Character and determination shone through in equal measure at Spalding High School where students faced up to tougher exams head-on.
The challenge of new course content and grading systems for English language, English literature and maths proved a temptation for students to work even harder, with 49 per cent of them achieving A*, A or the new 7 grade and above.
In subjects where A* and A stayed as the top grades, the school saw a six per cent rise in the number of students earning them compared to last year.
Tabitha Priestly, of Kirton, one of the top performers with three 9s and eight A*s, said: “I’m quite surprised because some of the English exams were quite hard.
“It feels like all the hard work has been worth it to get these results.”
Matching Tabitha’s success exactly was Holly Stevenson, of Wisbech, who earned an A* with Distinction in further maths.
It’s been a long wait and build-up to today, but Holly has worked really hard and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome for herKate Stevenson, mother of Holly Stevenson, of Wisbech
Holly said: “My results are so much better than I expected, although I knew that I’d worked really hard.”
Mum Kate added: “It’s been a long wait and build-up to results day, but Holly has worked really hard and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome for her.”
Hermione Baxter-Chinery, of Peterborough, had a hard act to follow after elder sister Mercedes, now studying engineering at Cambridge University, earned A*s in almost every GCSE exam she did four years ago.
But after she kept up the family tradition with a 9 in English literature, 8s in English language and maths, alongside seven A*s, Hermione said: “I put a lot of work into it and the teachers were all really supportive.”
The bar was also set high for Serena Leadbeater, of Spalding, whose sister Chiara achieved five A*s at A-Level in maths, further maths, physics, biology and chemistry in 2015.
But after stepping up to the mark with three 9s, eight A*s and an A, Serena said: “They aren’t what I expected at all because I thought I’d failed my exams.
“At the beginning of the summer, I was nervous because I wanted to know my results.
“But because there were so many weeks to go before they came out, I was relaxed until the night before results day.”
Jade Griffiths, of Spalding, also has three 9s, eight A*s and an A to take with her to Spalding Grammar School’s sixth form and she said: “They’re the grades I wanted, but not what I expected.
“The exams were harder than I thopught, but I’d put in so much hard work that I wasn’t really nervous about getting my results.”
Eloise Freeman, of Peterborough, who collected two 9s, one 8 and eight A*s, said: “English was really difficult and I didn’t think that I was going to do very well in maths either.
“My mum and dad are very happy though.”
Alicia Polley, of Spalding, who got a 9 in maths, 8s in English literature and English language, four A*s and two As, said: “I’m really happy with my results as they were a lot higher than what I expected, so I went to a party with my friends to celebrate
“I’m planning on going to Spalding Grammar School to study maths, further maths, chemistry, biology and an extended project qualification.”
Headmistress Michele Anderson said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits for the students because they have done so well in a year when, particularly with maths and English, when we didn’t know what to expect.
“This year’s GCSEs were heralded as some of the hardest exams since the old O-Levels and we didn’t have any past papers to be able to know what to expect.
“But the results are a reflection of the students’ hard work, as well as the commitment from staff, that will stand them in good stead for the next step in their education.”
Chairman of governors Dr Peter Gorton said: “The students have done really well and you only had to look round and see all the smiling faces to know that this year’s results are well-deserved.
“I’m so proud to be associated with this school.”