A STAGGERING 99 per cent of students at Stroud High School gained A-level passes this year, with the percentage of those achieving A* - B grades rising from 63 per cent to 74 per cent.

Among the students celebrating top marks was 18-year-old Sophie Craven from Stroud, who is off to read social anthropology and Arabic at London's School of Oriental and African Studies next month after earning A*s in English and art and an A in German.

Equally as thrilled was Holly Owen from Malmesbury, whose A*s in mathematics, physics and chemistry and A in biology was more than enough to secure her place to study natural sciences at the University of Cambridge from October.

"The revision was tough and there was certainly a lot of it to get through," she said. "I found out from UCAS this morning that I had gained the right grades but I did not know what they were, so I was ecstatic when I opened the envelope."

Hard work and determination also paid off for 18-year-old Grace Cole from Bussage, who is confident of launching a career as an airhostess after achieving a B in photography, C in art and D in business studies.

Amber Barton's impressive four A*s in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics will stand her in good stead when she reads biochemistry at the University of Oxford from October.

The 18-year-old from Cirencester said: "It has been a stressful few months but I did my best. "I thought I had done enough revision but I did not think the exams had gone so well, so I am delighted and very surprised."

A hard-earned place to study medicine at Bristol University lies in wait for Molly Nobes, 18, from Stonehouse, whose perseverance was rewarded with an A* in psychology and As in chemistry and biology.

She said: "It was so difficult but I studied hard for it and I am really glad that I did."

Headteacher Tim Withers added: "Having two children of my own taking A-levels this year, I am conscious personally and professionally of all the hard work that goes into making success - not only from the students but from the parents and teachers supporting them.

"A-levels are not a sprint by any means but our students have worked for their achievements with the commitment and resilience of Jess Ennis and Mo Farah in the Olympics.

"They can now face the future with confidence and I am sure will go from strength to strength."