Students in Monmouthshire have made this year the best ever for GCSE results in the local authority area.

The high grade pass rate A* to C increased by 3.4% from 2007 to 60% and the overall pass rate A* to G remained high at 98%.

Council leader Peter Fox said: "I am very pleased as this means so many more students will have a wider choice of options to progress into." At Monmouth Comprehensive School, 17 high-fliers achieved an average grade of A.

Top achiever was Ceri Jones, 16, of Talycoed Lane, Monmouth, who gained 12 A*s and one A.

She said: "I was really surprised with the results, I didn't expect it."

She celebrated after the results with a day out in town with friends.

Ceri is now planning to sit A-Level Music, Chemistry, biology, Maths and Psychology.

Caroline Hagg of Penallt gained nine A*s and one A. These were on top of the three As she got last week in the A/S Levels she sat a year early.

She said: "I'm really, really pleased. I put so much effort into the A/Ss, I was a bit worried about the GCSEs."

Caroline plans to study A-Levels in French, History, Spanish, German, Welsh and English Literature next year.

Overall, the school had a 99.56% pass rate and 66% of entrants gained all A* to C grades.

Headteacher Carole Anderson said there had been lots of smiles.

At Chepstow Comprehensive School, 66.4% of students got five or more A* to C grades.

In total, 95.6% of students who took GCSEs gained five or more A* to G grades and 69.4% of all grades achieved at the school were C grade or better.

The top achiever at the school was Jonathan Massie from Devauden who got eight A*s and one A.

King Henry VIII School's students achieved a 96% pass rate and 61% of passes were at the A* to C level.

In total, 35% of the year group at the Abergavenny school obtained at least one A* to A grade and 21% of all grades awarded were A* and A.

Thirteen students gained a minimum of eight passes at A* or A. These included Chris Bu who had nine A*s and Ellis Reed who gained eight A*s and three As.

Head Gareth Barker said: "I am particularly pleased that over 86% of the year group have gained at least five passes at A* to G. This demonstrates that pupils of all abilities are succeeding."

At Caldicot Comprehensive, 55% of pupils gained five or more grade A*-C results and its best student gained seven A*s and one A.

Pupils also excelled at the independent Haberdashers Monmouth School for Girls where there was a 99.14% pass rate at A* to C grade level. The figure was 97.8% at Monmouth School.