STUDENTS have shone on GCSE results day despite an overhaul which saw exams become much harder.

More than 700,000 teenagers received their GCSE results yesterday, amid claims some exams were too hard.

Students from Ormiston Rivers Academy in Burnham eagerly awaited their envelopes.

GCSEs in England have been overhauled in recent years to make them tougher and a new numerical nine-to-one grading system has been introduced.

The new grading scheme - with 9 the highest grade and 1 the lowest - was brought in alongside a new GCSE curriculum in England.

Three number grades, 9, 8 and 7, correspond to the old-style top grades of A* and A - this is designed to give more differentiation at the top end.

Ormiston Rivers was very proud of its Year 11s, who received a total of 50 grade 9 marks in this year’s exams, as well as 61 Distinction* or A* grades.

The percentage of students achieving grades 9 to 5 in both English and maths has increased by five per cent compared to last year.

Outgoing principal Joan Costello said: “I am absolutely delighted to see the continued successes of our students.

“Their well-deserved results are testament to their hard-work, dedication and commitment.

“These results are particularly pleasing as this cohort had an extremely difficult start to their Year 11, but have shown great tenacity, support and community spirit to overcome adversity and achieve these outstanding results.”

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Oliver Beales, 16, from Crown Way in Southminster is already planning for a career as a science teacher.

He scored a 7 in science, 6 in maths, 5 in English language, 6 in religious studies, a Distinction in design and technology and an A in business studies.

He said: “I’m very happy, I expected a lot worse.

“I think it is that thing all students do, you walk out and expect to fail, but thankfully I did well.

“It was a horrible experience. It was full-on all the time, there was little to no break and it was mental the whole way through."

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Oliver plans to stay on at sixth form where he will study chemistry, maths and English literature.

Emily Gallagher, 16, from Burnham laughed in surprise.

She received a 9 in biology and religious studies, 8s in maths and geography, 7s in English, chemistry and physics, 6 in Spanish and an A* in food and cookery and financial studies.

She said: “I was targeted to get 5s across the board in my GCSEs, so to see this is amazing, I cannot actually believe it.”

Emily has aspirations of making a move into medicine after she finishes sixth form.

She would like to study radiology in the future.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Oliver Rivers, 16, had grade 9s across the board in five subjects as well as an A in financial studies and Distinction* in media studies.

He said: “Now I have these results I’m thinking of coming back to Ormiston Rivers for A-levels.

“I would like to then head off to do languages or maths at university.”

Oliver now plans to study French, maths, geography and drama.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Among the top performers was talented athlete Jamie Rashbrook, 16, from Burnham.

He achieved grade 9s in five subjects as well as a grade 8 in English, 7 in French and an A* in financial studies.

He has taken home medals at national and county-wide athletics championships.

Jamie hopes to attend Westcliff High School for Boys where he plans to study maths, history, geography and politics.

He said: “I’m feeling happy with the 9s, a little disappointed with a few of the other results but very happy with what I have as a whole.

“It has been a stressful few years, there was a lot of pressure but I have had so much support from my parents and teachers.”

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Paul Healy, head of school, was very proud of his students.

Mr Healy said: “When you consider the journey this academy has been on and our progress to become one of the top in the county, I’m just so happy for these young people

“They have worked so hard, got everything they deserve and they have been backed up by such superb staff who work so hard.”

Mr Healy was extremely proud to see his pupils achieve 50 grade 9s in this year’s results, with the school touting their 2019 Year 11 class as the highest performing ever.

He said: “The grade 9 is such an elite grade, it’s like an A* and more, if you convert it from the old system.

“To be hitting that grade you are getting everything in the exam correct.

“It is not only a testament to the quality of teaching but the work of these young people.

“We’ve created some very well rounded young people, the culture here is nurture and support them, but with academic success built into that.

“They are not mutually exclusive, we have shown year on year this can be done, and this is our best ever set of results.

“We are continuing to show that is possible.”

Nationally, head teachers say some lower-attaining pupils have been so demoralised they refused to sit the exams.

England’s exams regulator insists it is keeping standards the same over time.

Across the UK there has been a slight increase in the GCSE pass rate and the percentage of top grades this year.

The pass rate edged up to 67.3 per cent - up 0.4 percentage points on last year.

The percentage of papers given a top grade (7 and above) rose 0.3 percentage points to 20.8 per cent on 2018.