A DARLINGTON school is celebrating “outstanding” GCSE results despite curriculum changes and a new grading structure which made exams far tougher.

This is the first year that English and Maths have been graded from 9-1, with 9 being the highest, 5 rated a “good pass” and 4 a “standard pass”.

Carmel College had 84 per cent of its pupils achieving grades of 9-4 and 71 per cent had 9-5 passes, showing a real strength in depth of performance.

Only two per cent of the population were predicted to achieve grade 9s but an incredible 29 Carmel pupils out of 190 got 9s in Maths – around 15 per cent of those taking the exam. Thirty pupils got 9s in English.

Helen Keough, Assistant Head in Charge of Data and Progress, said: “These are fantastic results which we are sure will put us well above the national average.

“It was such a difficult year because of the changes. The exams were much tougher and it was hard to know where the new boundaries were. Teachers were working in the dark to a large extent but they’ve really stepped up to the challenge.”

Principal Mike Shorten added: “We are really excited by these results because there has been so much turmoil surrounding the changes. Getting results like these in such a year of change is outstanding and the number of 9s the pupils have achieved is simply stunning.”

Five pupils achieved three 9s: Sophie Whan, Gemma Clausen, Joshua Glendenning, Anna King and Troy Cooley.

Sophie, who also achieved seven A*s, said: “I’m really pleased because it was so hard to predict because of all the changes.”

Twins David and Siobhan Anderson, who were born at 31 weeks and in special care at James Cook Hospital, made parents David and Liz proud with their excellent results.

David, who was just 3lbs 6ozs when he was born, achieved a 9 in maths, an 8 in English and four A*s. Siobhan, who weighed 2lbs 1oz at birth, got four As and two A*s as well as an 8 in English Literature and Language. She also got 100 per cent in geography.

Mum Liz said: “It was very traumatic when they were born but we’re so proud of them.”