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Looking back: Pupils’ pass successes in Sussex
In January 1997 students at two Sussex schools had their grades improved after an exam board admitted mistakes when marking papers.
Sixty-seven pupils at Beacon Community College, Crowborough, had their results in GCSE English Literature upgraded, which lead to the exam board being dropped by the school.
Furious head teacher Alison Banks said: “To have 67 marks upgraded because of mistakes is a lot. Only two year ago 37 Beacon candidates were upgraded in English after a battle with the exam board.
“We’ve now decided to change boards for a number of reasons, including these mistakes.”
Later The Argus printed a story that GCSEs faced being scrapped when the Government’s then chief examinat i o n s adviser suggested it would encourage students to stay in school until they were 18.
The suggestion by Dr Nick Tate was labelled “radical” but he pointed out that Britain was one of the few countries which still had external exams at the ages of 16 and 18.
Predictably, nothing changed, and in August that year one Cardinal Newman student opened her envelope to reveal nine A* grades and one A.
Elizabeth Williamson was among the thousands of Sussex teenagers to get their results at the national pass rate of 98.5%.
Peter Evans, head teacher at Cardinal Newman, said: “You don’t often get people like Elizabeth with an almost clean sweep.
“Our results are marvellous. It’s worth such a lot when you hear the shrieks of joy as the kids open their envelopes.”
It turned out that year that girls were achieving better results than the boys at both GCSE and A level in terms of passes in every subject.
West Sussex schools sub-committee was told in a report on the previous summer’s passes: “There are clear weaknesses emerging in the performance of boys even in subjects where they have traditionally done well.”
Former teacher Councillor Janet Sully said: “The figures clearly showthat boys are going backwards and that is a cause for real concern.”
In 1999 students were once again celebrating a record-breaking year with 55.8 per cent of Brighton and Hove pupils gaining A* to C grades with the pass rate up to 98 per cent from 97.7 per cent.
Lead councillor for education Pat Hawks said at the time: “The increase in pass rates is very encouraging.
“It proves the hard work of students, the dedication of teachers and the commitment of advisers in giving hands-on support to schools is paying off.”
A year later a nine-year-old maths whizz bagged an A* in his maths GCSE after sitting the exam seven years early.
Alexander Gordon-Brown spent the night before his exam watching Pokemon for four hours and still cruised the test.
His proud mumErica, of Farlington Close, Haywards Heath, said: “He is just a normal cheeky boy who happens to be brainy.”
ON THIS DAY
1950: British troops arrive in Korea to bolster the US presence there.
1965: Gemini V returns to Earth – two American astronauts splash down safely in the Atlantic after setting a
space endurance record.
1974: At least 220 people are arrested following disturbances at a rock festival in Windsor Great Park in Berkshire.
1986: Britain’s oldest twins both receive telegrams from the Queen.
1992: A protest march against right-wing attacks on refugees in Germany ends in violence after clashes with police.
2005: Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, lashing the city, cutting power and flooding homes.
The Argus’ popular “Looking Back” feature has been compiled into an A4, soft back book which catalogues the events that have made their mark on the people of Sussex. The fascinating archive of “Looking Back” images dates back to the 1930s when The Argus first started to print photographs. The book costs £6.99 including postage and packing. To order please visit theargus.co.uk/store
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