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GCSEs are 'getting harder each year'

As teenagers across the North East are collecting their GCSE results, exam boards and teachers are warning pupils and parents to expect 'volatile results'.

Ian Wilkinson, Head Teacher at George Stevenson High School, has spoken of the difficulties students face under the new exam process, which was brought in last September.

Exam boards warn of 'volatile' GCSE results

Teenagers across the region will be collecting their GCSE results today. But exam boards are warning pupils and parents to expect "volatile results".

Sweeping changes brought in last September have toughened up the exam process, and could lead to a drop in pass rates for those achieving the top A star to C grades.

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Teesside University to spend £6m on 'futuristic' building

Plans for the new building Credit: Teesside University

Teesside University is to spend £6m on its science and engineering department, which it says will make the building "futuristic".

Money will be spent upgrading its laboratories. Among the new equipment will be a flight simulator for aerospace engineering students.

Plans include a flight simulator for aerospace engineering students Credit: Teesside University

North East increases share of A and A-star grades

Tens of thousands of the region's students celebrated after collecting their A-Level results. The North East saw an increase in its share of A and A-star grades compared to the rest of the country.

And for those who missed out on their target grades, there are 30,000 more places in further education this year, with some universities even offering cash incentives.

Dan Ashby reports.

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A-levels: North East students celebrate success

The percentage of students in the North East of England achieving the top grades stayed the same in 2014, despite a fall elsewhere across the country.

And for those who did not quite make their grades, the chance of them winning a place at university could not be better - because there are an extra 30,000 places available this year.

Dan Ashby reports from Newcastle Sixth Form College.

North East: Rise in A* A-level grades but pass rate falls

Figures for the North East of England show the proportion of pupils achieving A* grades has risen in 2014, while the overall pass rate fell slightly.

  • 98.4% of pupils passed with at least an E grade - down from 98.5% in 2013
  • 91.3% achieved a D grade or above - down from 91.8% in 2013
  • The percentage of pupils achieving a C grade or above stayed exactly the same, at 74.8%
  • The proportion achieving a B or higher went up to 48.3% from 48.2%
  • The number scoring an A or above dropped to 21.9% from 22%
  • And at the top end of the spectrum, the number of pupils achieving an A* went up to 6.6%, from 6.1% in 2013

The figures for the North East are from the Joint Council for Qualifications.

The proportion of the highest A-level grades rose slightly in the North East Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

Sports star goes for gold after A level success

After her A-levels, Beth Gill has the Tokyo Olympics in her sights Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A student from Tyneside is setting out on a career in sport, after gaining the A-level results she aimed for.

Beth Gill studied at Newcastle High School for Girls. She is an international hockey player but has also been tipped as a future medal winner in kayaking and canoeing.

Her A-level results mean she has secured a place at Loughborough University to study sport and engineering.

Beth has also been accepted onto a scheme, run by UK Sport, to nurture women with the talent to win medals at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The 18 year old will face the hard decision of choosing between hockey and the watersports in which she also excels.

"If I go for the canoeing I won't be able to train for hockey any more, which is a hard decision as I really love my hockey.

I'm lucky to have both options there."

– Beth Gill

A-level results: top tips for clearing

If you have not achieved the A-level results you had hoped for, what do you do now?

Northumbria University has the following advice for students, to help them get the most from the clearing process.

  • Do not panic

The university's Assistant Director Marketing, Helen Fleming says:

"It's vital that you weight up your options and make a note of what is important to you. You'll be spending the next three or four years of your life at university, so take the time to consider whether the course, the university and the location is right for you."

– Helen Fleming
  • Contact the university you are interested in

Helen Fleming says students should contact the university themselves, to allow admissions staff to ask the necessary questions and to give you the information you need. Remember to have your UCAS personal ID number and, if possible, your clearing number.

  • Have the course title and UCAS course code handy

Make sure you have the name and code number of the course before you ring. Also have a list of your qualifications to hand, along with work and relevant life experience. It is this sort of information which could give you the edge over other students.

  • Note down all relevant information

You may be given a verbal offer of a place over the phone. The advice is to write down the full title, UCAS course code, the name of the person making the offer and any conditions that may be attached to the course.

"You may be asked to attend an interview before an offer is made so it's important that you make a note of the date, time and location of the interview and know which member of staff you will be meeting."

– Helen Fleming
  • Take your CV and results certificate to any interview

More information can be found on the UCAS website.

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