GCSE Results Day: Champagne day starts with a call: Joy and relief at a Surrey school, and for one student the satisfaction of turning a natural disaster to good advantage

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RAYMOND OOI, standing in the playground, got out his mobile phone: 'Dad, are you ready for a laugh?' Then quickly he blurted out his GCSE successes, stopping only to say to his father that he still could not believe it.

He had got two 'starred A' grades, in craft and design technology and art, an A in French, English language and English literature, two Bs in science and one for geography, and a C in maths.

Raymond, a pupil at Glyn school, a boys' comprehensive in Ewell, Surrey, was one of the thousands children who received their GCSE results yesterday.

Raymond could not contain his joy and punched the air. He had failed four of his mock exams and, although he had worked hard, was still worried about passing them all. He had not dared to hope he would get such good grades.

The school, like most in the country, improved its overall results. Last year, 49 per cent passed five or more GCSEs at grades A to C. This year the figure was 60 per cent. Stuart Turner, the headteacher, was delighted. 'It is a big improvement,' he said.

He is particularly pleased because his school has to compete with selective schools in Sutton, which cream off some of the more able students.

'There has been some very good teaching and we have developed schemes to improve motivation. We praise them and give them certificates when they are doing well. It is harder to motivate boys than girls,' he said.

His teachers have delivered extra classes, outside timetabled hours, to give pupils special help when necessary.

When asked whether GCSE exams are now easier to pass, he is categorical: 'I do not think standards have slipped, but they have changed.

'We are asking different things of students, things more relevant to the demands of society and of the workplace. The type of questions are different from those 10 years ago. They are not easier, they are just different.'

Hugh Proctor, the head of maths, backed him up. Sixty-eight per cent of the students got five or more passes at grades A to C, and 25 per cent achieved an A or A*.

'It is a true reflection of their ability. The national curriculum has been a factor in the improvement, but the exam is every bit as difficult as the old O-level.' The new star system for A grades was an extra spur for candidates.

Paul Beeken, head of chemistry, said: 'We have now got used to teaching the syllabus. As the national curriculum has been introduced we are better at teaching it. There is also more content in the chemistry syllabus, and we are always trying to improve our standards.'

Adam Aumeeruddy achieved nine passes, all at the top A to C grades. 'I thought the exams were hard, but the extra classes helped and the teaching was really good.'

Adam hopes eventually for a university place.

Meanwhile, Raymond, still in a state of shock, was looking forward to going home. His parents had champagne stored in the shed.

(Photograph omitted)