‘Shifting exam goalposts’ failed to deter two friends from achieving eight A* grades-a-piece at Caroline Chisholm School in Northampton on GCSE results day.
Hundreds of expectant pupils filled the atrium of the Wooldale Road school in Wootton from around 9am this morning to tear open their results envelopes.
Today marked the end of an anxious summer for pals Jenna Coetzee and Becky Stent - who were both relieved to find they had outdone all their expectations.
Jenna, 16, of Wootton Fields was thrilled to take A* grades in eight subjects including maths, science and English as well as three A grades.
She said: “I certainly didn’t expect to get an A* in Spanish as well. I was just so happy.”
But with changes to GCSEs this year including the downgrading of coursework and a clampdown on resits by only including a pupil’s first attempt in official league tables, the teenager said this year has been a challenge.
Jenna said: “I just had to focus more because I knew I would only get the one shot at this.”
Her friend Becky Stent, 16, also from Wootton Fields, also took an impressive eight A*s and is now looking forward to starting AS-levels in maths, English language, chemistry, biology and psychology.
But as for future plans, the top pupil is keeping her options open.
“I know I still definitely want to go to university,” she said. “But that’s all I know. I was so nervous about this morning I didn’t sleep at all.”
Not all pupils receiving their GCSE results today had eyes on the sixth form.
Kallum Pagano, 16, of Grange Park, is soon to start a scholarship at Northampton Saints Rugby Club following successful trials there over the summer.
The budding prop forward, who plays for Towcester Rugby Club under 17s, dreams of one day donning the green and black Saints jersey.
He said: “I’ve been playing rugby for around 11 years - this is a real achievement for me, it’s going to be amazing.”
Principal Tony Downing said the school is still counting its official grade figures, but added early indications suggest the school had done well.
On the reforms he said: “Our feelings for this year is that we were having to cope with a situation where the rules were changing while the course was underway.
“For the pupils that meant some very demanding exams earlier in the year and they had to get used to some shifting goalposts as the course went along.”