Pupils and staff at Dartmouth Academy have celebrated their best ever GCSE results. A key measure for schools is the number of pupils achieving a C grade in at least 5 GCSEs including both English and Maths, and this year this figure, at 52%, is the highest the school has ever scored and an enormous 19% jump from last year. This is in the context of more challenging GCSE exams and an enormous testament to the hard work and resilience that the pupils have shown. They have attended holiday revision sessions, after school support sessions and really focussed on being their best selves.
‘We are so proud of our GCSE students’ achievements and everywhere you look there are individual highlights. The enormous amount of work by both pupils and staff to achieve these results has been stunning. Everyone has done there absolute best at the academy to support our pupils. Many pupils have achieved at least half of their grades at A grade including George Bakewell, Darion Clark, Harriet Henshaw, Annabel Hughes and Tommy Stewart. While other pupils, Josh Hobson, Georgia Littlejohns, Kelsey Mason, Leon Deville, Laura Peeke and James Yalland have made stunning progress from their starting points at the beginning of secondary.
‘The new Progress 8 measure shows that we look after all our pupils from those with the lowest starting point to those who had a head start. Our teachers in all subjects have inspired and motivated our pupils to excel. This is a major step forward in our journey to excellence. Our teachers have worked hard, our parents have been supportive over what could have been a tricky year and our pupils have been tremendous. I am an incredibly proud Principal’
Assistant Principal, Matt Bakewell said, ‘Now the government has produced a far more accurate indicator of how well a school teaches. Dartmouth Academy has gained the recognition it deserves at this stage of its journey. We have been an academy for six years and, from the foundations of a committed staff and an aspirational community, it has lengthened its stride under our inspiring new Principal to set a really high benchmark for the coming year groups with this set of brilliant results. Pupils should have the opportunity to benefit from our unique spirit underpinned by our educational philosophy. This year we are excited to have strengthened the teaching team again and we are confident that this time next year, we will be celebrating even more loudly.’
Roger Pope, CEO of Academies South West, said, "We are all immensely proud of the pupils and staff of Dartmouth. They have all worked hard and the results are spectacular. This is a great credit to the pupils themselves. It also speaks volumes of the skill and persistence of Tina Graham and her team. They have tackled the issues that the school faced with honesty and passion. To gain the best results ever achieved by the school shows that they are firmly on the path towards the excellence that the town deserves. Many congratulations."
Among the many individual success stories from this year’s GCSE, one Dartmouth student has several reasons to be celebrating. George Bakewell joined Dartmouth Academy in Year 6 and has thrived from the small classes, camaraderie and inspirational teaching. The unique culture of the school allowed for the curriculum to be tailored to his for his love of Maths and Science. So as well as attaining 11 GCSEs at A* or A grades, including triple science, he also scored an A for A level Maths two years early and an AS level in English Literature.
‘Achieving high grades does take hours of discipline, but I’ve been lucky to have been surrounded by a great group of friends on my journey through secondary school – it certainly makes a difference when schoolwork is also a lot of fun. I’m also very grateful for having such dedicated teachers.’
George was taught Maths A’ level by Mr Rule and AS level English Literature by Head of English, Ms Blumer, both graduates of Oxford University. He said, ‘Their guidance has been essential - I cannot thank them enough for the extra 1:1 teaching I have had and I will certainly miss Mr Rule’s jokes. And I mustn’t forget Madame Ford-Attia – it makes such a difference being taught French by a native speaker. She has such a passion for teaching and is never satisfied with second-best. I loved her lessons.’
He has mastered maths to such a high level that, after school hours, he has been earning extra pocket money tutoring younger pupils from other secondary schools in the area who have not had the benefit of Dartmouth’s maths teachers!
George also loves his sport and was especially delighted with his A for PE. ‘Unlike many schools who just do the standard sports like basketball and football, at Dartmouth, we can follow our passions, so for my practical assessments, I specialised in activities specific to this area of Devon like trekking (having completed Ten tors with the Dart Trekkers) rowing, (I am a member of Dartmouth Rowing club) and table tennis (I play at the Stoke Fleming club every Tuesday evening). My friends had the opportunity to be examined in horse riding, tai kwondo coaching, rock climbing and personal survival - the whole group hit their target grades.’
In addition to his Music GCSE, George also achieved a Grade 6 Distinction for his acoustic guitar and has nothing but praise for his Music teacher, Mr Chamberlain. ‘The GCSE Listening exam is really tough, but our class’s public performances at the town bandstand over the last three years ensured we practised regularly and had a strong foundation for the more technical aspects of the course.’
‘Looking back, I have had an incredible time at Dartmouth Academy – highlights include educational trips to Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth; field trips to Dartmoor and the coast; sports fixtures in Sheffield and Birmingham; an awesome activities week at Mount Batten in Plymouth Sound; taking the ferry across the Channel to practise our French in Brittany, coming third in the Devon/Cornwall public speaking finals in Bodmin (thanks to the Dartmouth Rotary Club); I was in a play in Year 8 and have performed in music concerts every year; and next year, through the school, I am traveling to Borneo on a volunteering project. I enjoyed summer evenings kayaking and sailing in Dartmouth. I have had so much support and encouragement from all my teachers, my Tutor (Mr Dettman, who constantly recommended and lent great books to widen my reading), my friends and everyone at the school (especially the Careers Department) and would just like to say a massive thank you for an unforgettable five years.’