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Success in adversity: Leeds City College students tell their stories to the world

Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College students have been sharing their Level 3 results and experiences with the world.

The national story might have been about the fall in top grades, as marking returned to the pre-pandemic standard, but here in Leeds there was plenty of positive news to share.

So our T Level, A level and BTEC students spoke to national and regional TV, radio and newspaper teams on Thursday 17 August about how they had done - and their plans for the future.

Many mentioned how rewarding their time at college had been, despite the challenges of not being able to sit their GCSE exams (due to covid) and an ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

T Levels: a ‘great career option’

Jodie Powell was one of our first wave of T Level learners to have completed their course, and gained a distinction.

Jodie, who studied Education and Childcare, was pleased she chose the new qualification, which includes a blend of classroom learning and industry placements.

She said: “I chose my T Level because it leads you, unlike A levels, straight into a career option and I felt it was very much streamlined to where I wanted to go.”

She also enjoyed the different learning style, which was less focused on exams. She said: “For anyone considering a T Level I’d say go for it, it was definitely one of the best options I could have chosen.”

Jodie will now head to York St John University to study primary education, with a view to becoming a Reception teacher.

Coping with the ongoing impact of Covid

Efe Emenuwe, meanwhile, excelled at her A levels despite having no recent experience of sitting a national exam, and is looking forward to studying law at the University of Manchester after taking a gap year.

Speaking to a visiting BBC News crew about not having GCSE exam experience to draw upon, she said: “It’s been weird but after the first exam I got used to the flow of it and the idea of sitting A levels.

“And besides, with the mocks and testing we had and all of that…I guess practice makes perfect!”

The best of both worlds

Health T Level student Jessica Rollinson-Harris, meanwhile, got the result she needed to have the choice of going on to university or taking up an apprenticeship.

Jessica’s course included a six month, two-day-a-week placement at a nursing home during her second year which she found invaluable.

Explaining her decision to start a trainee nursing association apprenticeship with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, she said: “The money aspect was a big part of my decision but then the on-the-job learning as well and the experience you get from it.”

She would also recommend T Levels to anyone considering one, adding: “The placements were amazing.”

Advice from an inspirational student

Double award winner Juwairia Junaid was born blind so has had additional barriers to overcome, and uses extra technology to pursue her studies.

Juwairia has just passed her Level 3 Diploma in Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care and will now begin an access course so she can study mental health and counselling at university.

Full of praise for the college, she had these words for anybody thinking of studying here: “Definitely do it! The teachers are great and if you ever need help with anything just ask because they’re always willing to help.

“Work hard, but not to the point that you’re going to drain yourself.”

A tremendous effort

Luminate Education Group’s Deputy CEO Curriculum and Quality, Gemma Simmons-Blench, paid tribute to all of the learners and their teachers for dealing with the extra challenges of the past few years.

She said: “These students have overcome tremendous barriers to make it here.

“Many of them have suffered from anxiety coming back into education full time. We know nationally there are significant issues with attendance and it’s really heartening that they’ve got to this point, and they can hopefully enjoy themselves from this point on.”

Leeds City College currently offers T Levels in Business & Administration, Digital Production, Design & Development, Education & Childcare, Engineering & Manufacturing and Health & Science - with more on the way.

Referring specifically to the T Level students, Gemma added: “We’ve over 100 T Level students collecting their results today, and we’re absolutely thrilled with them.

“In the majority of the subjects we’re above the national rate for high grades, so we’re really pleased with that.

“Those students have been able to move on to really brilliant destinations: university, further apprenticeships and directly into employment.”

Please contact Jim Jack , Senior Communications Officer at Luminate Education Group