Jewish secondary schools showed they were among the best in the land again this week, as students were given their GCSE results under a tough new exam regime.
New categories ranging from 1 to 9 means that 7 is the equivalent of an A grade, 8 is equivalent to an A* and 9 amounts to what would be an A** rating, with only two percent of exams in the country falling into this new top slot.
In the fight to top the tables, three big Jewish schools in London came in virtually neck-and-neck on Thursday, with little to separate JFS in Kenton, Yavneh College in Borehamwood and Hasmonean High School in Hendon.
JFS and Yavneh were ranked 67th and 65th best state secondary schools in the country by The Sunday Times last year, while Hasmonean came in at 87th.
This year, Hasmonean got slightly better grades, with 53 percent of results in the coveted 7-9 category (A grade or above) and 92 percent getting a 5 (C) or above.
At JFS, 51 percent of all exams landed a 7-9, and 91 percent were at 5 or above, while at Yavneh, 50 percent were at 7 or above, and 92 percent were at 5 or above.
At Hasmonean, which is a Modern Orthodox school, science students performed particularly well, with every physics student gaining a 7 (A) or above. In chemistry, 96 percent gained these top grades while in biology 93 percent gained them.
Headteacher Andrew McClusky said it was “wonderful to see both our brightest students and those who find academic study more challenging all achieving outstanding results”.
Debbie Lebrett, head of Hasmonean Boys and acting head of Hasmonean Girls, said students had “continued to find success in their secular studies whilst maintaining a focus on both Jewish leaning and leadership opportunities”.
Some schools paid tribute to stand-out performers. At Yavneh, several students scooped at least six grade 9s, including Sophie Horne, Nathan Silver, Natasha Sweiry, Jamie Grossman, Sophie Baxter, Danny Berlin, Rebecca Franklin, Ben Gruneberg, Renee Yantin and Josh Beach.
Proud headteacher Spencer Lewis said he was “absolutely delighted with another fantastic set of results,” adding: “Pupils should be very proud of what they have achieved in an environment where GCSEs have become more difficult than ever.”
At Hasmonean, teachers tipped their hat among others to Rafi Davis, Refael Davis, Joanna Pearlman, Rosa Pearlman and Hannah Pearlman, who all had at least five Grade 9 results handed to them.
At JFS, where 17 percent of exams hit the top grade, gushing headteacher Rachel Fink also paid tribute to the hard work, saying students had “demonstrated commitment to their own learning”.
She added: “We join them and their families in celebrating their success. This is reflected not only in the number of top grades but more importantly in the progress measure for the entire cohort. It reflects the strong partnership between school and home. I thank our staff for their tireless dedication, support and expertise.”
At fee-paying Immanuel College in Bushey, grades were even higher than last year, with a staggering 78 percent of exams returning a 7-9 (A-A**) rating, and 15 percent hitting the top 9 grade on Thursday morning.
Headteacher Gary Griffin said the results were “hugely impressive,” adding: “I am very proud of the students and teachers who worked so hard and so effectively. These are superb results and reflect extremely well on students and staff.”
At Kantor King Solomon High School in Ilford, Essex, which has 900 students, headteacher Hannele Reece was quick to acknowledge the progress being made in GCSE grades, with Religious Studies a particular success.
Among the school’s top performers with at least seven grade 9s were Jack Chevin, Sophie Daniels, Saule Miskinyte and Jacob West.
“I am so proud and delighted for the entire school,” said Reece. “The staff, students, parents, Governors and the entire community have committed to the success. We continue to move from strength to strength.”
At JCoSS, the cross-denominational Jewish secondary in New Barnet, 40 percent of grades were levels 7-9 (A or above), which was described as a “fabulous” achievement by headteacher Patrick Moriarty.
It is only the school’s fourth set of GSCE results, since being founded in 2010, but a quarter of the students achieved at least eight GCSEs at Grade 7 (A) or better, and 16 students got at least six grade 9s.
The school was keen to praise not only those who had topped the table but those “who have far exceeded personal goals and targets,” including Amy Woloski, Noa Taylor, Louis Rogove, Miri Goodlink, Noa Ben-Menahem, Edouard Hirsch, Lia Avigdor and Joseph Lever.
At Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School in Elstree, which has many Jewish students, there were some personal successes, including for Jasper Federman, who is one of the vice-presidents of BYYO, and Joshua Birns, who is Madrich of Bnei Akiva.
Federman, who hit three Grade 9s and five Grade 8s, said he was “over the moon,” while Birns, who is also Warden of Mill Hill Youth, said he was “ecstatic” after landing five Grade 9s and seven Grade A*s.
Meanwhile in Manchester, Jewish students at King David High School celebrated another good year, with 92 percent of exams graded 5 (C) or above, which is on a par with Hasmonean, JFS and Yavneh, while 45 percent hit a grade 7 (A) or above, which is only slightly less that the southern trio.
Among the Manchester students to do their school proud were Dalya Glickman, Amy Gould, Olivia Zemmel, Hinda Perez, Jessica Valins, Kaspar Ambuehl and Alexander Harris.
The school’s chair of Governors Joshua Rowe said he was “delighted for the pupils who have worked so hard and done so well and delighted for the teachers who put so much effort into supporting our pupils”.