A SUPERSTAR student from Billingham with eyes on studying at Oxford or Cambridge is on Cloud 9 after becoming one of the country’s top achievers in her GCSEs.

On a day when St Michael’s Catholic Academy proudly boasted the “best results of its recent history”, 16-year-old Emma Dickenson shone brighter than anyone by hitting straight 9s in all nine subjects.

Emma, who likes to run and write creatively in her spare time to relax, is planning to head to QE Sixth Form in Darlington to study A-levels in biology, chemistry and physics in the hope of heading to one of the best universities in the country after that.

She said: “I was shaking all over. I can get quite nervous and this was certainly one of those days. When I got the envelope, opened it up and saw 9s, it was a massive relief. It showed that I had done my work properly and it had paid off.

“It would have been nice to have had the experience of the actual exam but nevertheless I am really glad I got 9s. My target grades were 8s and 9s. I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

“After college I would like to go into medicine and go to Oxford or Cambridge."

"Hopefully if I can keep achieving results like these I will get there. I can’t believe it, I think I will celebrate with my family, by having a nice meal at home.”

St Michael’s Acting Principal Helen Keough said: “Emma has a fantastic future ahead of her. A lot of students have the intelligence, but she has applied herself perfectly to place her among the top three or four per cent in the country.”

It was a fantastic day for St Michael’s, a Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust member, overall after it recorded 63 9s; ten more than in 2018 and 15 more than a year ago.

There was a 73.4 per cent pass rate of students achieving a 4 or above in English and maths, the equivalent of a Grade C in the old measures, while 11.4 per cent gained a 7 or above.

Mrs Keough said: “We are absolutely over the moon with the results because we feel they represent what the students would have got if they had to sit their exams. They are a talented group of students who thoroughly deserve their success

“At St Michael’s we were extremely robust and rigorous in the way we allocated centre-assessed grades. We had a strong evidence base for our decision-making and we are delighted that the work done by staff and students is going to set the children on a path of success and confidence in their future destinations.

“After the A-levels when so many students didn’t get what they deserved, we are overwhelmingly relieved the government made the decision to change and reverse the algorithm which could have unfairly judged our students and possibly affected their future chances.

“There is a great sense of satisfaction and relief that they have had the humility to accept they were wrong and put the children first.”

Head Boy Jimi Diaz-Wright wasn’t far behind Emma. He achieved a brilliant eight 9s and a 7 in French and is heading to QE Sixth Form too.

Jimi, a keen musician, said: “I thought I would get two or three 9s, I was hoping for that, so I am absolutely delighted. I wasn’t sure I’d get as high as a 7 in French, but elated is really the word.

“I was nervous when I woke up, my friends went before me and I’d heard a few things so that gave me a boost. Now I will be starting my A-levels in three weeks’ time, in maths, biology and chemistry, and I would like to get into medicine eventually.”

Anna Collighan and Christian Savage posted five 9s.

Christian, who also had three 8s and one 7, from Norton, said: “I’m pleased. I have always had my high targets. I am part of the lucky few that have not had to do my exams, but the other way to look at it is that I have worked for five years without having those exams to sit at the end of that.

“But I have got what I mainly wanted from my time at St Michael’s. I am going to Bede Sixth Form now to do maths, biology and chemistry. That’s a broad selection so I can then decide what I want to go on to do.”

Angelo Ivin had four 9s and five 8s, while George Maddren will go to Bede to study maths, economics and biology after achieving two 9s, four 8s and three 7s.

Alex Maddren, the Head Girl at St Michael’s, went for her results with friends and achieved the grades she wanted, which included three 7s and two 8s in RE and Food.

The 16-year-old said: “I am over the moon with my results. I loved school and will miss it. Now I am going to Bede to study A-levels in English literature, business and sociology and I hope I enjoy being there just as much.”