Stunning GCSE results for some – but Archway school dealing with disappointment

While many of its students celebrated stunning GCSE results hauls, an Archway headteacher has admitted this has been a difficult year for his school.

Paul Kehoe, principal at Mount Carmel Catholic College for Girls in Duncombe Road, is in the same boat as many heads up and down the country, who are pondering disappointing marks hit by unexpectedly low English grades.

Mount Carmel has seen a sharp fall in students’ performance on the key measure of five GCSEs at A* to C including English and maths, down from 54 per cent last year to “about 41 per cent” – the college’s first slump in years.

While that is against a backdrop of a national decline, most of Islington’s schools are celebrating big strides forward from last year.

Speaking candidly about the situation, Mr Kehoe, who has overseen many years of rises in his 12 in the post, echoed a widespread suspicion that English papers have faced harsher marking than before.

Mr Kehoe said: “We have not done very well at all. The perceived changes in marking in English and maths have affected us. Children we were expecting to get good grades, and who in previous years would have got good grades, C and above, have shifted to the D grade.

“It’s not because staffing has changed, it’s the same teachers, teaching the same courses, using the same criteria. I think there’s an element of harsher marking.

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“We have to look very carefully at what we’re doing to ensure these young people do have the ability to get the best possible grades.

“On the other hand, we have had some stunning results. Our art results and history results are both well above 85 per cent, and triple science is 100 per cent.”

Indeed, despite the overall picture, there was outstanding news for many Mount Carmel pupils, including Asmie Vanajaraj, 16, who was overjoyed after gaining seven A*s and three As.

The 16-year-old from Archway hopes her GCSE success will be the first step towards reaching her lifelong ambition of becoming a doctor – partly inspired by her enjoyment of BBC hospital drama Casualty.

She said: “I’m really pleased! I was expecting to do quite well but I didn’t expect this. When I opened the envelope I didn’t know what to do, I was in shock.

“Now I just want to go to college and then study medicine. It’s what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was little and used to watch TV shows like Casualty. I also want to help people. My results have made me feel more confident.”

For Tara Levano, 16, from Holloway, it was top marks in 11 subjects, with four A*s and seven As. She said: “I was very nervous before I found out, but I really wanted to know what I’d got in English and history. I wasn’t expecting to get an A in English. Now I want to go home and rest.”

Sister Gemma, 27, said: “I’m really pleased with her results, although I expected it! Well done to her.”