It may have been a mixed picture overall, but there was still plenty for individual teenagers to celebrate as they opened their GCSE results on Thursday.
While two schools, the King’s Lynn Academy and Springwood High School, were delighted to announce record pass rates, others blamed tougher marking standards for falls in their top grades.
But, despite the general consensus that assessments were more stringent this year, individual pupils from every school in West Norfolk still produced some outstanding results.
Among the success stories were Hannah Hodges, of North Runcton, who achieved 11 A* grades at Swaffham’s Sacred Heart School.
She said: “I was exceptionally pleased. I didn’t think I’d be able to achieve that but it’s a great way to end all the hard work of the last two years.
“I would say that discipline and priorities leading up to the exams were important. I did a lot of revision on my own but also attended some of the school’s revision sessions and worked with friends to break it up a bit. I tried to keep it balanced and still have fun as well.”
Hannah is now planning to join the King Edward VII sixth form, in Lynn, to study for her A-levels in English Literature, Music, French and Philosophy and Ethics.
Top scoring pupils at Smithdon High School, Hunstanton, included Lydia Davidson, with seven As and three Bs and Joe Dean, with six As and five Bs
And Megan Ashton, 16, of Ingoldisthorpe, achieved five As, five Bs and a C.
She said: “I couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone at Smithdon. I really started to struggle there and they really helped. When we left school to study before the exams all the work there was to do really got on top of me but I came back into school and they picked me back up.”
Ruth Fenton, 16, of Dersingham, got five Cs, two Bs and a D.
She said: “I thought I was going to get Cs in everything so I am really pleased.”
High achievers at the Marshland High School, in West Walton, included Jasmine Toweler, with two A*s, eight As and a B, Hannah Rand with 11 As and Ben Carter with an A*, seven As and two Bs.
At Methwold’s Iceni Academy the highest overall marks were achieved by Jacob Amacker, who gained eight A*s and one A.
He said: “I studied hard with help from all my teachers and I attended several of the after-school revision sessions which I found helpful. My favourite subject is maths.
“I am now looking forward to the challenge of A-level. I am studying Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths.”
Fergus Eyres, who achieved six A*s and two As, said: “My success is due to be being a student at Iceni Academy and the hard work I have put in individually.
“Maths has been my favourite subject at school. I am now going to study a Music Technology Course at Level 3.”
All of Downham Academy’s top performers said a Saturday school run by staff had helped.
Jess Wortley, 16, of Upwell, got one A*, seven As, two Bs.
He said: “I wasn’t expecting anything as good as what I got so I’m really happy. I put a lot of work in, went to the Saturday school and revised every night. I don’t even know what friends are anymore!”
Sophie Bellam, 16, of Downham, got three A*s and seven As and Suzie Flowers, 16, of Downham, got five A*s and five As.
King Edward VII pupil Ed Cumbley, 16, of Lynn, got eight As and two Bs.
He said: “I’m really happy. I was worried and nervous as it felt like a long wait.”
Springwood’s highest achiever Alex Kendal, 16, of Lynn, achieved 10 A* grades and an A.
He said: “I am ecstatic. I am so pleased. I know the exam boards marked harshly across the board so I was worried I might not get what I wanted.”
Alex will be returning to Springwood to study A-levels and hopes to be a teacher in the future.
Fakenham High School’s top achievers included Will Hey who got eight A*s and three As and Ben Johnson who got 11 A*s and one A.