TENSION gave way to relief and delight as students across West Oxfordshire received their GCSE results.
Some pupils were visibly shocked, celebrating unexpected success when they found out their results on Thursday.
There were also more nerves than usual among headteachers, because of Government-ordered changes to the way the results are presented.
A school’s performance will now depend on a pupil’s first attempt at an exam, rather than resits being counted in official results.
Some headteachers refused to release the official results.
Wood Green School in Witney opened its doors at 10am for students to rush in and pick up their results.
Bethany Faulkner, of Eton Close, Witney, was one of the top-performing pupils, picking up six A*s, two As and a B.
She will now study biology, psychology, chemistry and German at A-Level, and wants to become a pharmacologist.
The 16-year-old said: “I’m very happy with the results. It was more than I expected. It took a lot of hard work and preparation.”
Niamh Walsh, 16, of Burford Road, Witney, got four A*s and five As. She will now study physics, maths, history and production design, with aspirations to be an architect or engineer.
Niamh said: “I felt such relief when I opened my results. It was a good feeling.”
The school did not release official figures, but its best results showed the number of pupils who got five A* to C grades in English and maths rose from 51 per cent to 65 per cent.
Headteacher Rob Shadbolt said: “After a disappointing couple of years, we introduced a number of new strategies to help pupils achieve their potential.
“I’m delighted that the efforts of students have been recognised and we’re very proud of them.
“The key priority us is to make sure our young people leave with the very best results they can.”
At Henry Box School in Witney 18 pupils achieved at least eight A* or As, including Sarah Chitson, 16, who got 12 A*.
The Aston resident, who writes student blogs for The Guardian, will study biology, chemistry, maths and geography at A-Level and wants to work in science or healthcare.
She said: “It was definitely better than I expected or had been predicted, it was a complete shock.”
Barney Martin, 16, from Standlake, got nine A*s and three As, and will study PE, English literature, biology and psychology.
He said: “I was quite nervous in the morning but I was so relieved.”
Henry Box headteacher Wendy Hemmingsley was relieved she could use a “best results ever” banner ordered in June.
The school, which only released official figures, as it does not offer resits, had a record 65 per cent of pupils – up one per cent on last year – achieving five A* to C grades in English and maths.
Mrs Hemmingsley said: “It doesn’t seem like the changes have affected us.
“Nationally, there’s a feeling that results will be down, so if ours are up on last year, then that puts the school in an even stronger position.”
Top-performing pupils at Henry Box School with headteacher Wendy Hemmingsley, back, centre
Seven pupils at Chipping Norton School achieved 10 A*s or As, with 29 getting five or more A*s or As. But there was a dip in pupils achieving five A*s to Cs, down from 65 per cent to 54 per cent.
Headteacher Simon Duffy said that English results were disappointing after speaking and listening marks were axed.
He added: “Although the headline figures are down, students have done well in key subjects and deserve congratulation for the work they have put in.”
Eight pupils at Marlborough School in Woodstock got at least eight A* or As.
But overall results were down, with the number of pupils achieving five A* to Cs including English and maths dropping from 70 per cent to 64 per cent.
Six pupils at Bartholomew School in Eynsham got at least 10 A*s or As, including Yasmin Gilders, who got 12 A*s.
Headteacher Andrew Hamilton said: “We’re really very pleased with the excellent GCSE examination results our students achieved this year, in spite of any external manipulation of exam grades.”
Emma Purvis at Burford School
The number of pupils at Burford School achieving five A*s to Cs in English and maths increased from 64 per cent to 70 per cent. A third (34 per cent) of grades were an A* or A, with Maggie Boyd achieving 12 A*s.
Headteacher Kathy Haig said: ‘These GCSE results are the best in the school’s history and reinforce Burford’s long-held reputation as a school with an outstanding academic record.
“For the seventh year in a row, our students have aimed higher and achieved more. This is impressive given the variability across the national picture.”
Cokethorpe School, in Ducklington, matched last year’s results, with 96 per cent getting five A*s to Cs including English and maths.
Headmaster Duncan Ettinger said: “This is a very pleasing set of grades, with a significant number of pupils receiving A*s.”