PUPILS have been praised for their GSCE results after figures show significant improvements on last year despite major changes to the exam system.

Schools across the county have maintained overall success from 2018 and Durham County Council say there has been significant improvements in the academic performance of disadvantaged pupils.

The results are set against ongoing reforms to the GCSE system, with the majority of GCSE courses now giving pupils a 1-9 grade. GCSE level 4 is deemed as a pass, which is similar to the old ‘C’ grade and level 5 as a ‘good pass.' There has also been a shift away from coursework, meaning more weight is given to the final exams.

Results across England have been in a state of flux since the first wave of reforms, and grades for all regions took a dip in 2017 when the new maths and English qualifications were introduced.

In County Durham, the proportion of pupils achieving success at grade 4 and above in both English and maths is 60 per cent. This matches last year’s performance, which was an improvement from 56 per cent in 2017. The average attainment score for both subjects has also increased.

Emilie Dunn, who achieved ten grade 9s at Woodham Academy, said: "I thought the exams had gone ok but I didn't think I had done as well as I have. I'm in shock. I'm going to QE to study French, English and Maths."

Julie Bonas, Emilie's mother, added: "Emilie has worked extremely hard over the last two years, her revision cards have never been out of her hands. We are so unbelievably proud of her."

Andrew Bell, current maths teacher and soon-to-be headteacher at Woodham Academy, in Newton Aycliffe, said: "I am absolutely delighted for the parents, pupils and the staff. I can say that this has been one of the hardest working year groups we have had to date."

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Cabinet member for children and young people’s services at Durham County Council, said: “We are delighted our young people have achieved such good results. The system has been changed significantly in recent years, with the removal of coursework and more difficult questions increasing the pressure on pupils during the exam period.

“These results are testament to how hard our young people have worked. They also reflect the commitment of our teaching staff and the invaluable support provided by parents, carers and other family members.

“GCSEs are important but if you did not get the results you want, please do not worry. There are many paths to success and support is available, so make sure you seek advice and access the help on offer.”

Pupils who did not receive the grades they hoped for and those looking for careers advice can visit durhamworks.info for information on apprenticeships, recruitment and training for 16 to 24-year-olds across the county.