GCSE Results Day 2022: Sheffield students thrive despite two years of unprecedented pressure

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What a resilient bunch this year’s GCSE students have proven to be.

This year’s graduating GCSE students had their world turned upside down as much – if not more – than the rest of us two years ago.

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GCSE Results Day 2022 in pictures: Sheffield Y11 students celebrate hard earned ...

They spent their Key Stage Four trapped at a desk at home, cut off from their friends when they should have been making memories, and were told to focus on the computer screen or lose out forever.

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Students at Newfield School in Sheffield collected their GCSE results todayStudents at Newfield School in Sheffield collected their GCSE results today
Students at Newfield School in Sheffield collected their GCSE results today

Schools were told to expect lower grades than the record highs of 2021.

And naysayers grumble that this year’s cohort had advance information of what ‘could’ have been on the exam, so results count for less.

And yet, Sheffield’s schools have bucked the trend.

Final grades are still being tallied, but the Steel City’s students have, in some places, done even better than ever.

Newfield School, Hinde House Academy and Stocksbridge School have all excitedly reported that this year’s grades are some of, if not the, best in their history.

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One high-flying Newfield pupil, Hannah Boudaja, who went away today with a 7 in English Literature and an 8 in French, said: “This has been amazing, I’m so happy.

“I was expecting the worst today. It’s been very stressful over the past two years but everyone has been so supportive at school.”

Another pupil, Eliza Lovely, who earned a 9 in both English Literature and Religious Studies, said: “I think people don’t understand the pressure of the past two years. For example, getting the advance information made me feel like I needed to do better.

“Home studying was quite difficult. I think I really struggled to focus personally, but I managed to find the motivation.”

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High Storrs School said their assembly hall was filled with ‘shrieks of joy’ as 93 per cent of their students achieved eight or more passes, and nine out of 10 pupils took home a grade 4 or higher in both English and Maths.

Meadowhead built on their upgrade to a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating this year to see a record number of 9s across all subjects, and high pass rates were seen at King Ecgbert, Wales High School, and Hinde House, which in particular had a fifth of pupils pick up a 7 or higher in Maths.

And, at Birkdale School, three in 10 results came back at Grade 9, and nearly half of all results were at 8 or 9.

Birkdale School head Peter Harris echoed the sentiments of many of the city’s principals, who stuck up for their students against the national reports that grades had dipped.

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He said: “Congratulations to our pupils on an excellent set of GCSE results across the school which have been achieved despite the extremely difficult circumstances faced over the past two and a half years.

“The achievements show the fortitude and resilience of our pupils, the innovation of our teachers and staff, and the support of our wider family in limiting as much as possible the impact of the pandemic on their education.”

And it has been a difficult set of circumstances for the nation’s GCSE students, much the same as our A Level graduates shared on their results day last week.

The Department for Education again released an advisory note ahead of today that grades would dip compared to the records set in 2021, when marks were handed out by teachers based on long-term assessments.

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It was balanced against assurances that grades nationwide were better than what were seen in the last exam season in 2019 – but pupils this year said they still felt like older generations were looking at them like they had something to prove.

Students told The Star how frustrating it was that they felt older generations might look down on their results and think they were less ‘earned’.

Indeed, these judgments have not been helped by measures by the DfE and Ofqual to welcome back exams, including advance notice of what might be on exams – something some students feel has been held against them.

There is also national anger at the ‘north-south divide’ in grades once again.

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A report from The Guardian shows that Yorkshire & The Humber came bottom out of England’s regions for the gross percentage of its results coming in at Grade 7-9.

In fact, where London schools report how, on average, 33 per cent of their grades were a 7-9, Yorkshire and the Humber came in at 23 per cent.

It means this gap has increased from 7.9 per cent in 2019 to 10.2 per cent this year.

At Newfield School today, Romany Watson said: “This school, it pushes you to your limit. I never thought I would get my English and I’ve got it.

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“That only happened because they pushed me to put in extra hours. I missed out on PE and other lessons to do it, which I didn’t like at the time. I told myself there was no point and I wouldn’t get it, but I’ve passed today because they pushed me.”

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