Teenagers in Epping have beat the odds to secure the very top grades in their GCSEs.

A new grading system was introduced two years ago, enabling top achieving students to strive beyond an A* grade for the new grade 9.

It is a grade just a handful of the brightest students around the country are awarded.

But, there were plenty of grade 9s handed out to students at Epping St John’s Church of England School today.

Patrick Machin, from Epping, picked up seven grade 9, two grade 8 and two grade 7. He is staying on at Epping St John’s sixth form to study history, English and art.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Patrick Machin

He said: “I am over-the-moon; really, really thrilled. I’m surprised, but thrilled.

“It was emotional and confusing when the exams were cancelled. We did not know back then how we would get our grades. It was a feeling of building up to something for five years and being told ‘don’t worry about it’.

“Despite the six months of waiting, it does feel like an achievement today. These results come from the work we have put in. It hit me last night that I was about to get my GCSE results. I was more excited than anything else.

“The school has supported us the last few months by providing us with bridging the gap work. There have been phone calls most weeks, so that we could discuss our A-level options and to support those who were not coping with lockdown so well. That has been really good.

“I had not realised how stressed I was until now. The weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, but I hadn’t even realised it was there.

“For the next two weeks, I am going to ease myself back into getting into the mindset of doing lots of work and thinking – and holding a pen! I am not worried; I am optimistic about the future.”

Zoe Warner, from Epping, achieved eight grade 9, one grade 7 and one grade 6. She is going to Davenant Sixth Form to study art, biology, chemistry and maths.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Zoe Warner

She said: “I am very happy; I’m over-the-moon! I did not think I would get as many grade 9s. I am blown away. It feels like the hard work over the years has paid off.

“I was nervous about the results in case I had to appeal against any. I would have been upset if I had not got at least the same as my mock results.

“I was watching the announcement on the telly when it was decided schools would close and exams would not happen. I just burst into tears and wondered what was next. I wondered how I would get my grades and whether I would still be able to go to sixth form.

“I was relieved when I heard it would be our teachers who would award us our grades as they are the ones who know us, not the government.”

Alex Kyriacou-Drummond, from Roydon, collected six grade 9, four grade 8 and one grade 7. He is staying on at Epping St John’s sixth form to study French, Spanish and history.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Alex Kyriacou-Drummond

He said: “I am ecstatic! I had hoped for these results. I am over-the-moon with the grade 9s. I am one of four siblings and come from a very competitive family where it is not out of the ordinary to get this kind of results. So, I had to perform well!

“It was such a relief to open them and to see that the work over the years had paid off.

“I was gutted when the exams were cancelled as I always do better in exams; that is where I always perform. We had just come out of our mocks, so the teachers had a good idea of how I could do.

“I would not have got these grades without the school. I was never gifted in maths or science, but they made sure I got the best grades possible. The aspirations sessions, Saturday school and extra work all helped me to get there.”

Susie Peachey, from North Weald, picked up four grade 9, three grade 8 and two grade 7. She is staying at Epping St John’s sixth form to study geography, biology and psychology.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Susie Peachey

She said: “I feel very happy. Some of my results are much better than I had expected. I am very relieved.

“I was unsure what would happen when the schools closed as there was not much news on it back then. I was worried what the results would be based on.

“I am happy with the results. They reflect the level of hard I have put in.”