Criticism of Government education policy and a tribute to a former pupil killed in Afghanistan featured in South Craven School’s presentation evening.

The headteacher of the Cross Hills school, Dr Andrew Cummings, highlighted the controversy over GCSE English exams earlier this year.

Dr Cummings, who also raised the issue last month, said it was grossly unfair to some students that grade boundaries were altered, noting that it seemed schools which marked work properly had seen their students penalised.

He again questioned proposals put forward by Education Secretary Michael Gove for new, more difficult exams, arguing that these could result in a situation where the majority of pupils were seen to fail.

Elsewhere in his address, Dr Cummings reminded those present of the death of former South Craven pupil Sergeant Gareth Thursby, who was shot dead by a rogue Afghan policeman in Helmand Province in September.

Celebrating the achievements of other former pupils, Dr Cummings mentioned the success of Olympic rower Andy Hodge and Paralympic archer Danielle Brown, who both won gold medals, and Paralympics volunteer Emily Yates.

Emily, who is studying English at Queen Mary’s University London, was one of the guests of honour and delivered a talk on the opportunities available for travel and adventure.

Her fellow guest of honour at the event, which was staged in the school’s new Fells building, was Skipton MP Julian Smith.

He formally opened the building, and was thanked by Dr Cummings for his support in securing the funding.

The headteacher also used the occasion to recognise the hard work of staff, including David Birks and Roy Burgin who will retire in December after many years of service.

Mr Birks was deputy head from 1986 to 2008, has twice served as acting head, and has worked part-time for the last six years as budget manager.

Mr Burgin stepped down from his post as head of the sixth form in 2008, and has since worked part-time as projects manager.

Prize winners were: Headteacher’s Award for GCSEs – Zoe Atkinson, Lizzy Barlow, Sam Booth, Matthew Cant, Josh Green, Charlie Shaw, Cameron Smith, Hester Thomas, Sophie Thomas and Melissa Twigg; Tom Bailey Award for Personal Achievement – Lucy Thompson-Sharpe; Dr Pattison Award for Personal Achievement – Lucinda Allen and Braidi Woods; Richard J Charlton Award for Outdoor Pursuits – Matthew Simons; David and Gill Birks Award for Sporting Achievement – Sam Conway and Laura Greenwood; Millennium Shield for Service to the Community – Jess Beckwith and Hannah Lee; Headteacher’s Award for Service – Rebecca Barrett, Harris Catley, Charlotte Davis and Frankie Hall; Design Award – Sally Cheung; Human Studies Award – Esther Liu; Languages Award – Karina Birkebaek; Mathematics Award – Adam Stares; Performance Award – Lily Dixon; Ogden Trust Award for Physics – Harry Blake; Science Award – Ashley Hollings.