While most schools are generally pleased with their results, the widely-predicted volatility in the system has happened following changes in the marking system and emphasis on exams rather than course work.
Students celebrate GCSE results - pictures
One of the main changes is in GCSE English where the talking part of the exam has been abandoned this summer, which many believe will hit borderline and disadvantaged students hardest.
Those canny schools – including All Saints Catholic College and Honley High which entered their pupils early in November before the changes took place – are heaving a huge sigh of relief as the gamble paid off.
Some other schools are reporting disappointing results in English, in line with an almost 2% drop nationally in the pass rate, as well as other subjects.
Shelley College’s results were broadly in line with last year, although the school predicted that the new system would result in a drop of 3% in some headline figures to be published this December.
Principal John McNally summed up the feelings of many headteachers: “They (the students) have worked really hard and have had to contend with significant national changes at the same time.
“It is well known that the GCSE examinations have become more challenging, but what is frustrating is the manner in which some changes have been introduced halfway through a course or changes to marking and grade boundaries have been implemented after the examination has been taken.
“In this context, I think our students and staff have done really well to maintain our results in line with last year’s performance.”
At least two local schools have posted their best-ever GCSE results. The percentage of students at All Saints Catholic College achieving five A* to C grades, including English and maths, has shot up 9% to 64%. The school entered all its English students for the GCSE in November.
These results take All Saints from below to above the national average which is just under 60%.
Headteacher Anita Bodurka said: “Building on the results from their early entry GCSE English, the students have gone on to achieve even more good GCSE grades across many other subjects.
“This success has come on top of improved progress over the last two years with our ‘Behaviour For Learning’ policy.”
Rastrick High School was another notable success story with results up 11% from last year to 72% of students gaining five A* to C grades, including English and maths.
Headteacher Steve Evans, who took over in September 2013 said: “We are incredibly happy and really pleased for our students. They have worked very, very hard and it has really paid off for them.
“The support from parents has been superb and our staff have worked incredibly hard in a very professional manner to get our students the very best results they can achieve.”