THERE was jubilation in Redditch earlier today as hundreds of students collected their GCSE results, despite warnings toughened GCSEs were demoralising some candidates.

There has been a slight increase in the GCSE pass rate and the percentage of top grades this year, despite concerns about the difficulty of exams.

Top performing St Augustine's High School had 97 grade 9 scores (harder than the former A*), 30 per cent of students attaining grades 9 – 7 and 76 per cent of students achieving 5 GCSE’s at grades 9 – 5.

Overall 82 per cent of students who entered vocational courses achieved a Distinction * grade.

New Principal Gerald O’Connor said: “I am really pleased for our students and very proud of their achievements; great credit is due to them, the teaching staff for their hard work and parents/carers for their ongoing support.

It has been another successful year for students at Studley High School with a number of pupils achieving excellent results.

The pass rates in English and Maths are both more than 80 per cent and echo outcomes across many subject areas.

A school spokesman said: We are incredibly proud of the excellent outcomes pupils have achieved. It is always a delight to see pupils move onto their chosen destinations as a result of their hard work and motivation.

"These are some of the best results ever achieved within the school and they are testament to the positive attitudes and maturity of pupils as well as the commitment of a dedicated staff. We wish all of our pupils the best in the future."

A fifth of Woodrush High School students achieved at least one grade 9, putting them in the top 5 per cent of students in the country for those subjects.

This achievement is matched by nearly a quarter of all grades being a grade 7 or above; equivalent to the old A grade or higher.

80 per cent of students achieved at least a pass in English and 70 per cent in maths.

Headteacher Natasha Rancins said: "I am extremely proud of all our young people who worked so hard to achieve their wonderful results."

At Trinity High School, headteacher Adrian Ward congratulated all students, staff and parents on another successful year.

Pass rates at a grade 4 or above in both English and Maths were again very strong at 76 per cent and 63 per cent respectively.

Mr ward said: "The school is delighted by the achievements of all its students, and by the excellent results across a wide range of subjects. This demonstrates our commitment to a broad, balanced and challenging curriculum for everyone."

He added: "These results will ensure that our students have the best springboard from which to move into the next phase of their lives."

It has been a successful year at Tudor Grange Academy.

For the second year running about a quarter of the Year 11 cohort secured grades 9-7 (or equivalent) across their GCSE subjects.

There were also some excellent achievements in our other courses, with 100 per cent of students achieving GCSE grades at 4 or above (equivalent) in subjects such as music.

Principal Jodie Bolter said: “We are extremely proud of our students and their achievements.

"I would like to thank all staff for their continued effort and congratulate all students. We are looking forward to seeing many of our students again in sixth form and would encourage any students from other schools looking for Sixth Form places to come and visit."

Nationally the pass rate edged up to 67.3 per cent in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - up 0.4 percentage points on last year.

The percentage of papers given a top grade (7 or A and above) rose 0.3 percentage points to 20.8 per cent on 2018.

The rise comes as head teachers in England warned toughened GCSEs were demoralising some candidates.