Students participating in a college programme for young people aged 14-16 have been praised for their success at GCSE. The students are part of the North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) Inspire programme, an alternative to traditional mainstream schooling.

Twenty students were awarded GCSE grades in five subjects based on the higher of their tutor’s predicted grade or the exam boards’ calculated grade. In line with the national picture, calculations were based on a blend of college predictions, historical results, and national data.

The students, who have faced multiple barriers to learning, performed particularly well this year despite the challenges of the coronavirus lockdown. The Year 11 students, from a variety of backgrounds across Warwickshire and the West Midlands, have been studying for GCSEs and functional skills as part of NWSLC’s Inspire programme in a way that supports their individual needs. Subjects studied were English, maths, geography, science, and modern ethics.

For students on the Inspire programme, the overall pass rate for English language and maths was 80 per cent, with 45 per cent of students achieving a grade 4 or above in English, and 35 per cent achieving a grade 4 or above in maths. Across the five subjects 16 per cent of students achieved grades 5 to 7.

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC said, “Traditional schooling is not for everyone and some of our students have experienced difficult circumstances and significant challenges. The lockdown period was always going to be more difficult for this group of students, many of whom are vulnerable or have Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). These students have really risen to the challenge and shown enormous determination. We congratulate them all on their results today and wish them well for their future success.”

Students who achieved well include George Cleaver who was awarded a double grade 6 in science, grade 5s for English language, maths and geography, and a grade 4 for religious studies. George joined the college from Bilton High School in Rugby in the summer before he began Year 11. George is one of the highest achieving students within Inspire and worked very hard, taking part in every mock exam in January, and completing every paper to the last question. George now plans to move on to Warwickshire College on either a carpentry or tree surgeon course.

George said, “Thank you to Inspire for all the support. To other students out there, I would say, do not just think that mainstream school is the only place you can achieve your GCSEs, and do not give up”.

Chloe Beech was awarded a grade 5 for English language, a double grade 4 for science, grade 4s for maths and religious studies, and a grade 3 for geography. Chloe has been with Inspire for two years, in both Years 10 and 11. Chloe made significant progress during her time on the programme and has regained focus, built many positive relationships and become one of Inspire’s star students.

In January 2020, Chloe won the Rising Star award for students aged 14-16 as part of the college’s celebration of achievement event. Chloe has secured a place at Rugby College to study A Levels in sociology, psychology, law and criminology. Her long-term goal is to go to university, and she aims to follow a career in forensic psychology.

Chloe said, “The team at Inspire gave me the most supportive and friendly experience of education that I have ever had. I would not have achieved these results without the staff there and I am so very grateful. Thank you.”

Jakk Beaman secured a double grade 5 for science, grade 4s for English language and maths, a grade 3 for geography and a grade 2 for religious studies. Jakk has been with Inspire in both Years 10 and 11 having joined from the Nuneaton Academy. Jakk is a bundle of energy who has kept everyone entertained in Inspire and will be sorely missed by the whole team. When he started in Year 11, he made it clear that he was serious about his GCSEs and wanted to create a positive future for himself. During lockdown Jakk worked very hard, attending college three days a week to complete further assessments and secured himself a job with Royal Mail to support valuable key work during the pandemic. Jakk has gained a place on a carpentry course at NWSLC.

Jakk said, “From my experience the education and support is much better here because of the smaller class sizes and how much the team support you. I would not have got the same grades if I had stayed in mainstream school. Thank you to everyone in Inspire.”

Jakk’s mum, Nadine said, “I am absolutely blown away by Jakk’s results. Two years ago, I was so worried about his future, but he was lucky enough to be given a second chance with Inspire and thanks to his hard work and determination, and the immense amount of support from all his tutors, he has done better than we ever expected. The support he has received has made a huge difference not only to his grades but also to his self-esteem.”

Anyone who has not yet applied for a college course can still apply online. Advice and guidance teams will be available for anyone who is not sure about their next steps after they have received their GCSE results. You can talk to the team live via the college website or call 0330 058 3000 to speak to an advisor.