A Level results 2019: North East students net country’s highest pass rate

North East students have secured the country’s highest A Level pass rate, while bucking a national trend for falling top scores.

As emotional teenagers collected their scores on Thursday , the region’s A*-E pass rate rose on last year to 98.3%.

By contrast, across England, the pass rate fell slightly, down 0.1% to 97.5%.

And although the region still holds one of the lowest rates of top A and A* grades in the country, it was the only region which saw a rise in the percentage of students getting the very best scores, up 0.3% to 23%. But London maintained its position as England’s top-scoring region, with 26.9% of A Levels in the city scoring As or A*s.

Students celebrate their A Levels success at Jesmond Park Academy

Kieran McGrane, head of Ponteland High School and a trustee for Schools North East, a network connecting the region’s schools, said A Level results were still experiencing “variability” as a result of a Government push for tougher examinations, which saw coursework and multi-part exams replaced by a linear system. Although the changes were first introduced in 2015, this year saw the introduction of the new regime for a final group of subjects, including maths.

He said: “When you move to the more linear courses there’s always a bit of disruption for that year – a lot of schools have probably been feeling like they’ve been scrabbling around in the dark looking for grade boundaries and past papers. That will settle down over time, but I think the exam boards will also have to have a look at the way they’re setting the exams. We saw the grade boundary for an A in one of the maths exams was around 50%, which suggests it’s being set too hard.”

He said the region had much to celebrate, though he called on Government to increase funding to North East schools to ensure all sixth forms and colleges were able to offer a full range of A Level options.

“I think North East schools have taken a bit of a beating for a number of years,” he said.

“So it’s incredible to see so many students here doing well and bucking the national trend. It’s especially great to see that pass rate, which shows students who are staying in school post 16 are getting their qualifications.”

Delighted Jesmond Park Academy students Xie Jiajun, left and Kyle Clifford Loquias Sevilla, who are both heading to Newcastle University

In County Durham, officials reported an overall increase in results on last year, with the county’s average score now a low B grade, beating the national average of a high C. Northumberland County Council said most of its schools beat their previous years scores, while across the county more students than ever before made it on to their first choice of higher education, apprenticeships or employment.

Students in North Tyneside recorded the borough’s best ever scores, with average point scores rising slightly to 34.4 compared to 34.2 in 2019 (equivalent to a C grade). And in Sunderland 72.4% of pupils hit grades A* to C, while 19.7% achieved A* and A grades and there was an overall 98.4% pass rate.

Gateshead, South Tyneside and Newcastle councils were unable to provide a detailed analysis of results in their area, but Newcastle Councillors said the pictured “looked positive” compared to last year.

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Amid the positive regional picture were successes for individual 18-year-olds, who walked away from results day delighted with their scores.

Among them was Cramlington Learning Village’s Katie Milligan who collected an A* in Chemistry, Maths and Physics and an A in Further Maths to enable her to study Engineering at Cambridge University, and has recently but aside a dream of becoming a racing car engineer in favour of doing more good for others.

“I obviously wanted to do well for myself, but I also wanted to do well for my teachers and make them proud. I’m so thankful for their support,” she said.

“I’m thinking of doing something that brings more benefit to people – like designing prosthetic limbs.”

The results came as a shock to  Anna Leason, 18, from Blyth, who had low hopes for her scores. But when she collected her envelope at Bede Academy, Blyth, she was in for a pleasant surprise: As in English literature and religious studies and a B in geography.

Ailish Gregory, who scored A* A* A

She said: “I am just in shock. I’ve never had such good results in my life. I was so sure that I wasn’t going to do well that I hadn’t even made any plans to go to university.

“I thought I’d just get a job and then apply for a foundation course next year. This changes everything and hopefully now I can go to Newcastle University to study geography.”

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A-level Results Day 2019

At Jesmond Park Academy, formerly known as Heaton Manor, in Newcastle, Ailish Gregory couldn’t believe her 2 A*s in biology and geography and an A in maths, as she’d thought nerves had got the better of her in her maths exam.

She said: “I hadn’t had enough to eat that morning and was nervous. It was about 10 minutes in.

“They just added that the time to the end of the exam, so I got the full allocated time. I just didn’t think I was going to get the result. I’m going to Durham University to study biology.”

 

Author: Hot reporter