The North East has suffered one of the biggest falls in the country in this year's GCSE results.
A* to C grades have dropped by 2.1%.
Changes to the way the exams have been marked are being blamed.
Rik Stone originally left school at 15 with no qualifications. When his daughter started school he was inspired to go back into education.
The proportion of GCSEs awarded at least a C grade has fallen for the second year running, official figures have revealed.