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Hard work pays off for Islington’s GCSE pupils

What’s the most important thing here? asks head as concerns for the mental health of students are raised amid exam changes

24 August, 2018 — By Emily Finch, Samantha Booth

Students from Arts and Media School Islington

AFTER a long summer of waiting, there were tears of joy – and some of disappointment – for Islington’s GCSE students yesterday (Thursday).

Students at schools across the borough found out their grades – most now scored from 9 to 1 following exam reforms.

The new tests – which have less coursework – began last year and will continue to be phased in across subjects until 2020. They are said to be tougher and critics nationwide have raised concerns about their impact on teenagers’ mental health.

Emma Dimitra Aarts, 16, from Finsbury Park received the best grades at St Mary Magdalene Academy and perhaps in the country.

“I worked quite hard,” she said, and was rewarded for her hard work at the school in Liverpool Road with a royal flush of grade nines – equivalent to A* – along with two A*s.

Fatima Osman from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School

She said that she took every exam “seriously” and added: “The last few months have been a bit of a blur.”

Adebusola Alagbe, 16, said she was feeling “happy” with her exam results after passing 10 of them. Her top grade was in English Language where she scored a grade 8. She said she is hoping to become a midwife.

Zachary Pearl, 16, was one of the top-performing boys at the school, achieving a grade 9 in French and grade 8s in History and Mathematics. He said: “I didn’t expect to do so well in French, I found it so difficult.”

Central Foundation Boys’ School students

Naomi Reading’s mother Carol was crying after finding out her daughter’s results. The 16-year-old received top grades in Drama and Food Technology and is hoping to become an optometrist.

Her mum said: “Naomi worked so hard. She was completely overwhelmed. I’m so proud of her.”

There were celebrations at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School. Fatima Osman had a smile on her face after finding out she had achieved six grade 9s, three A*s and 3As.

Adebusola Alagbe

The 16-year-old, from Holloway, said: “I had done a lot of hard work, I started revision from the beginning of the year really.”

Fifty per cent of year 11s at the all-girls school, in Donegal Street, where students begin their GCSEs in year 9, achieved six or more grade 7s or above – equivalent to A or A*.

Associate headteacher Sarah Beagley said there had been an increase in girls struggling to cope with exam pressure.

Emma Dimitra Aarts

She said: “I think that’s because of the way the exams are – it’s all examined at the end, you used to go into exams sometimes already having 40 or 60 per cent of it banked so you knew what you needed to do.”

She added: “We’ve definitely had to think a lot more about the whole exam season, several girls we’ve had to really pick up off the floor, had to sit exams separately, they’ve had to have real mentoring to get them through the whole process. That’s really hard to see. You have to ask yourself the question, what’s the most important thing here? Children’s mental health is really, really important.”

Jasmia Dyer, 16, achieved 6s and 7s and will be going to study dance at the famous BRIT School, in Croydon. She said: “The exams were really hard. I’ve always loved dance and I just want to perform and maybe choreograph.”

City of London Academy Highgate Hill’s Tomador Mohammed (left) and Shaily Roy

At Central Foundation Boys School, in Old Street, staff said pupils had achieved its highest ever percentage of top grades, with 34 per cent of all grades awarded being 7, 8 or 9.

Headteacher Jamie Brownhill said: “It has been challenging for students and teachers to take on these new GCSEs. They are all to be congratulated for their hard work that has resulted in them achieving some very good results.”

Evodie Tongomo and Caitlin Russell from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School

City of London Academy Highgate Hill was celebrating a 98 per cent GCSE pass rate, while all students studying music at the Arts and Media School Islington achieved 4 and above and 92 per cent achieved the same result in French.

Councillor Joe Caluori, the Town Hall’s education chief, said: “Our students this year have faced a double challenge – the big shift towards exams at the end of their courses, and a brand new grading system – so it’s all the more impressive that they have come out of it with flying colours.”



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