COLLEGE students across Hartlepool and East Durham are celebrating an impressive set of A-Level results.
Nationally the A-level pass rate has dropped for the first time in more than 30 years according to official figures but the number of exams handed the very highest grades has risen.
It was a similar picture in Hartlepool and education chiefs have put it down to students not being given the chance to re-sit exams in January after a change to the national exam structure.
But there was still plenty to cheer about at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, Hartlepool College of Further Education and colleges in East Durham too.
At Hartlepool Sixth Form College, in Blakelock Road, the overall pass rate was 99 per cent, a slight dip from the 99.8 per cent secured last year.
There was, however, a rise in the number of students achieving top star grades - A*, A and B grades - from 210 last year to 298 this time round.
Carole Horseman, acting principal, said: “We are all delighted with these results.
“The number of top grades has increased from 210 last year to 298 which means that more students can access places at top universities.
“Our students can be proud of their achievements and I wish them every success for the future.”
It was also a poignant day for Mrs Horseman, who is retiring today after a career spanning 37 years at the college where she actually studied as well.
Mrs Horseman, who has been a director of faculty, assistant principal and vice-principal as well, said: “This is a lovely way to finish, seeing the smiles on the faces of the students.”
New principal Alex Fau-Goodwin will be in charge at the college from September.
Delighted students at English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, in Catcote Road, were also celebrating an excellent set of results with an overall pass rate of 98 per cent, again a slight drop on last year’s effort of 99 per cent.
School bosses say it is hard to compare the past two academic years because of the changes to the system and the scrapping of the January exams but they were still pleased with this year’s results.
Michael Lee, headteacher at the school, said: “Well done to all students who have worked hard for these results.
“The fact that 45 per cent of all grades are at A*, A or B is a testament to the efforts of our staff and students.”
Head of sixth form Colette Hogarth said students should be “congratulated on their fantastic achievements”.
Hartlepool College of Further Education, in Stockton Street, recorded an overall pass rate of 95 per cent - up on the last few years - while students doing A-levels in English Language, psychology, history, art and design and media studies recorded a 100 per cent pass rate.
College chiefs say they are delighted with the set of results, while students have also done well in a new set of experimental statistics published this week by the Government.
For the first time the Government has published employment and destination outcomes for all adults aged 19 and over in learning at colleges and learning providers.
The FE College secured a ‘positive destination rate’ of 82 per cent against a national average of 77 per cent and 63 per cent of adults who trained at the college found “sustainable employment - against a national target of 61 per cent.
College Principal Darren Hankey said: “The A Level results and the outcomes of the Government’s new measure of success for adult learners are most pleasing.
“The importance of the role that the College can play in the lives of both young people and adults following further and higher education to advance career opportunities or secure employment cannot be overestimated.”
Labour councillor Chris Simmons, chairman of the council’s children’s services committee, said: “Early indications would suggest that this year’s A Level results are very positive.
“I would like to congratulate all A Level students on their results and wish them every success for the future.
“It’s also important to acknowledge the excellent work of our colleges and the support from parents in helping students to achieve.”
Meanwhile, at East Durham Sixth Form, known as ED6, achieved a highly impressive 98 per cent pass rate.
ED6 was set up two years ago by East Durham College, in Willerby Grove, Peterlee, to offer local students an alternative to having to travel out of the area to study A Levels, making this the first ever group of A level students and results.
At Byron College, in Peterlee, staff say they are “delighted” with the results after more than half of students achieved 2 or more A* to B grades, while 100 per cent achieved two or more A* to E grades. The college itself achieved 71 per cent of grades at A* to B.