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The Corporation

Posted: 22/08/19

GCSE success and pride at college

West Nottinghamshire College is celebrating successful grades and stories of progression with its GCSE students.

  • Sarah Radford was delighted to achieve a grade 6 in both English and maths respectively, despite battling chronic health problems
  • Kate Jaworek beamed with pride as she opened her results envelope, achieving a grade 7 in both English and maths
  • Elliott Parker was ecstatic to pass his GCSE English at the fifth attempt – gaining a grade 4
  • Sam Rynne achieved a grade 7 in English and a grade 5 in maths, as well as distinctions on the pre-access course
  • Adam Simms, with his tutor Ruth Blake, exceeded his own expectations by gaining a grade 5 in maths
  • Nathan Hicks celebrated a grade 4 in GCSE English language which he studied alongside the Level 3 in Public Services

National GCSE results day today (Thursday 22 August 2019) has seen it record an overall pass rate of 90.7%.

A total of 1,713 exams were sat across the three GCSE subjects offered at the college, producing the following pass rates:

  • 87.5% in biology – with 75% of students achieving grades 9-4
  • 88.8% in English
  • 92.5% in maths

There were 1,272 students that studied GCSEs at the college this year (2018/19), largely due to the government’s requirement for young people aged 16-18 that do not have a grade C or above in English and maths – grade 4 under the revised system – to re-take these subjects while in post-16 education.

The majority re-sat English or maths alongside their main programme of academic or vocational study. However, the college also has many adult learners who attend evening classes to gain GCSE qualifications they missed out on at school – usually to progress to higher-level study so they can re-train for a new career.

English, maths and biology were examined under the government’s revised GCSE grading system being phased-in by 2020. These subjects are now graded numerically, from 9-1, instead of the A*-G letter system. Grade 9 is the highest that can be achieved under the new system, set above A*. Grade 4 is a ‘standard pass’ broadly equivalent to a C grade, while grade 5 is considered a ‘strong pass’.

Almost a third of students either met or exceeded their target grades.

Principal and chief executive Andrew Cropley said: “Well done to everyone who has passed their GCSE maths, English or science today, whether they are adults looking to develop their careers or young people as part of their wider programmes. 

“These qualifications are vitally important and open up so many opportunities for those who obtain them, so I’m delighted to congratulate our successful students and to thank our dedicated and creative staff who are able to bring these subjects to life for these students to ensure they enjoy the subjects, understand their relevance and do themselves justice in the examinations.”

Sarah Radford, 46, from Forest Town, Mansfield, was delighted to achieve a grade 6 in both English and maths respectively, despite battling chronic health problems.

The mother-of-two was forced to give-up her job as a self-employed gardener and decorator in 2017 when her illnesses and conditions began to take their toll.

She explained: “I’ve been really poorly over the last couple of years. I was diagnosed with having Crohn’s disease and an under-active thyroid, and there’s a possibly I’ve got Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is quite a severe back and hip problem that affects my mobility and causes fatigue.

“I’ve been on-and-off medication, so it’s been a hard slog this year and there were a couple of times when I nearly gave up my studies – but I didn’t and it’s been worth it. I’ve put a lot of hard work in and it’s paid off.”

Sarah, who also has Asperger’s, was determined to gain GCSEs in English and maths after setting her sights on a career change.

She explained: “I’ve had to completely re-think my career because of my health problems. I’m now going to take a year out from studying to try and get on top of things medically before coming back to West Notts in September 2020 to study the Access to Sciences course. My aim is to work in medicine by becoming a medical researcher.”

Sarah, who has a grown-up son and daughter, paid tribute to her tutors and classmates for their support.

“My tutors, Helen and Charlotte, have been absolutely amazing and my classmates were fantastic,” she said. “We’ve had a really close-knit group in both classes and been very supportive of each other.

“I’m very proud of myself and my children will be thrilled at how well I’ve done.”

Kate Jaworek, 43, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, beamed with pride as she opened her results envelope, achieving a grade 7 in both English and maths.

She said: “My general qualifications were achieved back in Poland and I didn’t have a transferrable English qualification, so I wanted to study the GCSE here.

