At Ponteland High School, the proportion of students achieving Grade 5 or better in English and Maths was 60 per cent and 81 per cent received Grade 4 or better in English and Maths, up nine per cent from last year.
Headteacher Kieran McGrane explained that the Centre Assessment Grades (CAGs) that have been used for the results are a detailed process that initially starts with a teacher assessment and rank order at a class level.
This starting point then had to be reviewed at a subject-wide level by curriculum leaders to ensure that recommended grades were consistently applied by teachers across all classes (within that subject) and an overall rank order agreed.
The next stage was for senior leaders to review subject level data in light of historical performance in that subject over the last three years to ensure that the final grades were broadly in line with previous performance.
He added: “This summer has proved to be a very anxious time for our Year 11 students following the cancellation of their GCSE exams.
“This will have only heightened as they watched the debacle surrounding the release of A-level grades.
“I am pleased that CAGs are being used to award final grades to our students, and not the blunt tool of Ofqual’s statistical standardisation model and algorithm, as I feel this is the fairest decision under the circumstances.
“The main difference between the algorithm and CAGs is that we have been able to account for individual prior attainment of students to offer a more nuanced and accurate final grade.
“Staff have acted professionally in order to arrive at grades we feel are justified and fair. I know that not everyone will be completely satisfied with their results, but I hope that the awarded grades allow all of our students to progress to their next destination.
“We know that our Year 11 cohort has been a brilliant year group and we have been predicting for some time that they would achieve better results than any previous year group.
“If applied, the algorithm would have limited their successes due to the historical performance of previous year groups, whereas the CAGs have enabled us to reflect the potential and high expectations we have always had for this cohort.
“We look forward to welcoming the vast majority of our students back to our Sixth Form as indications are that more are considering this option than might have been the case before the pandemic.
“This is very pleasing as I know this will be a great option for them.”
The final confirmed grades awarded by the exam boards are based on the highest grade between the students' CAGs and the calculated grade determined by Ofqual.
Students at King Edward VI School in Morpeth have once again achieved excellent results.
Headteacher Clare Savage said: “Congratulations to our Year 11 students for your hard work over the last three years here, and particularly for how well you have handled the last few months.
“We know it has not been easy for them, but they have done fantastically well to get through such a difficult period of uncertainty.
“As a school community, we are proud of their efforts and achievements and look forward to welcoming the majority of them back into our Sixth Form (we still have space for September – see our website for details).
“We wish all our students all the best in their future endeavours and look forward to hearing of their future successes.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all staff and parents on behalf of all our students for all the support they have given them, particularly over the last few months.”
Year 11 lead Caroline Stephen added: “When school partially closed so abruptly back in March, my final words to Year 11 at the time were ‘go out there and be the very best versions of you’. Over the last few months, the students have shown this unreservedly.
“They have helped each other through very confusing, and often sad, times.
“This year has been very different for all of us in education, but the class of 2020 have much to be proud of, including this set of excellent results.
“Well done Year 11. I could not be more proud of you as accomplished students; resilient, curious, respectful, caring, motivated and responsible individuals.”
As for the county as a whole, Northumberland County Council’s director of education Dean Jackson said: “As I said last week for A-level results, and I stand by it for this week's GCSE results, our students have shown great determination and strength over the last few months.
“Unable to complete their final GCSE year in a school setting, moving to a virtual world and not being able to sit their exams as planned must have been an unusual experience to say the least, but you have come through it and now you can look towards your future – whether you seek to move on to Sixth Form, college or take a more vocational route through an apprenticeship.”