Congratulations to Sunderland's 'hands and heads students' - and advice for those considering an alternative to A-Levels

Tanveir Ahmad and Paul Iyere celebrating success in their BTEC Level 3 in Applied Science
Tanveir Ahmad and Paul Iyere celebrating success in their BTEC Level 3 in Applied Science
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As A-Level students' successes are being heralded around the city, education chiefs are keen to shine an equal spotlight on the cohort of technical students who have once again made the grade.

Sunderland College bosses say while the focus traditionally falls on students who have made it through their A Level courses today, the college is also celebrating the skills of its professional and technical students.

Principal Ellen Thinnesen said the 99.5% of college's BTEC students had passed their courses - and had "used their hands and heads" to achieve success.

Ellen said: “Very often, the focus is on A Level students, and technical students, who have worked just as hard, don’t get their chance to really celebrate their achievements.

“Every single student at Sunderland College is supported to leave here as the best version of themselves they can be, having achieved all that they are capable of. And we see that today, as our students prepare to take their next steps towards a successful career.

“What is vital though, is that we celebrate the achievements of all of our students, not just those who go down the A Level route. Of course, they deserve recognition for their success, but so too do technical students, who have used both their hands and their head to make it successfully through their course. All of our students deserve to celebrate today.”

Among the students to have made it through their professional and technical programme are Tanveir Ahmad, Paul Iyere, Megan Cooke, Claire Greenlay, Kieran Oliver, Nicholas Johnson and Rebecca Walley.

The students all studied for a BTEC Level 3 in Applied Science, and made it through with flying colours, achieving D*D*D* grades – the highest distinction marks available on the programme.

Tanveir, 19, who is now making his mind up whether to go on to Keele University to study Pharmacy or to study Medicine abroad, said: “I’m relieved and really happy with my results.

“I want people to know that there are other ways to get to university, not just A Levels. I have made it in to Keele University for Pharmacy, and that’s a really competitive course, so it shows you that universities are not just looking for A Level students. They look at all of the skills and experience you have.”

Megan Cooke, 18, has also made it to the university of her choice, having achieved top grades in her studies. She is set to pursue a degree in Animal Welfare and Behaviour at Harper Adams University in Shropshire.

She said: “I was not great in exams at school - I found I got stressed, and so didn’t perform as well as I knew I could – so I went down a BTEC route at the college and I am really glad I did. I have definitely achieved more than I could have if I studied A Levels and I really enjoyed my course.

“I would say to students who want to go to university, but are worried that A Levels are not for them, that they should not overlook a BTEC. It was definitely the best route for me.”

The college offers a wide range of BTECs – almost 40, including art and design, construction, IT and musical theatre - and it is one of a number of training options available to students who prefer a more hands-on learning experience.

Paul Iyere, 19, is heading to Keel University to study Pharmacy, with D*D*D* grades under his belt from his BTEC.

He said: “As I went through the course, I realised that it really suited my learning style, because it is much more coursework based than an academic route. I think at first, I just wanted to get through the course, but as it went on I pushed myself harder and I am really pleased with my results.

“The tutors at the college were really helpful – they guide you on the right path – and you discover so much about yourself during your time at college, as well as making friends who I am sure I will stay in contact with for life.”

Marianne Hill, curriculum leader for science and maths at Sunderland College, said: “These are exceptional students and deserve a huge amount of credit for their hard work.

“We are thrilled with the grades our students have made this year; they are a credit to the students, and reflect the sheer hard work of the lecturers who work tirelessly to help our young people achieve what they are capable of. The whole team is rightly proud today.”

To find out about Sunderland College’s professional and technical courses, visit www.sunderlandcollege.ac.uk, call 0191 511 6000 or email info@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk.