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Sunderland College makes the A grade

There were plenty of cheers at Sunderland College as students celebrated another record-breaking year of A-Level results.

The college chalked up a 99 per cent A-Level pass rate for the seventh year running.

In total, 25 A-Level subjects achieved a 100 per cent pass rate including biology, English language and literature, business studies, geography, government and politics, German, Spanish and all visual and performing arts courses. And the college has also seen an increase in A*-C grades achieved by its students this year.

John Rushworth, assistant principal curriculum, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the success of our students this year. A-Level results day is always nerve-wracking, both for our students and staff, and it’s fantastic to know that the hard-work put in throughout the two years of A-Levels has paid off.

“We are very proud to achieve a 99 per cent pass rate for students who choose to study here at Sunderland College. This is the seventh consecutive year we have achieved this pass rate, which is testament to the high calibre students within the city and also to the first rate teaching, advice and guidance, and facilities we have. Sunderland College is the largest provider of A-levels and the top performing college in the region, so it’s no surprise that more students choose to study their A-Levels with us, than anywhere else in the North East.

“It is always sad to say goodbye to our students, but it’s very rewarding to know we have supported them throughout their time at college and helped them develop their skills and knowledge. Their experience at the college will stand them in good stead for the future and we are confident that our students will go on to achieve great things.”

More than 800 Sunderland College students faced the anxious wait to find out if they had made the grade and secured a place at university.

Twins Matt and Emma Wylie, 18, from Teal Farm in Washington, were among the students collecting their results today.

Paralympic hopeful Matt, a swimming athlete who became double Euro Junior champion and British national champion in 2014, achieved A and C grades in his law and PE A-Levels.

The eight-time British record holder will be going to the University of Sunderland to study sport science, however he will be deferring his place for a year to focus on training for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

He said: “I decided to study at Sunderland College as it gave me more support to perform my sport in comparison to other sixth forms in the area.

“I believe that the college has enabled me to succeed and progress in my sport – not only with crucial financial support, funding me on two overseas training camps, but by allowing me to reduce my A-Level commitment in my second year. This was also supplemented by the helpfulness of all my teachers allowing me to catch up on missed work outside of lesson time.”

Matt, who attends nine swimming sessions and four gym sessions – totalling 26 hours of training – each week, added: “It would be a massive achievement to qualify for the Rio Paralympic Games, and I feel that I will have the capabilities to win senior international medals in the coming years leading into the Tokyo games in 2020.”

Outside of his swimming commitments, Matt is interested in working in sport as a coach or sport scientist once he completes his studies at university.

Emma, Matt’s sister, suffers from ME and achieved excellent A-Level results despite battling the chronic illness throughout her studies.

Just a couple of months before her exams, Emma had a relapse and suffered from extreme fatigue and severe weakness in her legs which resulted in her using a wheelchair. However the determined student went on to gain two A*s and a C in her law, psychology and history A-Levels, and she will now be moving to Leeds University to study criminology and criminal justice.

She said: “I am excited to go to university and I’m looking forward to living in a new city and sharing this experience with my new flatmates.”

Emma, who is interested in working in criminal justice, took part in lots of voluntary work while studying at the college, including with the North East Disability Swim Club, where she assisted a quadruple amputee at the national championships.

She added: “I will miss the support network the college has given me throughout my studies due to many absences, it was important that I had a strong relationship with my lecturers.”

Another star student Gavin Taylor secured a place at Durham University to study maths after achieving three A*s and one A in his two further maths, maths and physics A-Level subjects.

He said: “I am most looking forward to learning more about maths at a much higher level and meeting more people, who share similar passions about the subject and engaging in conversations with them.”

Student Natalie Blyth is also celebrating today after achieving straight As in her chemistry, biology, English and dance A-Levels.

She will be taking up a place at Newcastle University to study biomedical genetics.

The 18-year-old from South Hylton said: “I loved going to Sunderland College. I made the best friends and have had some amazing times at college. The lecturers have been so supportive and helpful whilst ensuring you have the best time you can learning. They are so friendly and easy to approach, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much without their help and support. Even though A-Levels have been stressful, I’ve made some amazing memories while studying for them. People told me that school is the best days of your life and everything went downhill from there, but I’ve loved college so much more than school!”

As she approaches the start of university, Natalie is looking forward to the new experience. She added: “It’s slowly sinking in that I’m an adult now and have to look after myself which is terrifying but I can’t wait to get out there and experience new things.”

Sunderland College, which was recently awarded the quality national Matrix Standard for advice and guidance for the fourth time in a row, teaches more than 30 A-Level subjects, and is also well-known for its wide range of professional, vocational and higher education courses.

The college teaches more than 1,500 vocational students and secured a 99 per cent pass rate for BTEC qualifications this year.

John added: “As well as achieving excellent A-Level results, it is important to also recognise the outstanding vocational results our students have attained.

“We deliver a high standard of teaching across the board and we are continually investing in our facilities to ensure our students have the very best learning environments. Last year we opened our state-of-the-art sport and visual and performing arts buildings at Bede campus and we are currently building City Campus, a flagship vocational campus in the city centre.

“This campus will teach courses in engineering, manufacturing, construction trades, automotive trades, travel and tourism, hair and beauty, and catering and hospitality. It will also feature a range of commercial facilities such as hair, beauty and barbering salons, a bakery, a travel agency, a restaurant and a car repair service, which our students will work in to gain practical experience.

“We are looking forward to being part of the city centre helping to bridge the skills gap in the region, particularly in the STEM and digital sectors.”



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