Wensleydale School and Sixth Form celebrates students’ success

From left, with David Poole, LWBN, Emily Scott Christophe Ellis, the Sixth Form Lead

The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form is celebrating its students’ success following an overhaul of the post-16 curriculum two years ago.

The students have all passed their exams and will go on to university or to work with local businesses.

They are the first cohort to complete the new business-focused curriculum through the school’s business and innovation centre, through which students complete a business B-TEC which is the equivalent of two A-Levels, and complement this with an A-Level or AS-Levels of their choice.

With 50 per cent of students going on to higher education and the others going to work with local businesses either through employment, higher apprenticeships or apprenticeships, the school has deemed the new sixth form provision a success.

Student Emily Scott who got a double distinction in her business Business B-TEC, along with qualifications in IT, Psychology and an extended project qualification (EPQ), is going on to study psychology at St Johns York following a gap year.

She said: “I think the new sixth form provision was a fantastic idea, I was really impressed when the school pitched it to us, it gives us a bit of an edge over other sixth forms and we can use it to not only get qualifications, but get some practical skills we’ll need that will put us ahead in life.”

Headteacher Julia Polley is extremely happy with her students’ successes.

She said: “This is our first cohort through our new and innovative business post-16 centre.

“The students have overcome all the issues this year to achieve at a very high level and justifiably go on to some amazing post-18 destinations.

“We are so proud of our school and business community for supporting us in this endeavour, as it is totally the right decision to offer bespoke business education in the Dales.”

This comes off the back of an unprecedented year for the students who were unable to finish the academic year in the conventional way due to the pandemic.

Julia thinks this has had little impact on the students because of the modular nature of the B-TEC course.

She added: “At The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form we had already completed our second round of mock exams, just a week before lockdown and we’re therefore very confident in predicting grades for our students this summer.

“Our Year 13s continued to work on incomplete units throughout lockdown and had already completed three quarters of the course. It is right that they are rewarded  for the whole course of study and teachers who teach them know them best!

“However there is some concern about the distortion of grades which is disgrace for schools who have worked so hard to improve standards.”

Olivia Eyre, who has already started her higher apprenticeship with local accountant Walter Dawsons.

Of the results, sixth form lead, Christopher Ellis said:“I’m absolutely delighted. It’s been an up and down two years and Covid has topped that off, but we’ve got a strong set of results.

“It just proves it was the right decision to change the provision and the types of qualifications we’re offering matches out students and allows them to go on to the type of destinations they want to get to

“On top of this, it’s also adding to the local economy in ensuring young people are staying in the dale because they have the qualifications and know there are the opportunities around for them to stay here, rather than having to go to bigger cities to achieve what they want to achieve.”

As part of the school’s entrepreneurial offering, each student had access to a mentor and work experience which was organised through local business group, the Lower Wensleydale Business Network.

David Poole, who played a pivotal role in the partnership described today’s results as a “tremendous success”.