YOUNGSTERS in Thurrock are collecting their GCSE results today, amid reports that nationally, there has been a sharp drop in English grades.

But overall, there has been a slight rise in the number of A* to C grades.

This year's cohort of GCSE students also had to cope with an overhaul in the exam system, with head teachers pointing out their pride in pupils.

At the Gateway Academy, in Tilbury, 50 per cent of pupils achieved five A* to C grades including maths and English - the same rate as last year, with 92 per cent achieving at least five passes.

Lucy Colbert was Gateway's top performer, achieving five A* grades three As and three Bs.

Kevin Sadler, chief executive of the Gateway Learning Community, said he was proud at the progress students had made during their time at the Marshfoot Road academy: "Many started below the expected level in Year 7 and are now competing with students from far more privileged backgrounds.

"These results will provide more students than ever before with the opportunity to undertake further study at local colleges and sixth forms, and eventually to go to University.

"We are delighted that so many of our students have done so very well."

Girls attending Grays Convent were celebrating this morning after 63 per cent left with at least five GCSES at A* to C including maths and English, an increase on recent years.

Natasha Eades and Faith Oni, pupils at the College Avenue school, achieved a whopping nine A* and two A grades, giving a total of 11 GCSEs at the highest grades.

Head teacher Penny Johnson was particularly pleased with the school's maths results, given the reforms introduced in the last 12 months: "I am so pleased with these results, in particular our increase in Mathematics during a year which has seen a great deal of Government reform. 

"Geography, PE and Design and Technology have also shown great inprovements. It is good to see that at Grays Convent pupils achieve at the highest level, a staggering 25 per cent of our pupils achieved A* or A grades across all subject areas."

Star student, Honey Brandy Frimpong-Manso, 16, of Grays, is celebrating after achieivng five A* and six A grades.

She said: "I feel like all my hard work has paid off. I'm going to study Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Science at Harris Westminster Sixth Form in London.

"I'm hoping to study medicine after that. I'm really happy."

At the Gable Hall School, in Corringham, 74 per cent of students received five or more A* to C grades, including Maths and English.

This is the fourth successive year of improving results at the school.

Dr Sophina Asong, Headteacher of Gable Hall School, said: "Our students have risen brilliantly to the challenge of the turbulence of this year’s examinations landscape.

"This just goes to show, that when students are prepared to work hard for their dreams, when they have  good teachers to inspire them and ambitious parents to support them, the sky is the limit."

The Hathaway Academy, in Grays, celebrated a four per cent increase in GCSE results since its conversion last year.

44 per cent of students achieved five or more A* to C grades, including Maths and English.

Samuel Agyeman, 16, of Grays, obtained nine A* and 2 A grades - he will be heading to The Coopers' Company and Coborn School in Upminster to study triple sciene and maths at A-levels.

He said: "I am extremely happy and it feels like all my hard work paid off. I think my parents will be very proud."

Altogether, 50 per cent of students at Hassenbrook Academy in Stanford-Le-Hope received five A* to C grades, including Maths and English - this is a 12 per cent drop from last year.

However, headteacher Michelle Bamber, chose to focus on the positives.

74 per cent of students obtained A* to C grades in Maths and 84 per cent of pupils gained two or more Science GCSE’s at grades A* to C.

Mrs Bamber said: "I wish to congratulate the staff and students who worked really hard to achieve good results."

Harris Academy Chafford Hundred, in Mayflower Road, celebrated another successful year as 93 per cent of students collected five A* to C grades, including Maths and English.

67 per cent of students at St Clere's School, in Stanford Le Hope, obtained five A* to C grades, including maths and English.

Council Leader, and education portfolio holder, John Kent, said: “It’s always heartening to see so many young people cheered by their results. Not everyone gets A*s but to achieve to the best of your ability is always something worth celebrating.

“What’s particularly pleasing is the overall Thurrock increase in the benchmark five or more A* to C results including English and maths, where we are now well above last year’s national average.”

Students at William Edwards School, in Grays, were also celebrating as 70 per cent achieved five A* to C grades, while 50 per cent of students at The Ockendon Academy obtained five A* to C grades, including maths ans English.