Celebrating Success for Darlington College Plumbing Student

A PLUMBING student who missed school from Year 9 is celebrating after tapping into a college’s teaching resources.

Darlington College student Stewart Ward not only secured his Level 1 plumbing but also managed to gain grade 4 in both maths and English GCSEs despite living with hypermobility syndrome.

The condition affects the joints and means that Stewart struggles to write well as he has difficulty manipulating a pen.

But with the support of tutors and using a computer to write, the 18-year-old, of Darlington, reached his personal milestones, including a merit in spoken English.

He said: “I thought I’d better try college and staff were so friendly and welcoming. I wanted to take plumbing and also needed maths and English and I came away with all three. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to Level 2 plumbing now and hopefully find an apprenticeship.

“The tutors are great and we have always got on. I have learned so much and my family are delighted. When I first started at college I was really quiet, I literally didn’t speak to anyone. But now I have made friends and it has boosted my confidence and self-esteem. It has made me realise that I can do anything I set my mind to.”

Curriculum manager for English and maths Lois Calvert had high praise for Stewart who started the courses a month late but didn’t miss a single day at college.

“Stewart has been an absolute superstar and never missed a lesson. He has worked so hard and even became involved with the student committee.”

Stewart was one of many Darlington College students who achieved their personal goals with the help of the English, maths and ESOL (English as a second or foreign language) departments.

“We have had a number of students go up several grades in just a year,” Mrs Calvert said. “Some went from 2s and 3s to secure 6s. We have smaller class sizes and can tailor individual approaches to learning, so we can target areas of improvement and put in enhancement sessions and tutorials. Our staff even come in during the holidays to teach.

“We have a very dedicated team who stretch and challenge students and don’t allow them to give up, encouraging them to aim for the highest grade possible not just a pass.”

She said the college could have papers remarked if students missed passing by a few marks and could also help them discover where they might have gone wrong before resits in November. “We also work closely with our ESOL colleagues who are really skilled and provide excellent support,” she added.

“Some students can be reluctant at first because they feel disillusioned with learning. But our staff quickly build relationships and then they love coming to college. When you see students have a lightbulb moment it is so rewarding as the smiles spread across their faces. Many students go on to university which they could not have done without their maths and English, so it really is life-changing.”

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