Students and staff were reunited at Barrow Sixth Form College to celebrate their A Level achievements in an unprecedented year for education.
The sixthformers returned to the Rating Lane campus for results day to discover their grades and plan exciting futures at university, in higher apprenticeships and in employment.
For many, it was the first time they had been back on campus since lockdown at the end of March and there was joy and relief in the atmosphere as they spoke to senior staff about their next steps.
Around 200 students will now leave college having secured the next step on their chosen career path.
Head of Sixth Form Helen Gibson said it had been a challenging year for students and staff as they awaited the grades.
“Our students worked so hard to prepare for their exams and were all ready to sit them when we went into the unprecedented situation of lockdown.
“We wanted to ensure that they complete their time with us on a positive note and inviting them in today with social distancing measures in place means they can share their news with their tutors and friends or get advice on what to do next.
“They are the first, and hopefully only, students in history who will be getting their grades during a global pandemic and we know that the resilience and commitment they have shown in the circumstances means they will be able to achieve anything in future.
“Staff have also played a major role during this time and I’d like to thank them for really stepping up and putting in all the extra work to ensure today was possible.”
Twins Cameron and Jason Pollock, both 17, who joined sixth form from St Bernard’s, were among those celebrating after both securing their first-choice university places. Cameron was the college’s top achiever after sweeping the board with A*s in maths, further maths and physics and will go to Loughborough University to study a degree in automotive engineering. Jason achieved AAC in geography, chemistry and maths and secured a place to study geology at Aberdeen. They also both completed the extended project.
Cameron said: “I’m really into Formula 1 so I want a career in motor sport. At first, I thought it might be unrealistic, but I can’t see myself doing anything else. I’m really happy with my grades.”
Jason said: “I’m planning to study Geology at St Andrew’s. I’m interested in volcanology, the study of volcanoes, but I’ll use my time at university to find out what I want to do. It’s a relief getting my results but I’m happy.
“Our family are really happy. They’ll have two different places to visit when we’re at uni, but it’ll be quieter at home from now on!”
Cameron added: “It’ll be weird being apart, but we didn’t have any classes together at college. We’ll see each other during the holidays. Jason starts university before me, so I’ll wave him off and then he can give me some tips on the first weeks of uni.”
Owen Wilson was over the moon with A*s in maths and further maths and an A in physics. The former Furness Academy pupil will now go to Manchester University to study a degree in maths. “I’m very happy to get what I needed, I’d not really thought about things as we have been off so long. The tutors at sixth form were all brilliant, I cannot fault them and I’m excited to start university.”
Former St Bernard’s students Katie Pugh, Brandon Yung, Harry Smith and Ellie McCabe were also among the high achievers. Katie will go to Durham University after getting A*AA in chemistry, maths and physics, Brandon achieved A*ABB in maths, physics, design and technology and further maths and has his dream apprenticeship in nuclear engineering at BAE Systems. Harry Smith’s four top grades means he can take up a sought-after higher apprenticeship in procurement also at BAE Systems.
Amy Spry’s four top grades means she is going to university to do a law degree after joining sixth form from Chetwynde School. Charlotte Magee, who went to Dowdales, is off to Salford University to do a media degree. Alex Mosley’s four A Level grades secured his place to do medicine at Lancaster University while fellow Millom student Joe Lomas achieved top grades in computing, maths and physics.
It was not just A level results that were being celebrated. Twins Megan and Caroline Baynes are going to do degrees in child nursing at Edge Hill and biomedical science at Keele University (respectively) after studying a range of A levels, CTECs and BTECs to secure their UCAS points.
Megan said: “I was super nervous but excited. I opened my results really quickly once I got them and I’m happy. We’ve kept up with our studies during lockdown as we thought that was important.”
Caroline said: “I’m happy with my results. Our family are excited for us but they’re going to miss us when we go to university. We have lots of great opportunities ahead.”
Megan added: “We’ll miss each other, but we’re only one hour apart so we’ll still see lots of each other.”
Professional rugby player Rio-Osayomwanbo Corkill got the highest grade of distinction* in CTEC Business said: “I knew I’d done everything I could and tried my hardest, and I’ve done the best I could have done. My tutors have been great and very supportive. I’m coming back to sixth form in September to study IT alongside my rugby career with St Helens R.F.C.”
Assistant Principal for Curriculum Sue Hannan said students who felt they had been downgraded were advised to appeal through the Government’s new process, introduced this week, where they have a number of options to choose from, including using mock grades and the opportunity to return and sit an exam in the Autumn term at sixth form.
“We will be supporting our students who want to appeal their grades. It has not been a straightforward year by any stretch and our aim is to ensure each gets the outcome they deserve, we don’t want anyone to be disadvantaged by the fact they are the class of 2020.”