FALCONS academy player Guy Pepper converted hard work in the classroom into ten GCSEs.

The Barnard Castle School pupil, who recently returned from a ‘life-changing’ rugby tour of South Africa, from Eggleston, said: “I’m pleased with my results, especially the 9 in PE, and will be staying at Barnard Castle School Sixth Form to study maths, chemistry and PE.”

Team GB para-sprinter India Oates thanked the school as she collected her nine GCSEs by donating an official shirt to her headmaster Tony Jackson.

Born in Newcastle’s RVI Hospital nine weeks early with her twin Amelia, India was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and now competes in T35 competitions, which are for athletes who are affected in all four limbs.

Her disability has never prevented her performing and with personal bests of 16.14 seconds and 33.63 for the 100m and 200m, respectively, she has always been one of the fastest para-athletes in the world.

Last December she was selected for the Paralympic Futures Academy and is now in the squad for World Para Junior Championship events.

Coached by Darlington Harriers’ Helen Bowles, who attends the Futures Academy weekends and competitions with India, she is also trained in strength, conditioning and recovery by Barnard Castle School coach Andy Woodward.

“I do not know what I would do without school as the facilities and support are brilliant,” she said. “So I wanted to say thank you by donating an official Team GB shirt. My dream remains to compete at the Paralympics, either in 2020 in Tokyo or 2024 in Paris.”

India plans to stay on at Barnard Castle School Sixth Form to study A levels in religious studies, PE and psychology. She then hopes to read a degree at Loughborough University, which is also home to the country’s Sports High Performance Centre.

Top performing student Mark Nicholson, of Gainford, was pleased with ten GCSEs, including 9s and 8s which he gained whilst tackling health issues surrounding a rare genetic condition Marfan Syndrome. The teenager has undergone surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in which two titanium bars and 27 screws were inserted to straighten his spine, a move that saw him grow 10cm in height, while his chest was completely reconstructed.He said: “I’ve loved my time at Barney and have had a lot of support from the school and my friends. I look forward to staying at sixth form to study maths, further maths, physics and French.”

Mother Lucie Nicholson, said: “The school and his friends have been fantastic and have kept a close watch on Mark since he was at Prep School. It is such a warm, welcoming and accepting school and no one has treated Mark any differently for his condition.”

Ryan Liu, who gained two 9s, three 8s and a 7, was also celebrating completing the full two year A Level maths course alongside his GCSEs and securing grade A, thanks to a bespoke timetable designed for him by the school.

Keen footballer Joe Roff, of Gainford, scored 11 GCSEs in total including nine 9s and an A in additional mathematics. The Bishop Auckland centreback will study maths, physics and French at A level.

More than 14 per cent of all GCSE and IGCSE results achieved by Barnard Castle School students were awarded the top marks of 9 or 8 (equivalent to former A*), with 87 per cent of pupils receiving grades 9 to 4 (equivalent to the former A* to C).

Tony Jackson, headmaster at Barnard Castle School, said: “It has been another positive year of examination results at Barney. There have been some outstanding individual performances; both by students who have achieved 8s and 9s across the board, and those who have achieved above and beyond their target grades.

“We are committed to developing the character of our young people by teaching values, such as humility, respect and leadership, throughout their educational journey at Barney, which help to shape and support their future careers. I would like to congratulate all our students on their results and wish them all the very best for the future.”

Oboist Evie Brenkley, of Barnard Castle, gained 12 GCSEs including nine 9s, pianist and trombonist Matthew Forster, of Manfield, managed 11 GCSEs including one 9 and five eights and euphonium player Thomas Dalton, of Dalton, near secured ten including four 8s.