HARD-working Barnsley students have continued the borough's long run of improvement by soaring to record success in their GCSEs.
Barnsley pupils clinched an overall pass rate of 53 per cent for five A* to C grades - a leap of four per cent on last year and an 18 per cent rise in the last five years.
It is the first time the borough has smashed the 50 per cent barrier.
High schools across the borough posted big jumps in students attaining at least five A* to C grades. Dearne High had the biggest increase - an 18 per cent rise to 54 per cent of pupils.
Others showing big increases were Wombwell High, up eight per cent, and Kingstone and Edward Sheerien, both up six per cent.
Meanwhile the new Wors-brough Academy, a Christian-run independent school which opened in September, notched up a 10 per cent improvement on the year before when it was still The Elmhirst.
Its 60.9 per cent score of children achieving five A* to C passes was one of the best in the borough and the best since records began at the Elmhirst in 1994.
Meanwhile Willowgarth High in Grimethorpe notched up a pass rate of 69 per cent - expected to be the best performance in Barnsley.
Willowgarth headteacher Anthony Loveday said there was a carnival atmosphere as happy children received their results in the summer sun.
Education director Edna Sutton said she was confident the rate of improvement in the borough would be maintained.
She added: "I am genuinely excited about the progress we're making in Barnsley.
"These results are down to the hard work of the people in the local authority, teachers, head teachers and school staff, and the excellent efforts of the pupils. I congratulate them all wholeheartedly."
Dave Berry, principal of Barnsley Academy, said: "We are all delighted and very proud of our students who have risen to the challenge that we set them in our first year as an academy.
"These results will be a spur to students in lower years as to the standards we are expecting in the future and as a marker of what is possible. This also represents a huge team effort from all of the staff - teachers and non-teachers - who have worked very hard to make today's outcomes possible."
Coun Linda Burgess, cabinet education spokeswoman, said: "For the first time ever, Barnsley has surpassed the 50 per cent mark. This is a tremendous achievement for all the schools and pupils involved, and on top of the fantastic Key Stage 2 and 3 results announced earlier this year, show the great strides in educational attainment that we are making in this borough."
two new City Academies produced their first sets of exam results today - with significant increases seen in GCSE pass rates.
Sheffield Springs Academy and Sheffield Park Academy took over the old Myrtle Springs and Waltheof comprehensives a year ago.
The number of pupils at Springs, close to the Arbour-thorne estate, achieving five good GCSE passes has doubled this year, up from 15 to 30 per cent.
At Park on the Manor the pass rate climbed by 10 per cent to a 38 per cent pass rate.
More students also achieved five good passes including English and maths - up from 10 to 19 per cent at Springs, and up from 11 to 19 per cent at Park.
The Academies, run by Christian charity the United Learning Trust, have come under fire from some critics who say they are not accountable to local communities and receive significantly better funding than similar schools run by local authorities.
New buildings are under construction on both campuses, with students due to move in early next year.