A-Level Results Day: Thursday, 13 August 2015
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North East tops national A-Level pass rate

Well done to all schools in the North East and their students for the fantastic A-Level results achieved today, SCHOOLS NorthEast would like to congratulate everyone for their hard work and success.

Our region ranks first nationally, with the highest pass rates of 98.5%. This has remained unchanged since 2014, when the region saw an increase of 0.4 percentage points in the number of pupils obtaining a pass at A-Level since 2011. There was a small dip in grade A achievement (of 0.1%), mirroring the national picture. 

While the region has the highest overall pass rate, it still lags behind other regions for the top grades. Below are the figures for each region, provided by the Joint Council for Qualifications.  

New trends in subject take-up

Mathematics saw a 20% rise in entries since 2010 due to the Government's drive to ensure more pupils take up core academic subjects through the introduction of the EBacc performance measure, said the Department for Education.

However, since 2014 Maths saw a 4.4% increase. A greater rise was seen for Computing entries, up by 29.1% since last year only, Geography up by 12.7% and English literature up by 7.1%. The drop in non-facilitating subjects is said to be due to the universities' focus on core academic subjects. 

In the North, the most popular subject at A-Level was by far General Studies (almost 50% take-up), with Communication Studies at the other end of the spectrum, ranking as the least favourite at less than 10% entries. This is the exact opposite of statistics for the South, where Comms ranked at the top (nearly 60%) and General Studies not managing to reach the 20% mark. 

North-South divide for pass rates and top grades?

SCHOOLS NorthEast Director Mike Parker commented on the results released today, saying: "Schools are reporting fantastic individual achievements which are testament to the hard work of pupils and teachers alike. While the overall pass rate success and the performance against many other regions has been good, there remains a gap between the North East and the top-performing regions. "

The Independent picked up on the topic, reporting that the A-Level results this year reveal a North-South divide: while the North East has the highest overall pass rate, it has the lowest proportion of A and A*s, with the reverse being true for southern regions. 

Wider comment

Russell Hobby, NAHT General Secretary:  â€œwe congratulate everyone receiving A-Level results today, and commend students, teachers, school leaders and parents for their hard work and support throughout the year.

“One area of concern is the continuing gradual decline in entries to modern foreign languages. NAHT has repeatedly challenged the government for a national strategy to address this. 

“The circumstances against which these results have been achieved become more challenging as each year passes. The survey by the Sixth Form Colleges' Association (SFCA) indicates the mounting financial pressures faced by institutions providing post-16 education. NAHT urges the government, in its forthcoming review of post-16 providers, to acknowledge that school sixth forms also face severe and increasing financial pressures...” Continue reading .

Michael Trobe, ASCL Deputy General Secretary: “Congratulations to all the students and teachers who have worked so hard to produce this year’s set of results and the very best of luck to all those young people now heading to the next stage in their lives.

“It is disappointing to see a decline in the number of entrants for some subjects. All of these subjects are important in their own right for a range of students, but they generate smaller classes. In the current financial climate, in which 16-19 education funding has been severely cut, this makes it more difficult for schools and colleges to offer these subjects because they simply cannot afford the teachers for smaller groups of students.

“We are extremely concerned that this year’s A level and AS level figures show an emerging pattern which reflects a decrease in ..." Continue reading .

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary: â€œCongratulations must go to young people and their teachers who have worked so hard to deliver yet another excellent set of results

“It is clear that standards have been maintained across the board and credit for that must go to teachers who have, yet again, pulled out all the stops to ensure that young people are supported to achieve their best.

“It should be noted that teachers have achieved these results against a backdrop of savage cuts to..." Continue reading

Nansi Ellis, Assistant General Secretary of ATL: "We congratulate students and teachers on today's well-deserved AS and A-level results.

"Although this year's results are stable, this is unlikely to be the case when the A-level reforms kick in and all A-levels are only assessed by end of course exams.

"Cuts in Government funding for post-16 education could result in fewer A-level courses being available, particularly in more vocational subjects such as design and technology and ICT, and is likely to mean that..." Continue reading

University admissions

With Chancellor George Osborne announcing that the government will be scrapping maintenance grants for lower income students starting September 2016, universities have brought out an array of incentives to entice applicants.

Even so, statistics revealed by the university admissions body UCAS placed the North East bottom of the list, with 31.1% rate of applications made by the 4 January deadline this year. But with the removal of the cap on student recruitment, university places were yet again referred to as a 'buyer's market'. 

