The sound of ripping paper echoed around Birmingham’s schools as thousands of students received their A level results.
While the city’s independent and grammar schools reported a predictable rise in those earing top grades, there was much to celebrate at its state-run secondary schools, where a significant number of pupils gained multiple A grades.
At Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls, three pupils - Sarah Hogson, Menah Modi and Sarah Nash - received five A grades at A level, while 18 pupils received four A grades in their chosen subjects.
Arthur Terry School, also in Sutton Coldfield, also reported a marked increase in the number of A and B grades awarded, up by seven per cent to 35 per cent with the average point score up from 741 to 750 points per student.
Neighbouring Plantsbrook School recorded its best ever results with a pass rate of 97 per cent and an average point score of 818, which makes it one of the top-performing non-selective schools in Birmingham.
Students began arriving at Small Heath School and Sixth Form from 7.45am, eager to learn their fate. Among them were head girl Polly Begum who gained four A grades and is set to read medicine at Birmingham University, and head boy Amir Hussain, who earned three As plus an A at A/S level. He will become the first boy to go on to study medicine from the school.
Melanie Tyrrell, the school’s assistant head teacher, said: “We are particularly please with the results this year as they are exceptional.
“This is due to the outstanding teaching, determination of students and the support of parents, which is a real formula for success. We would like to congratulate all students on their well deserved success today.
“It is really nice to see students at Small Heath who have met the challenge of further education, who may have not have had a similar opportunity elsewhere, and have now gone on to have brighter futures.”
At King Norton Boys’ School having the right name seemed to garner success, as two boys called Daniel earned three or more A grades.
Daniel Greaves, received four top grades in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics as well as a C in general studies, while Daniel Green gained As in biology, government and politics, PE and general studies.
Deputy head Peter Nicholds revealed the number of pupils gaining As and Bs has more than doubled since last year. In 2007 just 21 pupils received those grades, but this year 56 were awarded As and Bs.
He said: “All our students gained at least 2 A Levels and the vast majority getting three, four or even five good grades.
“We’ve seen significant improvements across most subjects but particularly in biology, PE, chemistry and English, which we’re incredibly pleased and proud of.
“We congratulate all our students and wish them every success as they move onto their future lives.”
As the row over whether vocational qualifications share the same educational value as A levels continues, a student at Hillcrest School, in Bartley Green, scooped three distinctions national diploma exams.
Sarah Kennedy, who took the national diploma in Early Years, earned a trio of top grades after completing work placements, course works and exams.
The school also achieved a 99 per cent pass rate at grades A to E among its 42 A level students, with 16-year-old Meng Wan gaining an A grade in Chinese. She will find out how she faired in her 14 GCSEs next week.
* A group of eager A-level students from Birmingham stole a march on the rest of the country – after turning up at midnight to get their results.
Abbey College in St Paul’s Square took the unprecedented step of opening its doors on the stroke of midnight to students who could not wait to find out how they had done.
A spokesman for the non-selective private college said: “Students have waited weeks to get their results and we didn’t see why they should wait until 9am or 10am.”
Abbey College, which focuses on students entering the medical, legal, and business professions, reported a “significant improvement” in this year’s A-level results.
Retakes saw a 55 per cent pass rate at A grade, 80 per cent A-Bs and 94 per cent A-Cs, while first time students achieved 20 per cent As and more than 50 per cent A-Bs.
As the rest of the country’s students opened their results, a familiar cry went up that the exams are getting easier.
The A-level pass rate has been improving for 26 years in a row with a further rise expected this year to more than 97 per cent of entries.
oseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College in Highgate also had its best ever results with 19 subjects achieving 100 per cent pass rates and a record number going on to university, including four going to Cambridge.
Principal Lynne Morris said: “I should like to congratulate all of our students who have worked so hard to achieve such excellent results.”
The success story continued at Solihull College which recorded its best ever A-level results with a 100 per cent pass rate in 12 subjects, including maths and chemistry.
Four students achieved grade A in three or more subjects which included accounting, biology, law and business studies.
That came as pupils at Bromsgrove School achieved a record 87 per cent A and B grades, with 78 achieving three or more A grades.