JAMIE Smallbone, from Bramhope, has enjoyed a successful year - not only has he notched up ten top grades at GCSE, he is one half of the youngest team to compete at this year’s prestigious Oxford Schools Debating Competition.

A student at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), Jamie clocked up nine 9s and an 8 in this summer’s examinations. His debating partner Ben Wheatcroft, from Bardsey, achieved a clean sweep of 10 grade 9s.

The keen debaters are used to keeping a cool head in tense situations. This year the two 16-year-olds were pitted against mainly sixth formers as one of 120 teams from the UK and abroad competing in the Oxford Schools Debating finals at the Oxford Union.

They found debating to be great preparation for their exams. As Jamie said: “Debating helps you formulate ideas and develop arguments for essay questions, and is great for building confidence.”

A third of GSAL students gained the top grades of 7 or above in every subject – the equivalent of A*/A under the previous system. Wharfedale students who achieved this feat include Jobina Antony, from Horsforth, and Evie Ramsbottom, from Menston.

Half of all grades were at 8 and 9, with 28 per cent of passes at the highly sought after grade 9. Overall, the school achieved 98 per cent of passes at 4 or above.

Twenty-six students scooped 10 grade 8s or 9s in every subject, including eight who secured the top grade of 9 in all 10 GCSEs.

Principal Sue Woodroofe said: "This is an outstanding set of results. The coveted grade 9 is more difficult to achieve than an A*, so to have 28 per cent of our passes at 9 is tremendous.

"I could not be more proud of this year’s GCSE students and I am grateful to staff and parents whose support for, and encouragement of, the children has been first class."