North East success stories

Many schools in the North East have shared their success stories with SCHOOLS NorthEast, and revealed the names of several outstanding pupils who have already secured their places at prestigious universities, such as Cambridge and Oxford. We invited many schools to share their results, here are the success stories we have received:

Longbenton Community College achieved an improvement in A-Level grades from last year, with 19% A*-A and 38% A*-B grades. The overall pass rate reached 94%. The college's average points score per student has risen since last year, as has the average points score per entry. 

Ponteland High School also revealed an increase in their average point score per student and, overall, achieved a 30% rate of A*-A grades, up significantly from last year (23%). Over 40% of students gained A*-B grades.These are the best ever A-Level results for the school. Many students have secured places at top universities, with four of them going to Oxbridge from September. 

Wolsingham Sixth Form achieved their best ever results as well, contributing to a four year trend of improvement. Students gained the highest average points per student and per course, exceeding last year's national average for the latter. Outstanding vocational results in 2014 were seen again this year - the average point score per entry being Distinction*. 

Benfield School had a fantastic pass rate that echoed the overal regional average (97%), with 26% of grades at A*-B. From a small Sixth Form of 45 leavers, 29 applied for higher education, with 28% going to Russell Group universities. The school also saw its first ever student to gain a place at Oxbridge, with Jed Marshall now heading to study Physics at Oxford University after scoring a A*s in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. 

Seaton Burn College congratulates James Thompson for his excellent results, achieving A*s in Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics, along with an A in Biology and a Distinction* in BTEC Music. He will be studying Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Sheffield. 

Conyers Sixth Form achieved its best ever A-Level results, with 61% of students obtaining three or more A*-B grades, and 14 students scored straight A*-A grades. This includes Andrew Camsell and Adam Dadvar who secured their places to study Chemical Engineering at Cambridge. The BTEC results did not disappoint either, with five candidates achieving three Distinction * grades in Engineering. 

St Anthony's Girls Catholic Academy celebrates A*-A grades for over a quarter of all entries for the forth year running, and 50% of pupils scoring top grades of A*-B. 19 students (16%) achieved three or more A*-A grades or equivalent. 

Durham Johnston School pupils' excellent A level results marked yet another year of fantastic academic and personal achievements, with 15 students taking up offers of places at Oxford or Cambridge, or will begin a course in medicine. While some school leavers chose higher education, others will move straight into the workplace or apprenticeships, including one for the BBC. 

Royal Grammar School achieved a fantastic 25.4% rate of A* grades, with an outstanding 83% of their pupils achieving grades ranging between A*-B. An impressive 15 students achieved straight A*s and another 35 achieved all A* or A grades. 

We were over the moon reading these success stories and sharing them with our readers across the region, so please send in your school's exam success stories and any other news by emailing

Quick Links

North East top for overall A-Level pass rate – SCHOOLS NorthEast comment (Northumberland Gazette)
Relive the moment students across Newcastle and the North East pick up their results (ChronicleLive)
Best pals at Newcastle school prepare to go on to study in same city (ChronicleLive)
Students at Cramlington shine despite Ofsted rating of school (ChroncleLive)
Durham student awarded £30,000 scholarship after picking up top results (ChronicleLive)
Emmanuel College celebrates best ever A level results during its 25th anniversary year (ChronicleLive)
North Tyneside students celebrate best ever A-level results (ChronicleLive)
Teachers have secured 'remarkable results' against backdrop of cuts (ChronicleLive)
Number of top A-level grades dips for fourth year in a row (ChronicleLive)
Smiling faces across the North East as students celebrate exam success (ChronicleLive)
Newcastle high school celebrates sending its first ever pupil to Oxbridge (ChronicleLive)
Newcastle's teens chose Australia as top of the gap year wish list (ChronicleLive)
Joy as 98% of Sunderland students pass A-Levels (Sunderland Echo)
Celebrations across Teesside as students collect results (GazetteLive)
'Proud' ex-Boro boss Steve McClaren joins son Josh for A level celebrations in Yarm (GazetteLive)
Top marks for Hartlepool colleges as A-level results revealed (Hartlepool Mail)
Delight and shock as Hartlepool students find out A-level results (Hartlepool Mail)
New East Durham College A-Level courses see success (Hartlepool Mail)
Star Hartlepool student spearheads success for art and design college on results day (Hartlepool Mail)
Peterlee students set out on next stage of their education after picking up A-Level results (Hartlepool Mail)
South Tyneside girls celebrate A-level success (Shields Gazette)
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