THE headteacher of an Oxford secondary school once named the worst in the country praised his students and staff for the best ever GCSE results.

Niall McWilliams, who took over Oxford Academy in March 2014, vowed he would “get it right” and yesterday said he was thrilled with the results.

The school, in Sandy Lane, Littlemore, received a “disappointing” set of results last year, with only 30 per cent of 144 students receiving five GCSEs with grades between A* to C.

But yesterday the figure nearly doubled as 58 per cent of 156 pupils received five GCSEs graded A* to C.

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Mr McWilliams said: “It’s all down to our really well behaved and hard-working students, high expectations, brilliant staff and supportive parents.

“We are not surprised by these results. We are really pleased.

“There is no doubt we can do even better.”

Oxford Mail:

Maya Nowak, 16, at The Oxford Academy

The school was placed in special measures in January 2013 following an Ofsted inspection in November 2012.

Mr McWilliams was brought in to the academy from Carterton Community College and managed to haul the school out of special measures in January.

One student who excelled yesterday was 16-year-old Anusha Abbas.

Oxford Mail:

Abdulla Yusuf, who got A grades in maths, chemistry and English at Oxford Spires Academy

She received a total of five A*s, five As and one B and has successfully gained a place in Magdalen College School. She was also the only student in the school to receive an A* in English Literature.

She said: “I’m actually speechless. I thought I would only get one A*.

“I applied to Magdalen and I needed six A*s to get in but they said because I go here they would be a bit lenient. So I got in with five.”

Another student, Maja Nowak, was overjoyed at her results.

She received nine As, two Bs and one C.

She said: “I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was so scared I was going to fail something.

“I stayed at school until around 6pm every night and did revision on Saturday too.

“Now I can do all my subjects at sixth form.”

Oxford Mail:

Elizabeth Dorey, left, and and Kimia Golestanian celebrate their results at The Cherwell School 

Cheers and screams echoed from nearby Oxford Spires Academy as teenagers opened their envelopes yesterday.

The Glanville Road school saw 121 pupils sit their GCSE exams, with 64 per cent achieving five A* to C grades, and 55 per cent receiving five A* to C grades including English and maths.

Principal Sue Croft said she was pleased with “especially strong results” seen from the English language, maths, science, Spanish and business departments, which all saw more than 70 per cent of students receive A* to C grades.

She added: “We have enjoyed this year, working with students who were driven for success.

“As a year group they showed great resilience and character and many surprised themselves with how far they had travelled.”

Student Abdulla Yusuf said he could not believe he got A grades in maths, chemistry and English literature, as well as a B in English language.

The 16-year-old said: “It still has not sunk in. It’s better than I thought I did.”

Chairman of governors Tony Brett said he was “delighted” with the students’ grades.

He added: “The students have worked extremely hard and impressively productively with their teachers, who have often gone the extra mile to enable the students to achieve at the highest level, to be the best they can be.

“Not only are the students a credit to Oxford Spires and excelling in their extra-curricular activities, they are making exceptional progress and opening further opportunities for themselves.”

Cheney School in Headington scored another impressive set of results, with a notable increase in core subjects English and maths.

The percentage of students scoring five or more A* to C grades, including English and maths, jumped to 62 per cent from 59 per cent last year.   Headteacher Jolie Kirby was pleased with the success in the core subjects.

She said: “English and maths are the benchmark subjects.

“They impact on what students can do in the future and we are very pleased to have improved on last year.”

The school said its English language improvement was around 10 per cent and put this partially down to splitting up boys and girls.

Head of English Jamie Kirkcaldy said: “We have been doing it for a few years now.

“We look at a year group and sort out classes and for English we have had a few all boy and all girl classes.”

He added: “If girls are around the boys tend to show off and mess around.

“A lot of the girls find it more conducive when learning in single sex classes.”

Mr Kirkcaldy said the main factor though was his student’s attitude and additional support received in their younger years.

St Gregory the Great Catholic School also celebrated some outstanding results.

Jennifer Poudy, 16, from north Oxford, achieved three A*s, one A, four Bs and one C at GCSE level.

She said: “I am completely surprised by my results. I didn’t think that it was possible for me to do this well.”

Jennifer is planning on taking A-Levels in English literature and language, media, sociology, and business.

She added: “The school has been amazing to me during my GCSEs and I’m really looking forward to starting my A-Level studies here.”

Cherwell School headteacher Paul James said he was delighted with the results, which were the school’s best ever.

He added: “Seventy-four per cent of students achieved five A* to C including English and maths.

“Based on the principle of only the “first” result counting this year, these are the best GCSE results the school has ever achieved.

“The students and staff are to be congratulated and the support from parents and carers has been invaluable.’’ Elizabeth Dorey, 16, from Summertown, achieved six As and three Bs.

She said: “I feel so happy. I cannot believe it.”

Kimia Golestanian, 16, who lives in Marston, who got 10 A*s and one A, said: “I’m so glad it’s over.”

Cherwell pupil Jack Richmond, from Headington, got A*s for all of his GCSE subjects.

The 16-year-old will join the sixth form here and hopes one day to go to Oxford or Cambridge.

He said: “I was quite disappointed with some of the exams, so by managing to get these results I’m very pleased overall.”