“Whenever I’ve studied NVQs at work, I’ve always had to do functional skills courses each time, so I thought it made sense to get my GCSEs. I didn’t have to do maths but I really like the subject so I thought I might as well try it.”

Kate, 43, came to the UK from Poland in 2008 with her son Greg, who is also celebrating having achieved good grades in his A-levels.

She combined her studies with working full-time in the legal team at King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Kate added: “I began working in the housekeeping team originally, then I got a placement in the complaints and litigation team, and later in the legal team. I’m going to be studying some legal training now I’ve got my GCSEs – it’s helped me to be able to progress.

“I’m looking forward to going home and sharing my news. Greg and I studied together, now we’re going to celebrate together!”

Elliott Parker, 18, was ecstatic to pass his GCSE English at the fifth attempt – gaining the grade 4 he hopes will unlock the door to an apprenticeship.

The teenager, from Mansfield, studied the GCSE alongside his main course – the Level 3 Electrical Installation.

After leaving school with a grade 3, Elliott went on to achieve the same grade in three successive re-sits at college – before finally passing at what he insists was “almost the last chance.”

He said: “I’ve always struggled with the subject. Everybody I know has a GCSE in English and I didn’t, which made me want to push forward to get the grade.

“As I’ve got further into my two-year college course, I’ve put more and more effort into getting the GCSE. This was almost the last chance for me.

“After four attempts, it felt like I had no hope of ever passing. But I decided to re-sit it for a fifth time to see how it went – and it’s lucky I did! Now, I don’t have the shadow hanging over me anymore. This means everything to me.

“I can now go on to do an electrical maintenance apprenticeship, if I get through the interview next week. Now that I’ve passed, I have the grades to go for the jobs that I want.”

It was an emotional morning for mother-of-three Sam Rynne, who opened her results envelop to reveal a grade 7 in English and a grade 5 in maths, as well as distinctions on the pre-access course.

In between tears, the 35-year-old, from Netherfield, Nottingham, said: “I am absolutely overjoyed! Back in school my maths and English were the old grade Ds, so I knew I needed to improve. Since school, I’ve been busy bringing up three children.

“Next year I want to study either sports science or personal training but I’m still deciding. I’m definitely carrying on with education. I’m a powerlifter so sport is very interesting to me, and I’m competing in my first ‘strong woman’ competition in Newcastle next month.

“My kids and husband have all been patient and supportive, and my husband completed his degree last year. I’ve made friends for life in my classes. We’ve all bonded so well and it’s been great spending lots of time together. My classes would often run from 9am to 8.30pm, as well as the 45-minute drive from Nottingham, but it’s been amazing.

“We’re all off to get a celebration breakfast before I go to the gym!”

Adam Simms, from Ravenshead, exceeded his own expectations by gaining a grade 5 in maths.

He said: “I never, ever thought I could achieve this in maths. During my skills for employment course at the college I had to do functional skills maths for two years, and now I’ve passed the GCSE – I’ve proved myself wrong!”

The 27-year-old, who works at McColl’s store in Blidwoth, studied Level 1 Hairdressing last year, alongside the GCSE, and is now having a break from studying.

His tutor Ruth Blake was there to celebrate with him. Ruth has seen Adam excel throughout the maths course, often working on extra study guides, completing past exam papers at home and getting one-to-one tuition.

She said: “Adam’s worked so hard and shown great dedication – he really was my star pupil.”

Seventeen-year-old Nathan Hicks, from Mansfield, has studied the Level 3 in Public Services alongside GCSE English language at the college.

Today, he smiled as he opened his results envelope – revealing a grade 4.

He said: “I only got a grade 3 in GCSE English at school so I’m delighted to pass. I’m looking forward to coming back to college for my final year in September. My ultimate goal is to work in the army as a medic. I hope to apply next year when I turn 18.

“It will require more studies but now I’ve got this qualification, it unlocks more doors to the future. I’ve done a lot of research into becoming an army medic and I’m looking forward to aiming for this goal.”

West Nottinghamshire College offers a large range of academic and vocational courses, from GCSEs and A-levels to NVQs, BTECS, HNDs, HNCs, foundation degrees and full honours degrees.

Anybody interested in studying at the college should call 0808 100 3626.