As thousands of students around the country open their highly anticipated GCSE results, Gillian Coleman, Rebecca Connelly, and Ryan Comasky are celebrating results that have been a long time coming, having left school without the qualifications many years ago.
The trio are among a handful of mature students who attended Middlesbrough College to gain their maths and English GCSEs, key qualifications that are essential for many higher education courses and careers such as teaching, nursing and engineering.
Gillian, 51, from Normanby in Redcar and Cleveland was inspired to change careers having felt let down by the lack of support for people on the autism spectrum like her son.
Having worked as a singer and entertainer for more than 20 years, Gillian enrolled on an Access to HE course at Middlesbrough College two years ago and is about to start the second year of the College’s Youth, Childhood and Community Studies degree.
Alongside her studies, Gillian resat her English and maths GCSEs and was ecstatic to open her results to discover top grades this morning – a 7 in English and a 5 in maths.
She said: “I left school with an O Level in art so to know I’ve finally achieved my maths and English GCSEs is incredible – it just proves it’s never too late to go out there and do it."
“It’s been difficult having to balance revision with studying full time and home schooling throughout the pandemic but everyone at the college has been so supportive. I’m so glad I chose to study here.”
Rebecca, 25, from Middlesbrough, has spent the past seven years raising her three children, but when her youngest started school full time last September, she knew it was finally time to pursue her dream of becoming a midwife.
Hoping to secure a spot on an Access to Health course at Middlesbrough College this September, the single mum studied for her English and maths GCSEs at the College and was ‘over the moon’ when she opened her results this morning.
“I got a 6 in English and a 4 in maths, I still can’t believe it,” she said.
“The past 10 months have been incredibly difficult. Balancing lockdown, home schooling and revision has been stressful, and there have been tears, but my tutors have been brilliant. They knew my situation and were always there for me, whenever I needed anything.”
Rebecca will stay at Middlesbrough College to complete her Access to Health course with hopes of attending university to study for her midwifery degree.
She added: “I’ve always wanted to be a midwife, but I never thought I was good enough. These grades prove I am."
“My own experience giving birth was tough, and I felt let down by the support I received. This made me even more determined to qualify and be there for expectant mums in a way that I wish someone was there for me.”
Already working as a teaching assistant at a special needs school in Darlington, Ryan was inspired by his passion for helping others to climb the career ladder and become a qualified teacher.
The 25-year-old from Redcar was “over the moon” to achieve a grade 5 in English, having already secured his maths GCSE the year before – both essential qualifications needed to enrol in the SCITTS teacher training programme.
Upon opening his results, he commented: “I’m trying not to get emotional – it’s such a relief.
“There has been so much uncertainty around the pandemic, and it’s been a big hurdle that we’ve all had to overcome. It has also been difficult to balance working full time with studying for my GCSE, all while also trying to have an active social life to improve my mental health – but the hard work has paid off."
“The College staff have also been great – they’ve always gone above and beyond, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Middlesbrough College has seen around 2,000 students sit their maths and English GCSEs with this year’s cohort comprising recent school leavers resitting their GCSEs alongside their chosen vocational course as well as adult learners that are looking to get back into education or kick-start their dream career.
Kate Burgess, English and maths manager at Middlesbrough College, said: “We are delighted with the GCSE results today and are incredibly proud of all of our students for their resilience and hard work during such a difficult year.
“English and maths are vitally important qualifications to gain and it’s fantastic to see so many students make progress and achieve the results they need. Our advice to any students that are disappointed with their results is don’t give up – come back to college and let us guide you to your goals.”