Students from Carmel College in Darlington, a member of Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust, have overcome adversity and disruption to achieve personal enrichment opportunities and exam successes.
A young carer celebrated yesterday after managing to pass her GCSEs despite having to help look after her poorly mother, many siblings, overcome the death of her father and a serious injury. One of 13 children, Rosie Partridge secured seven GCSEs and is now planning to study children’s nursing after a tumultuous two years. Born in Bishop Auckland and after living in Stockton, she joined Carmel College, Darlington, in Year 10, after being out of school for two years.
Her dad Sonia sadly died of COVID aged just 35 and the family moved to Darlington to start afresh. Her mum Kerry lives with a variety of ailments including epilepsy, Fowler’s syndrome and a broken back and Rosie is her registered carer. As well as looking after her mum she has 12 siblings, seven of which live at home, who she helps look after. She also walked into a fish tank in the dark, severing tendons in her foot.
“It has been a challenging two years, especially when dad died, but also a lot of fun,” said Rosie, 16. “I thought I had failed everything, so I nearly cried when I opened my results and had passed seven.”
Her mum said: “I am so proud of her. She has always been a fantastic support. She has been my little sidekick.”
Ukrainians Anastasiia Papsui and Ivanna Vasilstova, both 16, were also delighted with their results as they secured nine and 14 GCSEs respectively, having fled the war in their country. They were given the option to study a reduced timetable, but opted to take all the subjects on offer.
English teacher Amy Whittaker said: “I have never met two girls more determined, resilient and grateful. They are incredible.”
They are both living in Darlington with their mothers. Anastasiia’s father is still in Kyiv. Sadly, Ivanna’s dad was one of the ‘Heaven 100’ fighters killed in 2014 when the troubles first blew up with Russia.
She said: “We have had a really nice time at Carmel. The pupils and teachers have been so supportive and we have made lots of English friends. We are really pleased with our results especially as we have only been here a year.”
Top performing student Eleanor Mann, 16, of Darlington, gained eight 9s and two 8s and will stay on at Carmel College Sixth Form to study A levels in chemistry, biology, maths and French. “I’m hoping to study medicine or languages at university and one day would like to work abroad as a humanitarian doctor,” she said.
Maths genius Tom Curran secured a grade 9 in the subject last year at the age of just 13. The Year 10 pupil then taught himself GCSE further maths and was awarded another grade 9 yesterday after scoring 97 per cent in his exam. “I was always good at maths, but nothing special, then during lockdown I started studying algebra with my dad Mark and it really took off,” said Tom of Staindrop. “My dad and sister went to Cambridge, so I hope to go to one of the Oxbridge universities and my mum got the maths prize five years running when she was at school.”
His mother Emma added: “They really bonded during lockdown over algebra – it was like being on the set of the movie Beautiful Minds.”
Rugby star Ruby Creek was thrilled with her results after tackling her GCSEs alongside a busy schedule of sport. The 16-year-old, of Darlington, secured nine GCSEs and a distinction in sports studies. She will stay on at Carmel to study sport and public services. She started playing rugby aged 8 and now plays second row for Houghton as well as for the North East Centre of Excellence. She was recently selected to play at Malvern College against Saracens, Bristol Bears and Sale Sharks. Ruby is also an apprentice coach for the England Rugby Development Player Pathway and has her level 1 refereeing qualification. She said: “After studying sports coaching at university, my dream is to play for England and Harlequins or Saracens,” she said.
Netball player Eve Connor was also delighted after scoring four 9s, and 8, two 7s and a BTec distinction. The 16-year-old, of Darlington, is vice-captain of the North East Netball team as well as wing defence/centre for Grange Town Netball Club. Her dream is to play for her country in a World Cup. “My dad also plays for a men’s team and I have been coaching him,” she said. “He is getting better. I hope to study sports coaching at university and would love to play for a super league team as well as England.”
Singer Anna Pavey, 16, of Darlington hit a high note when she gained 10 GCSEs. The lead in the school’s ‘We Will Rock You‘ show, she has already recorded her own songs and is considering law as a career as well as the pop industry. “I find music is really good for mental health,” she said. “If I feel stressed I just write a song about it.”
Lighting expert Jacob Trotter also proved to be a bright spark when he secured 11 GCSEs. As well as studying, he has been involved back stage in a host of school shows, videos and photography. “Since lockdown I was determined to be involved in everything and have been helping out at lots of festivals over the summer including the Tall Ships festival at Hartlepool where I met Bob Marley’s bad, the Whalers.”
Bass guitarist Hubert Lewandoski and drummer Ollie Vitty also reached a crescendo after securing 11 and 10 GCSEs respectively. Members of the indie rock band ‘The Callows‘, they recently performed to a packed house at The Forum and have released a single on Spotify, ‘No More Time‘, which has had 1,600 plays.
“We hope our music careers take off as we really enjoy it,” said Olly. “We hope to play at festivals and release more songs.”
They both plan to stay at Carmel to study A levels. Hubert wants to study law at university and Olly read a maths degree.
Twins Eve and Sam Routledge, 16, of Walworth, have always been competitive. Sam just pipped his sister with 10 GCSEs compared to her nine and they will both stay at Carmel to study their A levels. Eve said: “We do get on really well, but we will see how we do at A levels.”
Cheer leader and gymnast Josie Kwok, 16, of Darlington, was head over heels after securing top grades in her GCSEs. She will now study maths, chemistry, biology and physics A levels at Carmel College. She has a particular interest in anti-racism and may study law at university. She said: “I love tumbling and the cheer leading has been great alongside my academic work.”
Alice McAdam, 16 of Darlington, gained five 9s, three 8s and two 7s and hopes to study pharmacology at university after taking her A levels at Carmel.
Poppy Harrison, 16, of Darlington, was delighted with her results – seven 7s, two 8s and a 9. She will remain at Carmel to study a Levels in English, RS and law.
Carmel College principal Mel Kane said: “It is amazing to see alongside these fantastic results how our pupils have overcome adversity, disruption from the pandemic and achieved outcomes that will help them stand out in their next steps. We really encourage and celebrate the additional enrichment opportunities that many of our students take part in alongside their academic achievement. Everyone who has contributed to this success should be really proud.”