Students around the world celebrate GCSE and IGCSE success

International and independent schools offering British GCSE and IGCSE curricula are sharing fantastic news of school and individual performances. Besting 2019’s benchmark results, schools are tailoring education to both home and international students’ needs and future career paths.

Headington School students collect GCSE results
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This year’s return to standard summer GCSE examinations for 16-year-olds came with the understanding that grades overall would also be closer to 2019’s pre-pandemic results. Yet the hard work and dedication of students, teachers, schools and parents at international schools has paid off, with impressive outcomes at every level.

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All-round education for future international careers

In Singapore, which has a worldwide reputation for excellence in education and innovation, competition for international schools places is fierce. Highlighting why, British International Tanglin School’s GCSE and IGCSE students achieved a remarkable 59% A*/9. Almost every grade (99%) was grade A*-C (9-4).Highlighting the “skilful work of our staff, the huge potential of our students and the aspirational support of our parents," Chris Seal, Head of Senior School, said: “All indicators suggested a return to 2019 levels of attainment, but [this] is an extraordinary set of results in any year and significantly surpass those of 2019. Outcomes matter, but Tanglin’s outcomes are our people and now these students move on to the next stage of education filled with confidence, skills and knowledge that will serve them well.”Similarly, students at international K-12 day school Repton Abu Dhabi achieved an A*-C (9-4) pass rate of 97%, with 56% of exam entries at grades 9-7 (A*-A). Surpassing 2022’s results, 37% of exam entries awarded the maximum grade 9-8 (A*), in comparison to 30% in 2022. Steven Lupton, principal of Repton Abu Dhabi, said: “The outstanding results achieved in the 2023 GCSE examinations are a testament to continued efforts, commitment and passion of our students, teachers and wider school community. We are proud of their achievements, and I would like to congratulate them on the level of academic excellence displayed this year.”At sister international day and boarding school, Repton Dubai, students also achieved exceptional results, with 41% of students receiving 9-8 (A*) grades and 65% securing 9-7 (A*-A) grades, contributing to a joint overall student pass rate of 9-4 (A*-C) of a 97%.In Europe, other schools in the Cognita family were among those posting standout results, with 41% of GCSEs graded 7 or above and 62% A*-B.

UK independent and international schools' GCSE results

In the UK, Taunton School, an international co-educational day and boarding school, outperformed its own as well as national performance compared to 2019. Three students were among the 500 nationally to sit 10 GCSEs and achieve all grade 9s in a year when the number of 9s awarded dropped. Half (52%) of GCSEs awarded to Taunton School students were graded 9-7 – a “significant increase” on 2019. Four in ten students achieved all A grades (9-7), including Taunton’s international students, representing China, Azerbaijan, Russia and Germany.Congratulating students and staff, headmaster James Johnson said he was “extremely proud” of Year 11’s hard work and determination, adding: “Amongst the eye-catching, headline figures, we should always be mindful of the numerous examples of individual achievement and personal triumph, with many students celebrating grades that will have exceeded their expectations and serve as just reward for their perseverance.”Camilla Bryden, Head of Taunton School International, added: “It has been a challenging year for this cohort of international students who are suffering the unfortunate consequences of the lack of consistent education and social interaction due to the pandemic. They should be extremely proud of what they have achieved. All our staff should be congratulated for their efforts in supporting these students achieve their successes.”Another world-renowned British independent school in Somerset, Millfield, shared its academic as well as the many extra-curricular success stories of students, including those from Norway, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, India, Hong Kong. Ewan, a talented athelete from Norway, achieved eight 9s, one 8 and one 7. He is a Norwegian national-level freestyle and backstroke swimmer who was part of the relay team that won the British Summer Championships and broke the national record in the process.  “This year’s cohort have all shown incredible dedication, hard work to achieve today’s set of results,” said the school.  An hour away up the M5, Bristol’s Clifton College staff and students were also pleased with their individual and collective performance in their GCSE and Btecs. Almost a quarter of its GCSE results were grade 9 and 61% 9-7 across 31 different subjects.Closer to London and in the Home Counties, which attracted England’s highest proportion of top grades, Oxford’s all-girls Headington School picked up 32.9% grade 9s. Almost a quarter of GCSEs awarded to students were grade 7 or higher. These results again show the vitality of the UK’s independent and international schools sector and the determination and resilience of students and staff who have contended with pandemic disruption. Nena, student Head of Year 11, achieved three 9s and seven 8s, along with an A in her HPQ (Higher Project Qualification). She said: “I am feeling good, I’m just really grateful that I got to be here to do it. The English almost killed me, but I am really pleased!”In Birmingham, Hydesville Tower School's GCSE cohort achieved 45% grade 7 and above. While in Essex, students at Colchester Prep & High School secured 44% grade 7 and above.

