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Another top class year for teens sitting ‘tough’ GCSEs

Schools out: Somoto Elumogo celebrates her results at Norwich School, Norfolk PICTURE: PA

TOP grades in GCSEs rose for the second year in a row — but just 837 teenagers scored a clean sweep with the highest possible grade.

Of the hundreds of thousands of youngsters receiving their results yesterday, 20.8 per cent scored one of the three top grades, up from 20.5 per cent last summer. The proportion receiving the top grades — at least a 7 (equivalent to an A) — is the highest since 2015, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications.

Exams regulator Ofqual, showed just 837 16-year-olds in England taking at least seven GCSEs — 0.1 per cent of those sitting their exams — scored a clean sweep of the maximum grade 9 in all subjects. This was up from 732 last year.

Of those who achieved a clean sweep, 66.4 per cent were girls and 33.6 per cent were boys.

Last year, 62 per cent were girls, and 38 per cent were boys.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said the results show pupils are going on to further study and the world of work ‘with the best possible foundations, focusing on the academic cornerstones of education while also stretching themselves creatively’.

Under England’s exams overhaul, GCSEs have been toughened up, with less coursework, and exams at the end of the two-year courses rather than throughout.

Traditional A*-G grades have been scrapped and replaced with a 9-1 system, with 9 the highest result. A 4 is broadly equivalent to a C grade, and a 7 equivalent to an A.

The rise comes despite a poll by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) that found eight in ten members in England believe the reformed courses are having a detrimental effect on lower-achieving students who are ‘collateral damage’.

ASCL head Geoff Barton said there were concerns that some who finished with grades 1 to 3 would be ‘written off’.

The Department for Education said: ‘Exams are an essential part of ensuring that young people have acquired the knowledge and skills they need, but should never be at the expense of a young person’s wellbeing.’