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Black students' joy at GCSE success

ELATED: Park View School pupils collect their results

DESPITE A dip in the overall GCSE pass rate, according to exams regulator Ofqual, many black and minority ethnic students celebrate academic attainment.

Half a million Year 11 pupils opened their envelopes on Thursday August 24, following a switch to a new numerical grading system and tougher exams in England. It was the biggest exam reform in a generation.

In three of the core GCSE subjects - English, English Literature and Maths - a new top grade 9 has been created. Some 3.2% of papers were awarded this grade in English literature, 2.2% in English language and 3.5% in maths.

Exam boards revealed that 2,000 extremely able candidates got a 9 in all three new exams. There were 50,000 grade 9s overall - two-thirds of which were girls, highlighting that, once again, boys are underachieving.

Around two thirds of the pupils at Brixton-based Evelyn Grace Academy are from a black African or black Caribbean background. The Voice visited the premises on results day and spoke to many of its students, who were celebrating stellar exam results.

Visibly moved to tears of joy, Rugaya Solaiman gushed about her five 'A*'s, two 'A's and two 'B's.

“I don’t even know how to break it down. Even though I worked hard, I am just surprised at how well I did. The journey has been difficult. I struggled with English the most, out of all the subjects, because I generally find it hard and even more so, after the new specifications were brought in. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of my teachers.”

She will be studying A-Level Biology, Chemistry and Maths at the school’s sixth form with hopes of going on to study Medicine at university.

Beaming: Rugaya Solaiman from Evelyn Grace

Ariana Omoyi-Tsha, achieved six 'A's and three 'B's. She said:

“I am actually so overwhelmed. I struggled with a lot of the subjects. In year 10, I was getting 'D's and below, because I was distracted and kind of took school for a joke. But, by and by, I made the decision to do better and applied myself more.”

Hibo Yusuf breathed a blissful sigh of relief, having earned four 'A*'s, two 'A's and three 'B's:

“I am very happy. This doesn’t even feel real! I had to put a lot of effort in – I revised at home and at school.

Franchessca Nyame, with eight 'A's and a 'B', could barely contain her excitement.

“I cannot wipe this smile off my face, the amount of work I put into this. Considering that last year’s GCSE students done well but the assessments weren’t as hard as ours, the teachers were constantly drilling it into our heads how hard and difficult it’ll be. So, I knew from the get go that I had to start revising from January. I was staying up for ages, sleeping at the computing desk, I was doing the most and it paid off. I’m going to sixth form and, hopefully after that, I can get very good A-Levels in English Literature, Psychology and Sociology; and attend a Russell Group university. I’d love to pursue a career within Law.”

Kunmi Odesanya was one of the few boys, amid a sea of girls, who celebrated superb GCSE results with an 'A*', four 'A's and three 'B's. He massively exceeded expectations and was predicted to get much lower grades than he achieved.

“I am very pleased with my performance. The preparation for GCSE studying was difficult, I won’t lie to you. I’m glad it’s all over but it was worth it. I’m going to study Maths, Economics and Physics at A-Level. I was thinking of going into investment banking as a career, but I’m still making up my mind.”

HARD WORK: Kunmi Odesanya from Evelyn Grace Academy

Many other predominantly black and minority ethnic institutions are boasting impressive GCSE results.

32% of Thames Christian School pupils gained 'A*'-'A' grade overall and 83% at least one 'A*'/'A' grade. 78% gained 'A*'/'C', significantly above the national average.

Stephen Holsgrove, Head teacher, Thames Christian School commented:

“Parent's care deeply about their child’s education and so do we. At Thames each individual is educated according to their individual needs and strengths enabling our teachers to develop each pupil’s talents and inspire them to achieve.

“We are concerned with all aspects of our pupils’ lives: their behaviour; whether they show the right attitudes; how they respect others and relate to their friends; their achievements, not just academically, but also in the creative arts, sport and technology. This sets our pupils apart from other young people when competing for school places and jobs and is why almost all our pupils are offered places at their first choice of sixth form.”

Stoke Newington school, a community comprehensive establishment, has very strong GCSE results this year with 71% of students getting five 'A*' to 'C' (or equivalent) grades at 71%. The majority of this student body are from ethnic minority backgrounds, according to its most recent Ofsted report.

HUG IT OUT: Students congratulate eachother

Head teacher Annie Gammon said:

“We are very proud of our year 11 students – every one of them. We know that they are ambitious for their achievements; they worked hard and have been well taught and supported by our teachers. We continue to have excellent results in our creative subjects, as well as students achieving well in the fundamentals of Maths and English. We are really pleased with their success.”

Crispin Truman, Chair of Governors added:

“We are very pleased that students at our inclusive, community school are doing so well. We continue to achieve results which improve year on year and are well above national averages. We are particularly proud of the value added for every group of students: almost all our pupils make strong progress.”

On average, well over 75% of Stoke Newington school’s students achieved grades 4 to 9 in the core subjects. There were 39 new top level 9 grades in English or Mathematics – with 4 students gaining a 9 in both English and Mathematics.

A significant number of north London-based Park View School students have garnered ‘life changing’ results. According to its press release, many overcame personal struggles during their studies.

Donna and Kioni, who together achieved two grade 9s, one grade 8, one grade 7, one 'A*', four 'A's and six 'B's have both been awarded full scholarships through the Springboard Bursary Trust for Epsom College, fully funded for Years 12 and 13.

“When I saw my results, I was simply speechless and so overwhelmed” Kioni stated.

Donna added: “I was so relieved (…) and I’m so excited for the future.”

Ms Clarke, Assistant Head at Park View said:

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the girls, it is a true testament to their hard work and the work put in by all the teachers here at Park View.”

Ola and Targe, another two fellow students of the Class of 2017, achieved two grade 9s, one 8, two 7s, six 'A's and five grade 'B's, Park View and are said to be extremely proud of their results.

Both will now apply for the AMOS Bursary in December, a fund which provides unique opportunities and leadership programmes for outstanding British young men of African and Caribbean heritage.

BIGGER AND BETTER: Ola (right) and Targe from Evelyn Grace Academy show-off their grades

The number of students from minority ethnic backgrounds are much higher at Southwark based Ark Globe Academy, than in most average-sized schools, and the proportion of students who speak English as a second language is also above average.

This institution is also celebrating another prosperous end to the school year, with many pupils achieving excellent grades.

The Principal, Matt Jones, said:

“Students have performed exceptionally well and helped to achieve the best set of GCSE results the school has ever had. It’s great to see so many of our students excelling in their subjects. These excellent results have set them up for their further studies. Huge thank you to the staff and students for their hard work and making it possible.”

JUMPING FOR JOY: Ark Globe Academy students

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