WHEW! The wait and stress is over for thousands of pupils - and parents - across Hampshire.
Envelopes were today being torn open to reveal this year's crop of GCSE results.
And many secondary schools and colleges were reporting record results with most showing improvements on last year.
Bitterne Park School became the first mixed comprehensive school in Southampton to get more than 70 per cent of students achieving five or more A* to C grades.
St Anne's and King Edward VI schools in Southampton were the city's top performers, while Redbridge Community College hauled the number of pupils getting five A* to C grades from 45 per cent last
year to 64 per cent.
Another year-on-year rise in the five A* to C standard continued the debate over whether schools are moving pupils away from tougher subjects in favour of so-called soft courses.
There were renewed claims that schools are steering teenagers away from subjects like science and languages to boost their ranking in league tables.
And business leaders raised concerns about numeracy and literacy standards of school leavers.
Official figures showed the number of pupils taking French and German has dropped to a new low - with fewer than half now studying a language - while drama and PE entries have soared.
This year's results were the 19th consecutive year they have improved since GCSEs replaced O-levels 20 years ago.
Between 1988 and 2007 the A* to C pass rate has climbed from 42.5 to 63.3 per cent. Last year it was 62.4.
Eyes were on the number of five good GCSE passes, including maths and English.
Nearly one in five GCSE papers were given an A grade this week.
The number of entries awarded A or A* rose from 19.1 per cent to 19.5 per cent.
Pass rates for A-levels last week rose for the 25th year running to 96.9 per cent with more than a quarter of exam entries awarded the top A grade.
CHAMBERLYNE Park School pupils continued to improve the school's results.
Those getting give A* to C grades, including English and maths, rose by more than three percentage points.
In music all pupils at the performing arts specialist school achieved grades A* to C and in dance nearly half got A*s or As.
Many of the pupils were entered for exams a year early.
New head teacher Chris Kelly said: "Our improved GCSE results are a testament to the hard work of our staff and pupils. We have strong evidence of a trend of improvement at GCSE. We celebrate the
fact that our pupils also achieve in a range of activities beyond examinations and clearly excel in a range of subjects, particularly in the arts.
"We are not complacent and will continue to work hard to ensure that our improving trend continues year on year.
OAKLANDS Community School achieved its best ever results with 48 per cent of pupils gaining five A* to C grades - up six percentage points. It puts it within the top one fifth of schools in the
Head teacher Sarah Howells said: "This set of results is especially gratifying given the uncertainty surrounding the school's closure, and the results confirm the commitment Oaklands made to
prioritise the achievement of our students."
ST ANNE'S Catholic School also reported its best ever results.
The all girls school was celebrating 85 per cent of its 184 GCSE students achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C.
Three students got ten straight A* and 16 got A* or A grades in ten or more subjects.
Head teacher Beverley Murtagh said: "We are very proud of our students who have achieved superb academic results."
SHOLING Technology College saw a slight rise in its results.
The number of pupils achieving five A* to C grades went up from 55 to 56 per cent.
"We are really pleased to have maintained a high standard of results that have become a hall mark of STC in recent years," said a school spokeswoman.
She said an emphasis on the core subjects of maths and English continued to be strong with 48 per cent getting five A* to C grades, including those subjects.
She praised Bulgarian Stephania Petrova, 16, who got five A*s, three As, two Bs and two Cs, after coming to England two years ago.
BITTERNE Park School was celebrating an improvement in its GCSE results for the seventh year running.
Gordon Smith, from the school, said: "This has been yet another excellent year for Bitterne Park School with an outstanding set of results to match an outstanding Ofsted inspection.
"Seventy one per cent of our pupils achieved five A* to C grades, an improvement of six percentage points on last year, maintaining our continual trend of improvement and success."
TEACHERS at Redbridge Community College were also jubilant at a set of "outstanding" results.
The number of pupils getting five A* to C grades leapt from 45 per cent to 64 per cent.
Head teacher Richard Schofield said: "This represents a superb set of results. The school is already established in the top two per cent of schools in the country for contextual value added (a
broad measure of pupil improvement).
"This latest set of results is sure to secure our position among the leading schools in the country."
Among the top performers Mark Alexander, 16, from Southampton, got the equivalent of 17 A* to C grades, including GCSEs, BTECs and an OCR national certificate in sport.
IT was a record-breaking set of GCSE results for King Edward VI School, where 79 per cent of the exams taken were graded A* and A and 99 per cent of entries were awarded A to C grades. All
students achieved at least five GCSE passes.
EASTLEIGH, CHANDLER'S FORD AND HEDGE END
ALMOST threequarters of the 263 pupils at Wyvern Technology College in Fair Oak got five GCSE grades A* to C.
About 60 per cent got five A* to C grades including English and maths, while 17 per cent of exam entries were awarded A and A* grades.
Nearly 100 students took French two years early and gained A* to C grades including 19 with A or A*.
Seven students gained ten or more A* and A grades including James Alexander Heyes who was in and out of intensive hospital care before and during the exam period.
Head teacher Sheila Campbell said: "I am pleased with the results. They reflect the hard work by students and staff.''
THE results for the 250 pupils at The Arnewood School, in New Milton, were an improvement for the fifth year in a row.
Head teacher Chris Hummerstone said: "We are very pleased with the results.
"We are still doing some final analysis on the results, but it is safe to say the percentage of pupils gaining five or more A* to C grades is in the high 60s. Last year, that figure was 65 per
cent.'' PUPILS and staff at Hounsdown were celebrating another record-breaking achievement this year.
All pupils gained five or more GCSEs, with 72 per cent achieving the gold standard of five or more A* to C passes.
More than a third of all grades achieved were at A and A* level, with 21 pupils achieving ten or more of the top grades.
Eleven pupils will be celebrating passing all their 12 subjects at A or A* level.
Head teacher Di Nightingale said: "These are exceptionally fine results and reflect the hard work and commitment of our pupils and staff and the support of parents."
THE Romsey School achieved its best ever GCSE results with 77 per cent of pupils achieving five or more A* to C grades.
The figure was 66 per cent when English and maths were included.
More than a quarter of the cohort achieved five or more A* and A grades - another school record.
Bennath Atkinson was the top scorer with straight A*s in 12 GCSE subjects.
Head teacher Gareth Bell said: "We had high expectations of this year group and they have more than delivered on this.
"They were a wonderful year group to know and teach and I am delighted with their success."