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A new system but Islington GCSE pupils still make the grade

Students scale the heights of success despite changes to exam structure

25 August, 2017 — By Emily Finch, Koos Couvée

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson pupils show off their grades

THERE were mostly smiles as students picked up their GCSE results across Islington yesterday (Thursday) amid a raft of changes to exams and gradings, including a new nine-point scale in the key subjects of English and maths.

But despite the tests being considered tougher than last year, at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Angel results improved compared to last year – a trend that the all-girls’ school has maintained for some time.

Olga Popiolete- Szuluczewska, 16, was in tears after opening her envelope but soon revealed they were tears of joy and relief as she scored high grades including a nine – the new top mark – in English literature, a seven in maths and an A* in history.

“I feel really happy,” she said. “I’m just so relieved because I revised every day for so many hours. I was so scared.”

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School pupils Ayan, Saidat and Amina show off their results

Fatima Diriye, 16, an aspiring teacher, was also very pleased with her grades which included an eight in maths. She is off to study A-levels at City and Islington College. “I’m ecstatic,” she said. “Maths was the subject I thought I would struggle with the most.”

Executive headteacher Jo Dibb said: “I’m absolutely delighted by these wonderful results, they’ve come despite all the changes to the curriculum and the grading system. The girls have done incredibly well, with so many of them getting the top grades.”

Ms Dibb said the proportion of students who had achieved a nine grade was six per cent compared to three per cent across England.

At Central Foundation Boys’ School in Finsbury, the 135 pupils at the Cowper Street school gathered from 9am to collect their grades, which were described as “an outstanding set of outcomes” by headteacher Jamie Brownhill.

Central Foundation pupils with their results which included 9s

Overall, 87 per cent of students achieved a “standard pass” of grade four or above in both English and maths – the equivalent of a C when compared to the old grading system. The 150- year-old school also showed strong results in the sciences with 81 per cent achieving at least a C grade, with 40 per cent getting A*s or A.

Herbert Alexander received one of the top grades in the school with a nine in English literature. “I thought I messed up, I did much better than expected. I haven’t told my mum yet but I think she’ll be proud. I can’t have done any better,” he said.

Another student, Luke Sebaggala, saw five A*s, a level nine in maths and an eight in English literature. “This year was very hard. I did better than expected,” he said.

Liam Elliot Brady received the top grades at Central Foundation with a level nine in English language and maths, along with six A*s and two As including an A* in Chinese.

He said he was going to study Chinese, government, history and French for A-level at the school next year.

Central Foundation pupils pleased with their results even with grade nines 

Mohammed Rahman and Mohammed Khan didn’t get any grade nines but were still happy with their results. Mohammed Rahman achieved a grade seven in English and a grade six in maths. “I didn’t think I would pass anything. The teachers here were supportive,” he said.

Mr Brownhill said: “We believe every young person can be successful whatever their starting point or background, and our results demonstrate that we have made this belief a reality.”

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