STUDENTS have shone on GCSE results day despite an overhaul which saw exams become much harder.

More than 700,000 teenagers received their GCSE results today, amid claims some exams were too hard.

Yet despite the challenges, Maltings and New Rickstones academies in Witham saw success.

At Maltings, almost twice as many students achieved the top grade of 9 in their GCSE subjects compared to last year.

In English, a total of 62 per cent of students bagged at least a grade 5, considered a strong pass.

Top achievers included Thomas Ikel, who got three 9s, three 8s, two 7s and a Distinction*, and Kerry Searle, who took 10 subjects and achieved one 9 alongside three 8s, three 7s and two 6s.

At New Rickstones the story was similar, with the academy celebrating its best-ever GCSE results.

A full 100 per cent of students scored grade 4 or higher in Finance and Performing Arts this year, with 94 per cent attaining grade 4 and above in Hairdressing and Beauty.

This is the second year running the Witham school, which is part of Academies Enterprise Trust, has seen improved results.

Academy head Damian Lee said: “We are extremely proud to be celebrating the best results New Rickstones Academy has ever achieved.

“The huge improvements made are testament to the hard work put in by students, coupled with huge levels of support from each other, their families and the dedicated staff here at New Rickstones.”

Maltings’s headteacher Emma Baker added: “The success we have seen this year is testament to the dedication and hard work of the students and staff, underpinned by the support of parents and carers.

“These results demonstrate the wonderful ability of our students and will allow them to go on to lead remarkable lives.”

Outstanding students this year included Aimee Fisher at New Rickstones, who scored two 9s, two 8s and three 7s and Katie Chilvers, who received one 9, one Distinction and four 6s among her nine subjects.

Nationally, head teachers say some lower-attaining pupils have been so demoralised they refused to sit the exams.

England's exams regulator insists it is keeping standards the same over time.

The new numbered grading scheme was brought in alongside a new GCSE curriculum in England - 9 is the highest grade, while 1 is the lowest, not including a U (ungraded).

Three number grades, 9, 8 and 7, correspond to the old-style top grades of A* and A - this is designed to give more differentiation at the top end.