There were tears of joy at West Suffolk College as hundreds of students received their GCSE results today.
More than 1,100 students, aged from 16-18, resat their GCSE Maths and English exams, and more than 400 adults took the exams too.
For students like Sophie Wicks maths and English had become a real barrier.
Sophie, who has just finished the Health and Social Care Level 3 Extended Diploma, achieved a C in Maths at her fourth attempt.
She said: “I can’t believe I have managed to do it. I was really starting to think I would never do it but when I passed the mock I knew I had it in me.”
Sophie now dreams of becoming a nurse and is hoping to go to university.
A relieved Ehran Steele will read Physical Education at Chichester in September after receiving an A* in his GCSE English.
Ehran admits when he first sat his GCSE English at school he was not mature enough to take it seriously.
But he has now completed the college’s Sports and Exercise Level 3 Extended Diploma and, after volunteering at his former middle school as part of the work experience for his course, is inspired to become a PE teacher.
He said: “The attitude was so different here to school. I had a better attitude too and the teachers really helped me to do well. I’m so happy. I didn’t expect to get an A*.”
For others, taking the exams a little later in life has been the start of new friendships and adventures.
Pauline Tully, Katia Matess, Sarah Liming and Sara Aimes, all from Bury St Edmunds, became friends whilst studying for their GCSE Maths.
For Katia and Sarah it means being able to fulfil lifelong ambitions of becoming teachers.
Katia, who achieved an A, is starting a PGCE at UEA and Sarah, who achieved a B, is starting a PGCE at the University of Suffolk, Bury. ‘I’m so relieved. I can’t believe I have done it,” said Katia.
Pauline, who achieved an A, and Sara, who achieved an A*, did not need to do the GCSE but wanted to support their sons who were also sitting it at school.
They enjoyed it so much that they are going to come back to volunteer in maths classes at the college.
Sara said: “It was so much fun and we are now really great friends. I’m just so happy for them all doing so well.”
Despite a dramatic increase in the number of students sitting the exams, the college’s success rate for GCSE English remains over twice the national average.
Success rates for 16 year olds resitting maths have increased by 11 per cent compared to last year. Nationally, success rates have declined due to the new government requirement for all 16-18 years olds without a grade C or above to resit their exam.
Lindsey Johnson, Vice Principal of Curriculum and Quality, said: “I am delighted for our students who have done so well. The hard work of both the staff and students has really paid off. We are committed to promoting maths and English in all areas of learning and helping all students to achieve the very best grades they can.”