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  1. ITV Report

GCSE results 2019: the student success stories in our region

Pass marks came flying in for students young and old Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

It's been a disappointing set of GCSE results for the North East.

Average grades have fallen slightly in our region while increasing for the country as a whole.

It's the third year of new tougher qualifications that put more focus on final exams. But despite concerns around young people here falling behind, there have been plenty of inspiring success stories.

Congratulations are definitely in order for Northallerton teenager, Naomi Savage.

Naomi was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour, ependymoma, at the age of 4 and doctors said she had less than 50% chance of survival.

She underwent three craniotomies, around 30 long and intensive bouts of chemotherapy and endured a number of scares and setbacks along the way. Her condition is now stable but there is a possibility that the tumour will return. This summer, Naomi sat GCSE examinations in English Literature and Language, Mathematics, Science, History, Spanish, Music and Art.

Naomi says alongside her studies, it's been important to raise money for charities close to her heart, such as Brain Tumour Research.

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And one man who has proven it's never too late to achieve great things is John Cowle. He's just passed GCSE maths at the age of 74!

A retired engineer, John decided to return to education for his own enjoyment, after he admits he failed the Eleven-plus when he attended school six decades ago. He was one of many adult learners at Redcar College to receive his results today.

But he says school has changed a lot since then...

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Here's some of the details of today's results:

63.8%
The pass rate in the North East fell to the joint lowest in the country
16.4%
The proportion top grades was up - but we were the only region where that figure fell

The government announced Opportunity North East last autumn, with £24 million aimed at improving performance and opportunities for children in our region.

The new GCSE grading structure has caused confusion despite being similar to the old system Credit: PA

Why was the grading system changed?

The move is part of a wider reform of exams which has seen a complete overhaul of the content and structure of GCSEs.

Schools and colleges have been teaching these new GCSEs for the last three to four years, and it is only now that grades are starting to be awarded. The new courses feature much less coursework than the old GCSE qualifications.

Maths was one of the first subjects to move to the new grading system Credit: PA