FATIMA Whitbread, a British javelin legend and TV star, was one of many proud parents as relieved and excited Brentwood students received their GCSE results.

She attended the Brentwood School with her son Ryan Norman.

Against a national backdrop of a decline in top grades in English and fears on how the Government's GCSE overhaul might affect results, there was plenty of success in the borough.

The Brentwood School achieved its best ever results with a record 29 per cent of pupils attaining a  A* grades - higher than in 2012 and 2013.

There was also a massive leap in the number of A* to A grades grades, a jump in A* to B grades and a 100 per cent pass rate. The number of students securing the benchmark A* to C grade was 97 per cent for the third year running.

Out of the 167 students who sat GCSE exams this year, no less than 33 youngsters opened their sealed envelopes to reveal all A* and A passes.

Ian Davies, the head master, said: "These are our best ever results with grades up on last year’s outstanding results. Our success is down to inspirational teaching, the hard work of the students over several years, close academic monitoring, excellent pastoral care and a culture of high expectations."

Fatima watched as Ryan opened his brown envelope to reveal he had achieved an impressive eight A*s and three As.

She said: "I am always a proud mum but this is an extra special occasion. I told Ryan that you can only do your best, and he worked so hard. This year group has been very academic, very sporty and close knit."

Exceptional students included Dan Hirst and Hamish Kadirkamanathan who celebrated an incredible 12 straight A*s.

Special performances by Calum Connelly, Bryan Leung, Narendra Mampitiya, Madeleine Smith, Lera Usenco and Kalyan Vemulapalli were rewarded with 11 straight A*s.

At Shenfield High School, 71 per of pupils scored A* to C in English and maths and 58 per cent gained at least five A* to C grades inc. English and maths.

Head teacher Carole Herman, said: "We know that this is a turbulent year for results as so much in the educational landscape has changed with very different demands being made on our students. 

"I am very pleased, then, that our English and Maths results have each increased by 5 per cent and the 5A* to C including English and Maths statistic has improved by 2 per cent.  Our students worked hard, as did their teachers."

David Barrs, head teacher at the Anglo European School in Ingatestone, said his school had felt the expected "volatility" in the results. But 65 per cent of pupils there walked away with a five GCSEs at A* to C including maths and English.

"We were told to expect 'volatility' in the exam results and this has happened.  Apart from grade boundary changes in many subjects, the speaking and listening element in English was removed from the final grade after our students had done the assessment. 

"Our fear is that performance measures are being modified in a piecemeal fashion and this reduces their credibility."

Meanwhile at St Martins School in Hanging Hill Lane, Hutton, 84 per cent of pupils achieved A* to C grades, with a pass rate of 100 per cent.

*The Weekly News is currently waiting on results from the borough's other secondary schools