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Emotional moments at City College as determined students achieve their goals

12 August 2021 | College News

There were some emotional moments at City College Plymouth this morning when students were invited to the campus to collect their GCSE and level 2 BTEC results. 

This academic year, the College supported almost 900 students through GCSEs in English, maths, biology and chemistry, with some studying GCSEs as part of their full-time study programme, whilst others were returning to education later in life.

Aged 16 to 62, together the students achieved an overall pass rate of 99%, with 58% gaining a higher pass. The College is hugely experienced in supporting students of all ages, some of whom haven’t been in education for many years. 

In addition to the overall success, City College would also like to share some of the individual stories of hard work, determination and overcoming adversity. 

Clive Rowe, 58, English 5, maths 5 

The 58-year-old Big Issue seller is a popular character in Plymouth and beyond. Often joined by his much-loved pooch Geezer, Clive has been selling the magazine outside the Theatre Royal since 2016.

Having fallen in love with the theatre environment, Clive started getting involved in acting and that led him to City College Plymouth to study for his GCSEs with the view of progressing to university in the near future.

Having faced so many challenges in his lifetime, including homelessness, poor self-confidence, bipolar disorder and various barriers to education, Clive was delighted to gain grade 5s in English and maths. 

Clive said: “I was hopeful for at least a grade 4 in maths, but I was ecstatic to see grade 5s for both as I wasn’t sure whether I would get a grade 4 in English. I’m not sure I’ve taken it in yet. 

“The lecturers at City College are absolutely fantastic. I have always received excellent support from them; they genuinely care about their students and want to see them succeed. I’ve made some really good friends on this course – you get people from all different backgrounds and they just want to help each other. It’s such a friendly environment here at City College. 

“I’m now looking to study an Access course but having also gained a grade 5 in English, I feel I have even more options now, and I am really hopeful for the future.”

Caley Mead, English 9, maths 5

Mum of four Caley is due to study midwifery in September, but the 32-year-old needed to gain a grade 4 or above in both English and maths in addition to completing an Access to Higher Education Diploma. 

On finding out she had gained a grade 9 – the highest grade possible – in English, Caley modestly said “there must be some mistake”.

Caley, whose children are aged 13, 6, 4 and 11 months, said: “It hasn’t always been easy doing two GCSEs, an Access course and having the children. My youngest was only one month when I started my English course, and trying to juggle breastfeeding alongside my Access lectures was tricky at times. But I knew I had to get it done.”

Caley opted to do her maths GCSE entirely online and chose to do the express course, meaning she only started studying for it a couple of months before the assessments were due to take place. 

“One of the good things to come out of the pandemic – possibly the only good thing in fact – is how much more accessible education is becoming. If you have children or if you are working, being able to access your studies online means so many more people can now complete these qualifications.

“If you don’t have a grade 4/C in English or maths already, it is free. You really have nothing to lose, and the staff at the College are very supportive and helpful, so if you’re thinking about it, just go for it.”

Mobina Shahi, 19, maths 8

Mobina, 19, has a passion for learning that has kept her motivated since moving to the UK from Iran in September 2019.

Within days of arriving in the country, Mobina had enrolled on a English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course. Due to her incredible determination, Mobina quickly worked through her ESOL course, going on to complete Functional Skills courses in maths and English.

Having completed her maths Functional Skills and feeling more confident with her English, Mobina started studying for GCSE maths earlier this year. As an aspiring engineer, a grade 4 in maths was crucial, but Mobina, who was joined by her parents, was delighted to achieve a grade 8.

Mobina said: “I haven’t always found studying in a different language easy, but I love learning and that has kept me motivated. I have had an excellent time here at City College. My lecturers, particularly Heather, have been amazing.

“I’m now planning to do an Access to Engineering Diploma and I can’t wait to get started.”

Mobina, who also completed Level 2  Functional Skills English, was awarded the English and Maths Student of the Year at City College after impressing her lecturers with her self-motivation and exceptional work ethic. 

Colin Hamilton, 57, maths 4

Colin was overjoyed to gain a grade 4 in maths having already attempted three times. Like many, school didn’t come easy to Colin, who had to leave his job at the dockyard due to poor health. 

In need of a new career, Colin decided he wanted to find one that involved helping others and he has already completed a Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care and an Access to Higher Education course in health and social care. 

Colin achieved a grade B in his English in 2017, but his three attempts at maths had always been that little bit short having gained a D each time. So to achieve his grade 4 today was a proud moment for Colin, who said: “City College wouldn’t let me give up on myself. They won’t let you fail; as long as you give a little yourself, they will give so much more.

“We’re so lucky to have a facility like City College Plymouth where they will do whatever it takes to see you achieve your goal, even if it does take a little while. I’m really grateful for their support.”

Colin is currently doing an MSc at Plymouth Marjon University in psychology having done a degree in health and social welfare.

Madison David, 24, English 7 

Landlady Madison has spent the past few years running The Prince of Wales in Princetown with her partner, Jan. 

Whilst she has enjoyed hospitality, Madison would love to be a nurse, and is now well on her way to achieving this ambition after gaining a grade 7 in English. 

Having grown up in India, Madison returned to the UK at the age of 13 and found the transition hard. She left school at 16 after gaining only a couple of GCSEs graded C or above, and a D in English. 

Madison said: “I hated school after moving back from India; I had no interest whatsoever. My younger sister was very premature at birth and has had a few health problems, and I think this might be why I’ve had an interest in healthcare. 

“I completed an Access to Nursing Diploma but I also needed to get my English. I’m delighted with this result and I would thoroughly recommend City College to anyone who wants to study as an adult. 

“You do worry a little at the very start that you might be the oldest one, but that’s not the case. There are people of all ages here and the College knows how to support its older students.”

With the pub closed for much of the past year, Madison was able to focus on her studies; however, it was still a worrying time for her and her partner. 

Madison said: “It has been quite stressful with all the uncertainties – to add to the stress, the pub flooded, too. But I am so pleased I can say that I have now done it and I look forward to starting my degree.”

Michael Quantrill, 62, Chemistry, 5 

After retiring early from factory work, Michael decided instead of putting his feet up he would jump back into education. With a keen interest in the natural world and preserving the planet, Michael wanted to do his bit so started an Access to Science course at the College. Today he opened his GCSE results in the hope of achieving the grades he needed to study Environmental Conservation at the University of Plymouth. 

“At 62, you think you’ll be sitting with your feet up and enjoying retirement but I wanted to do more. I really wanted to explore my interest in the natural world but never thought I would be able to return to education. 

“I don’t think you can ever be too qualified and that learning is lifelong. All I can say is you just have to give it a go. I didn’t think I’d be where I am now, collecting my results and continuing my education but it is thanks to the College. 

“My tutors have been great, so supportive. They have kept me motivated throughout the pandemic and I can’t thank them enough for helping me achieve the grade I needed. 

“I plan to find my niche and try to make a difference to the ever changing planet.”

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