GCSE results day 2018: St Mary Magdalene Academy in Highbury gets ‘best ever grades’ despite new harder exams

PUBLISHED: 14:28 23 August 2018

The headteacher and deputy of St Mary Magdalene Academy, Victoria Linsley and Dailola Ajagbonna, are

The headteacher and deputy of St Mary Magdalene Academy, Victoria Linsley and Dailola Ajagbonna, are "absolutley delighted" with the GCSE results. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey


A Highbury headteacher is “absolutely delighted” after the outgoing Year 11 students achieved the school’s highest ever GCSE results.

St Mary Magdalene Academy, in Highbury, has recorded its 'best ever exam results'. Picture: Lucas CumiskeySt Mary Magdalene Academy, in Highbury, has recorded its 'best ever exam results'. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Some 80 per cent of kids at St Mary Magdalene Academy, in Liverpool Road, have achieved grades 4 and above, equivalent to A* to C under the old system.

A new grading system, designed to make tests harder, now rates pupils from 1 to 9, with 4 being a “standard pass” and 5 a strong pass.

Victoria Linsley, who has been running the school since 2012, said: “I am absolutely delighted and we have actually broken the 80 per cent barrier. We have just got better and better and even with the new harder tests this year we have still done fantastic.”

Victoria pointed out that a quarter of students have gained 7s and above this year but said some subjects, including Mandarin and astronomy, are still being graded on the old system.

But she worries this year’s students are at a disadvantage because future employers will treat their 4 grades as equal to a C, even though they took harder exams than previous pupils.

“It might look like they have the same grades,” she said. “But actually they have done something much harder, so for them as individuals I think this year feels like an unfairness.”

She added: “People get better for tests by practising past papers but this year has not been able to do that.”

Victoria compared the exam shake-up with O-levels being replaced by GCSEs between 1986 and 1988, but stressed she doesn’t hold a political opinion on the new or old grading systems.

Her deputy, Damilola Ajagbonna, who has been in the job for a year, said: “I think it’s a really good harvest this year because there were a lot of unknowns and a real sense of trepidation about what was going to come out.

“But the students have worked really hard and excelled in all aspects that make a good pupil.”

He added: “My catchphrase is ‘be kinder than is necessary’ and all these kids are so I am really pleased with them.”

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