THOUSANDS of students from across Oxfordshire celebrated their GCSE results yesterday.

Emotional scenes unfolded throughout the county as Year 11s lined school libraries, halls and canteens preparing to rip open their envelopes and find out their results.

The dread turned into jubilation and was made clear from the tears of joy – not just from the students – and the excited leaps for joy.

For teachers it marked only a couple of years since the old A* to G grades were ditched and the new number system was rolled out.

Read our live blog as the day unfolded

It was also branded one of the toughest years, with that picture being clear across the UK.

But despite tougher exams, the top GCSE grades were also on the rise, with some subjects seeing a third of students awarded a Grade 9 - the highest.

The government's new system replaces the old letters with grades 9 to 1 – where the 9 is the very highest achievement and Grade 4 is more of less equivalent to the old C.

Schools who spoke to the Oxford Mail yesterday were positive about the results, praising staff and students for their dedication under pressure.

Sarah Brinkley, headteacher of Abingdon’s John Mason School, said she was 'thrilled' with this year's results and that students should be 'very proud' of the culmination of their hard work.

She added: "The grading system is still unusual. I think students sometimes undervalue their grades if it isn't the very top. It's something employers are having to adjust to as well."

One of the highest achievers at John Mason was Eva Ponting, 16, who got 8s and 9s in all her subjects which takes her one step closer to her dream of working for the Foreign Office.

She said: “I was nervous and I’m relieved I got what I was hoping for.”

At nearby Larkmead, meanwhile, headteacher Chris Harris hailed the school’s 'best ever' results, adding the 2019 class had 'finished strong' with 74 per cent of pupils achieving grade 4 or above in English and 68 per cent doing the same in maths.

Meanwhile teachers at the Witney secondary schools praised pupils for overcoming a challenging set of exams, with several people opening their envelopes to find outstanding results.

Jake Clarke was the star of the show at Wood Green School and was mobbed by his friends after discovering he had achieved nine grade 9s.

The 16-year-old, who was visibly emotional, said: "I don't really know how to comprehend it. I couldn't hold the tears in, it was more because of relief than anything."

Jake was one of 23 students to achieve six or more grades 9 to 7, while seven pupils at The Henry Box School were congratulated by headteacher Wendy Hemmingsley for achieving a string of 8s and 9s.

She said: "We are absolutely delighted with these results. The new GCSEs are incredibly challenging and our students have risen to that challenge.

"These results represent the hard work, immense effort and incredible commitment of our students and staff."

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Oxford Spires Academy was delighted with its 156 pupils’ results, which saw 15 per cent achieve grade 9s – five times higher than the national average.

77 per cent achieved a grade 4 or above in English, with 67 per cent doing the same in maths.

High-performing student Anna Beekmayer paid tribute to her English teacher Mr Archibald after getting a near full set of 8s and 9s.

The 16-year-old got a 3 in her Literature mock but managed a 9 yesterday, along with a 7 in Language.

She said: “My teacher was the best, I cannot even describe and I just wanted to make him proud – I owe it all to him.”

Principal Marianne Blake labelled the results, which saw an attainment 8 of 4.7, ‘fantastic’.

She's recently praised the school's diversity, and said the students are much more than a piece of paper with results on.

One of the school's success stories Ftoun Abou Kerech, 16, came to the country with no English but now boasts four 'standard pass' GCSEs.

She is now set to study Photography, Classics and Art, she said: "I want to show people still learning English that they can do it."

At GCSE level the government has two headline measures: attainment 8 – which is the pupils average achievement across eight core subjects, and progress 8 – which shows pupils improvements (or decline) since starting secondary school.

Attainment 8 score of 49 would mean that the average GCSE score for all students who sat exams is 5.

A grade 5 is roughly the same as the old grade C.

Wallingford School headteacher Mr Willis had even more of a reason to celebrate this years 'brilliant' results as it was his final hurrah.

This year 195 pupils sat exams and 80 per cent of those got a grade 4 and above in English.

Another 83 per cent got a grade 4 or above in maths.

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Mr Wallis said: "I never sleep the night before these results are published but this year was particularly worrying. I have had 2 sets of results that disappointed me in 31 years and I still feel the disappointment of them. I was worried that my hat-trick might come in my final year, when I would not have been able to put them right.

"I am so relieved that they are strong and grateful to teachers for keeping focussed on what matters in a year of such turbulence. As always, we are grateful to the parents of the students involved. This year group was a particular pleasure to teach. Their part in this is huge and appreciated. "

Her added: "It is to be noted that students achieved brilliant results across the board, especially in really important subjects that feature very little in government performance tables. Thus demonstrating that our community have raised and educated a cohort of young people more broad minded and better prepared for the world than our legislators could ever claim to be."

Oxford Academy’s headteacher also congratulated his students after a set of ‘pleasing’ results.

High-performing Tristan Bradley, 17, was ‘disappointed’ with an impressive collection of grades which included 8s in English and maths - but Mum Sandra was ‘blown away’. Tristan, who hopes to be a surgeon, says it’s motivated him to do even better in his A-Levels.

Head Andy Harder said ‘a big well done to everyone following all of the hard work over the summer. The school was asked for its results.