Norfolk GCSE pupils have been praised for showing “great tenacity” after achieving a rise in top grades despite more than a year of disruption to their studies.

The number of pupils scoring a clean sweep of the highest grade in their GCSEs has increased by more than a third in a year, with more girls achieving straight top grades than boys.

The percentage of GCSE students awarded the top grades (7/A or above) in the East of England was 28.5pc up from 25.9pc in 2020.

This is despite the uncertainty of results being given through teacher assessment, not through end-of-year exams, for the second year in a row.

Grades are based on ongoing teacher assessment of what students have shown they know and can do based on what they have been taught.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “Every single one of our young people should be proud of what they’ve achieved this year. In incredibly difficult circumstances they’ve shown great tenacity in continuing their studies, despite all the disruption that coronavirus has thrown their way.

“Today should also be a celebration of all our school and education staff as well; teachers, headteachers, assistants and support staff have worked hard throughout this year to help these students achieve their goals.

“I want to say a huge thank you to all those who have worked with young people to help them continue their learning this year. Well done to all involved!”

For those for whom the results envelope contained disappointment, help is still available, he added.

Norfolk County Council’s Help You Choose website includes options available to young people, with a new automated chatbot feature enabling young people to discover which options may be best suited to them.

It includes information and advice on different options if they are uncertain about their next steps or receive results below their expectation.

Advice and support available ranges from CV writing, apprenticeship vacancies, and information about different careers. It also has advice for parents to help them understand the different options for their child.