For Heather Florance, Garry's mother, who left school at 15 and is now a directory inquiries operator, his success was "quite frightening".
She said: "We are just ordinary working-class people. I can't believe it. I am on cloud nine. I knew he had worked really really hard, but I didn't expect this. He is just a normal boy, he is football-mad and supports Manchester United."
Both boys attend Emmanuel City Technology College, where teachers said that Garry had been in middle-ability sets when he started secondary school but had forged ahead in the last two years.
John, who has just qualified as a lifeguard, said he was surprised to do so well because the exams were much harder than the "mock" exams, particularly the German.
The last time a candidate scored 13 A grades in a 16-plus exam at a single sitting was in 1975 in the old O-level.
In Birmingham, a girl who sometimes cannot even hold a pen because of a nerve problem in her arms heard that she had ten A* grades. Mehreen Ali, aged 16, a pupil at King Edward VI Handsworth Grammar, was allowed to use a computer for her exams because she finds writing so painful. The disorder, which has baffled doctors, also causes migraines.
She said: "The computer kept crashing during the exams. It froze during both Latin exams, both religious studies exams and three English exams and I had to repeat what I'd already done."
In Somerset, Arthur Lovell, a pupil at Whitstone Community School in Shepton Mallett, scored 12 A*s. Arthur is the eldest of six children, and his family has no television. Besides his academic prowess, he also plays the violin in Somerset County Youth Orchestra and is painting a mural on a school wall.
Seven-year-old Nisha Santhiraraja from north London became the youngest person to pass a GCSE when she achieved grade C in computing studies. Two 11-year-olds from Grove primary school, Birmingham passed maths with C grades. The school pointed out that neither had secured the top grade in the 11-year-old national tests, suggesting a mismatch between the two exams.
Andrew Watford's delight at his nine As, six at A* , was mixed with sadness. His father died just three days before the exams but he had placed a pounds 50 bet on the results. Yesterday, the family picked up his winnings of pounds 450.
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