As well as the A* he achieved As in Biology, Physics, and English Language, and Bs in English Literature, Chemistry, History, Maths, Stats, ICT.

The Sir John Leman achieved a 48pc past rate among students getting A_C in five subjects, including English and maths, slightly down on last year. But the 71pc pass rate at A-C in all subjects was 71pc, well up on last year's 65pc.

"As a new head this is a strong platform for me to take the school forward,” said headteacher Jeremy Rowe. “I'm proud of the students and the staff for how well they have worked. Teaching has been transformed over the past few years. Students are working harder and teachers are teaching better than ever - that is why results are going up."

At Bungay High School A*-C results including English and Maths matched last year's 52pc and the figure for A*-C in any subject rose to 68.5pc compared with last year's 61pc.

"We have some very happy youngsters here and very happy staff - 68.5pc is a school record and it's something we have been working towards and working very hard to get," said headteacher, Sean O'Neill.

At Hobart High school at Loddon there was a 61pc pass rate A*-C including maths and English, slightly up on last year, and an improved 74pc pass rate A*-C in all subjects.

Headteacher John Robson said: "The A to C figures for this year are equal to the best we have ever done. The A-C figure is on an upward trend and I am delighted by them and delighted for everyone involved with these results. They are very, very good. What we have got is an exceptionally good performance. The other thing that is important is the level of consistency. It is commendable."

Asked about claims nationally that exams were getting easier, he said: "Young people and staff can only work against the parameters that are set externally for us. I think it's appalling that exam boards and governments set standards, we achieve them and then we get people who decry them.

“As staff we work extremely hard, and the young people work extremely hard. For people to say this is getting easier is disrespectful to them. By all means change the system, but do not knock the children, do not knock my staff. It is not acceptable."

The success was also reflected at Langley School where a 77pc pass rate at A*-C including maths and Enghlish was logged, and 83pc generally - both figures up on last year.

Patricia O'Brien, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, praised the county-wide success.

"Students across Suffolk deserve to be congratulated today for their GCSE and vocational exam results. Particularly pleasing is seeing the efforts and achievements of all students being celebrated, from those who have recorded a run of A and A* grades to those who have done their very best. The students have worked hard for these exams, as have their teachers. This, combined with the support of families and friends, seems to be a significant factor in achieving success."

# Suffolk Youth and Connexions has teamed up with local radio stations across the county to promote the help, advice and guidance it offers to young people to make best use of their results. Young people and their parents and carers can also log onto the Youth and Connexions website - or phone their freephone number - 0800 085 4448.