Online grade collection on the rise - as well as grades

As well as the grade boundaries, how many students collected their results this year was influenced by the pandemic. Online result collection was a positive feature, with students getting together and supporting one another in ways enabled by their pandemic experiences; a valuable transferable skill for remote working in their future. At Headington, student Megan opened and celebrated her six 9s and four 8s online with a group of friends. She said: “Everyone was happy so it was really nice and we could all congratulate each other.”Expressing incredible pride in all the students, Headington School’s headmistress, Caroline Jordan, said: “They have worked so very hard and, perhaps more importantly, have supported each other throughout the process, working together collaboratively to share their knowledge and expertise. We have been so impressed by their work ethic, their sense of compassion and the way they have gelled as a year group, I can’t wait to see what fantastic things they will achieve in Sixth Form and beyond.”Online results collection was also a feature at high-performing Leighton Park in Berkshire, which offers British and IB pathways. Student Hamish was able to check his grades online. “The teachers have your back here, and my friends have been there for me which helps take my mind off the stress.” he reflected. Hamish was among a Leighton Park Year 11 cohort where over 48% of GCSEs awarded were 9-7 and 96% grades 9-4 against the national average of 68%. Youssef, who took his Arabic GCSE two years early was excited to have achieved a grade 9. Proud mum, Amal commented, “He’s very happy, he’s done so well!”Students at Headington sitting the Further Mathematics Standard Qualification (FMSQ) – an opportunity offered to every student in top-set maths – added 10 UCAS points to their achievements and the equivalent challenge of an AS level. They scored 75% A-B grades. The FMSQ is a popular option among Headington Students keen to follow careers and studies in STEAM subjects, which the school also supports outside the curriculum through the wide variety of trips and connections with industry.Head of Leighton Park School, Matthew Judd, said: “Once again it is marvellous to see so many young people fulfilling their potential and achieving some stunning grades. Sometimes the press can paint a picture of difficult outcomes, but our students have had brilliant results and are well set for both the International Baccalaureate and A Level/BTEC qualifications in our Sixth Form.”

International and career-focused pathways

In Cambridgeshire, King’s Ely School, internationally renowned for the creative arts, 100% of students secured grades 9-7 in music and Latin, and 100% of students achieving Grades 9-6 in drama and theatre, textiles, and fine art. Also receiving their results were the 30 international students who studied the one-year IGCSE programme at King’s Ely. Young people on this two-term intensive course study an average six subjects in their non-native speaking language. Here more than a quarter of results achieved were Grades 9-8.Announcing its 95% GCSE pass rate, King’s Ely gave a “special mention” to Allison, who achieved 9s in all seven of her GCSE subjects, including Spanish; her third language. Kevin, Alina, and David also achieved an average of Grade 8.8 across their GCSE subjects. Eighteen of King’s Ely’s IGCSE students are staying at the school for their A-Level studies.John Attwater, Principal of King’s Ely, said: “Every one of these results is a reflection of hard work and a return to exam conditions with no quarter given for the disruption these children faced in their education in Years 8 and 9. In this light, our cohort can be very proud of themselves that they have done at least as well as previous generations, and can look forward to their chosen Sixth Form studies with confidence. I am delighted that as term starts in September our Sixth Form will be full of such well-motivated and genuinely nice people, to be joined by others from all over the world seeking the King’s Ely experience.”GCSE studies at the Stephen Perse Foundation are also an opportunity to engage in a higher level of study prior to applying for university. Its students are encouraged to “gain new experiences and develop their skills through enriched learning, clubs and societies”. It offers a variety of study options at GCSE in addition to the core subjects, including classical Greek, computer science and Mandarin Chinese. Year 11 student George took 12 GCSEs and said he “enjoyed studying a wide range of subjects at Stephen Perse, from Latin to Additional Maths. The enrichment clubs allowed me to explore my chosen subjects further and develop an interest in Classical Philosophy.” George and his fellow students together achieved 27% grade 9, 49% at 9-8, 71% at 9-7, with 16 students awarded at least eight GCSEs at grade 9.Principal Richard Girvan said: “We are so proud of all our students who have achieved an impressive set of results. The students have grown into curious, intelligent individuals, with the confidence to make a positive difference to the world around them. We are delighted many students will be staying with us for the final years of their education at the Stephen Perse Sixth Form where I am sure they will continue to strive for academic excellence.”

Read more on GCSE UK national grades

WHERE TO FIND run an exam result helpline on 0800 100 900 where get help from large team careers for apprenticeships in the – helpline on  0800 100 900 to talk to a careers advisor or use webchatFor students stressed about their results find help at; ChildLine on 0800 1111 or on  0300 123 3393

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