GCSEs: Tower Hamlets beats national average with Whitechapel’s Swanlea scoring high in new tougher grading

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

A new grading system made it tougher for this year’s GCSE pupils for maths and English, with the old ‘star’ lettering system faded out and replaced by a numbering.

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

But east London pupils in Tower Hamlets schools did better than expected with many getting the new top Grade 9.

The number grades won’t be brought in for other subjects until next year at the earliest. Subjects like the sciences, arts and languages are still judged by the old star grades.

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

Swanlea Secondary got all its Year 11 pupils doing better than the expected on estimates taken from their mock exams in years 9 and 10, with students achieving an average B and C grades in eight subjects.

These include 44 per cent getting Grade-5 to Grade-9 in English and maths, above the national average, or 65pc grades 4-9.

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke


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The new marking system was “pushed through quickly” and was a challenge for teachers, according to Swanlea’s head Brenda Landers.

“The maths and English initiative was rushed by the government,” she told the East London Advertiser. “There’s been a lot of change in education over the years—this time it was rushed and it hasn’t been easy.

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

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“My message to the government is not to ‘talk’ the system down, but be positive and ensure we have good people coming into the teaching profession.”

Top GCSE marks went to Sadia Ahmed from Wapping, with eight A*s and three 9s added to the three A*s she got last year—despite distraction from her little four-year-old brother Saif.

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

Sadia revealed: “He used to come into my room to play when I was trying to study—but I got a lock and kept him out!”

Sadia eventually wants to do philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford—once she gets through next year’s A-Levels.

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke

GCSE results at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

Two Swanlea boys were hot on her heels with their GCSE results.

Abir Reza from Whitechapel got two 9s, two A*s and six As.

He admits the new maths and English grading was hard going with no previous years’ exams to work from—but had no little brother to distract him like Sadia.

Arpan Dev from Whitechapel got two A*s and three As and wants to go on to study physics and engineering—always busy fixing his toys as a small child.

He also had no siblings distracting him and dreams of going to Cambridge one day.

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