Richmondshire students at Barnard Castle School get top grades

Alex Thompson, Alice Hunter and Rachel Elphick.

Richmondshire students attending Barnard Castle School were rewarded for their efforts and are celebrating achieving their first choice universities after securing top grades.

Students at the school were full of praise yesterday for the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which helped them impress admissions officials at their chosen universities.

Alex Thompson gained an A* after taking a detailed look at the correlation between junk food advertising and obesity in children.

My primary research didn’t work out because I used our prep school,” she said.

“Because our school dinners are healthy and the children so active, it didn’t really match national results that show there is a link between junk food ads and child obesity, but it was fascinating.”

Alex, 18, of Richmond, plans to take a gap year to study another A Level in chemistry before seeking to do bio-medicine at university.

For her EPQ Alice Hunter looked at animal holistic therapy and the impact on dementia. Her studies revealed that animals can calm patients and release higher levels of the hormone oxytocin – but only if the subject liked animals when they were young.

The 18-year-old, of Newsham, between Richmond and Barnard Castle, will read psychology at Oxford Brookes University. “The EPQ was great to do as you could choose anything you were interested in and study independently,” she said.

Budding writer and passionate Agatha Christie fan Rachel Elphick, 18, of Gainford, used her EPQ as the chance to write a murder mystery.

Set in the French town of Aix-Les-Bains, the story traces the investigations of a holidaying detective who stumbles across murder.

I set it in the 1920s and loved the research,” she said. “I produced mood boards for the costumes and sets and the research made the writing even more enjoyable.”

Rachel, who writes film scripts for the Stockton-based DJW School of Acting, will now read English and French at Nottingham University.

Headmaster Tony Jackson said: “We are thrilled to see that the number of students achieving A* has increased to the highest level since 2013 showing that they have been inspired in their learning this year.”