Top: It’s good news for Highbury Fields pupils Molly Clift and Sarah Togwell when they open their results
Bottom: Highbury Grove’s Miron Farmus, Collins Iwueke, Mert Duruturk, head boy Gaspar Karczewski and Tamara Acarali celebrate
Published: 24 August, 2012
by CATHERINE ETOE, PETER GRUNER and ANDREW JOHNSON
SOME only came to this country three years ago, others have had to deal with difficult personal circumstances, and others only knuckled down a year ago.
But Islington’s 16-year-olds were celebrating bucking the national trend yesterday (Thursday) with a big rise to 54 per cent of pupils achieving the crucial five A*-C grades, including maths and English.
Islington’s exam passes have risen by five percentage points on last year’s 48.9 per cent – an overall rise of around 10 per cent.
The national figure for five A*-C grades including just English fell slightly from 69.8 per cent to 69.4 per cent.
The Town Hall is also set on avoiding any rows this year by including the crucial English and maths subjects in its figures. Last year they were left out, giving an inflated figure that later led to embarrassing headlines when the Department for Education published its league tables.
Yesterday however, there were smiles at schools throughout the borough with many students doing much better than they expected.
Billy Foster of Holloway School in Hilldrop Road was stunned to achieve an A in maths, even though history is his best subject. They were part of his haul of 10 As and six Bs.
“I really wasn’t expecting that,” he said. “I’m probably going to Camden School for Girls sixth form. I just want to get to university and see how it goes from there.”
His friend Kevin Sandovar also surprised himself, achieving three A*s, seven As and 3Bs.
“I stepped up,” he said.
Star pupil Dailya Abduckareem achieved eight A-C grades, even though she only arrived in the country three years ago, and didn’t speak English.
Sonia Leon also did well, achieving three As, five Bs and two Cs. Sonia came to London from Wolverhampton two years ago after her mum died and is looked after by her older sister, who is 22. The pair had a difficult time settling down, spending a few weeks living in Leyton and then Wood Green before Islington.
“I’m just buzzing,” she said. “My sister is really pleased, she said I can have anything I want. I want a new laptop! I’m going to City and Islington sixth form to do drama, psychology, media and English.”
Her friend Brooke Robinson also did well with two A*s, five As and two Bs. She’ll be joining Sonia at City and Islington to study biology, psychology and English language.
“I’m not sure what I want to do yet, but it will be something rooted in science because I enjoy that the most,” she said.
Overall, Holloway saw a record-breaking 60 per cent pass rate – up from 36 per cent last year.
“It’s thrilling to see such a year-on-year improvement,” headteacher Bob Hamlyn said.
At Highbury Grove, head girl Elizabeth Ariyo achieved four A*s, three As and five Bs in her exams, and she was among several students to record high marks in this year’s results.
“It’s been a tough journey and I’ve grown so much, and that’s down to the teachers for supporting me,” she said.
The school said that subjects where more than 90 per cent of students were awarded top passes were physics, chemistry, biology, music, statistics, Turkish and citizenship.
Several pupils achieved multiple A* and A grades and head boy Gaspar Karczewski, who was awarded two A*s, six As and two Bs, said that studying had been stressful but that the teachers had made the lessons fun.
“There’s no way of knowing how you’ve done,” he added. “I came in an hour early to get my results so I had to sit around but it was great when I got them.”
Shouts of joy also filled the air at Highbury Fields School.
Thirteen girls – 10 per cent of the year group – achieved 10 or more A or A* grades, while 70 per cent of pupils gained five good grades in subjects including English and maths as opposed to 36 per cent in 2009.
Mark Taylor, Islington’s director of schools, told the Tribune that they were “terrific” results. “It’s testimony to the hard work of the head teacher, the governors and all the staff at the school,” he added.
Head Gladys Berry, who joined the school in 2009, said she was “extremely proud” of both her pupils and staff.
She added: “They have been here on Saturdays, half term and the holidays, working with the girls and the girls have done everything we’ve asked of them.”
“They were really supportive and made sure I had all I needed to catch up after arriving from Florida last year,” said Bridgette Lafaye, who achieved eight A*s, an A and an AS level in maths.
Bridgette and her friend Catherine Edwards, who attained three A*s and seven As, opened their results envelopes at a count of three together and were more than happy with their achievements. “It’s been tough but it’s worth it to get good grades,” said Catherine.
Sarah Togwell, who achieved 10 As and one A* grade, added: “I started to doubt myself as the summer went on but this is great.”
At St Aloysius College in Archway – a boys school – 72 per cent won five A*-C grades. Youth Councillor Innocent Ogunmwonyi achieved six A*s, four As and two Bs.
At Central Foundation Boys School in Old Street, 66 per cent were in the crucial pass bracket. Samir Sayah managed to squeeze in drama club and debating and still come out with eight A or A* in his 11 GCSE haul.
The girls were not to be outdone. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Angel saw an eleven per cent rise in A* to C grades from last year. Silan Fidan, who visited Oxford University with the school to see Michelle Obama last year, achieved 11 A*s and two As. She also had an A in Turkish, which she took two years ago.
Islington’s education chief Councillor Richard Watts he was delighted with the results.
“Islington’s schools are in a good place at the moment,” he said. “The improvement is due to the hard work of the pupils and excellent teaching staff.”