Hartlepool Sixth Form College


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Chemistry teacher nationally recognised for his outstanding contribution to education

A talented teacher has been nationally recognised for his outstanding contribution to the education sector. He not only helps his own A-Level students understand the complexities of chemistry in an innovative way, but his 19,800 subscribers around the world through his YouTube channel, MaChemGuy.

James Donkin, who lives in Roker, has worked as a chemistry teacher at Hartlepool Sixth Form for 12 years. He has been shortlisted for the Teacher of the Year award at the 2020 Tes FE Awards. These prestigious awards recognise the outstanding individuals and institutions in the further education sector.

Mark Hughes, Head of Hartlepool Sixth Form, said:

“We are immensely proud of James and his inspiring teaching methods. Being shortlisted for a prestigious national award is well deserved and recognises the outstanding impact he has on his students at Hartlepool Sixth Form and chemistry students from all over the world.

“He continually pushes the boundaries to improve student outcomes and his passion not only inspires successful results, but chemistry-related career focused destinations.”

James’s passion for chemistry, and his pioneering approach to teaching and learning, led him to creating videos in 2013 as a resource for his A-Level chemistry students to support their learning.

Starting with basic screencasts stored on the sixth form’s intranet site and addressing topics that students typically found difficult and would ask for further explanation, things quickly evolved and his YouTube channel ‘MaChemGuy’ was born.

To date, he has uploaded over 600 videos and MaChemGuy is a YouTube sensation with 19.8k subscribers, over 4.3 million views in 129 countries. He has received over 43,185 likes and thousands of positive comments from all around the world.

Stephen Exley, FE editor at Tes, said:

“Excellent practice exists right across the further education sector, and those shortlisted for the Tes FE Awards are the cream of the crop. Our judges were extremely impressed with the calibre of entries. To be shortlisted is an extraordinary achievement.”

Winners will be revealed at a gala awards evening, which will take place on Friday 20 March 2020 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. It is expected to be a spectacular event with more than 800 guests, including government ministers and high profile figures from the education sector.

Hartlepool Sixth Form merged with Sunderland College in 2017 and is part of Education Partnership North East, one of the largest college groups nationally. The dynamic college group also includes Northumberland College, following its merger with Sunderland College last year.

Hartlepool Sixth Form students rewarded at end-of-year celebration

Hartlepool Sixth Form celebrated the end of another successful year with a prestigious event to reward outstanding student achievements.

Students who had progressed from Hartlepool Sixth Form last summer, following successful completion of A-Level and BTEC qualifications, returned to be presented with prizes of achievements, and other special awards, at the annual awards ceremony.

Over 40 awards were presented to the class of 2019. Among the award winners was 18-year-old Oliver Lawton, who is now studying Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He scooped two prizes, A2 Physics Prize of Achievement and Principal’s Award for Academic Excellence. Oliver said:

“Winning the awards was a complete surprise! I was so happy to have been recognised for my hard work. I have enjoyed coming back into sixth form for the evening to celebrate with my friends and teachers. This place holds special memories for me so it was great to catch up with everyone.

“The teaching I received here was first class and my personal tutor helped me a lot with my university application and interviews.”

Oliver, who is no stranger to winning awards, was also crowned Student of the Year at last year’s Best of Hartlepool Awards.

19-year-old Jessica Bibby, was awarded the Applied Science Prize for Achievement and the Dorothy Lownds Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement. She is now studying Psychology at Durham University and hopes to progress to a career in child psychology. She said:

“It was amazing to win the awards! I was super surprised but delighted to be recognised. It was lovely to come back to sixth form. The support I received here was second to none and my teachers were always on hand to help me no matter what I needed. They pushed me to achieve and succeed and I am very grateful.”

Another award winner, 18-year-old Hannah Marshall, is currently taking a gap year after deferring her place at Northumbria University to study sports development until September 2020. She said:

“Receiving the Jubilee Trophy for Contribution for College Life was very unexpected. My teachers were always on hand to push me further with my studies, which helped me to achieve my full potential and getting involved in volunteering and extra-curricular activities has helped me to gain confidence.”

Mark Hughes, Head of Hartlepool Sixth Form, gave a speech during the awards ceremony, which reflected on the highlights of another successful year including gaining TASS (Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme) Accreditation, the creation of a new state-of-the-art digital academy and industry-standard health ward, being crowned College of the Year and excellent achievement rates.

After the awards ceremony, Mark commented:

“This annual event gives us all an immense sense of pride as we recognise and celebrate individual student achievements. Our students not only gain the qualification and knowledge they need to progress but also the values and behaviours to be successful in life.

Our class of 2019 are now studying at 36 different universities and higher education institutions with more than 20% of students now studying at prestigious Russell Group universities, which is testament to the hard work and dedication of both staff and students.

“It was great to see the students again and I am delighted that Hartlepool Sixth Form has taken them a step closer to their career and life ambitions.”

Guest speaker at the awards ceremony was local businessman Alby Patterson, who has achieved global success with his Hartlepool-based company Hart Biologicals. He gave an inspiring speech to the students and their families and friends. In addition, current music students Paige Capper, Nathan Clark, Hannah Jukes, Jack Mullinger, Jay Nelson, Andrew Randall and Benjamin Rayne entertained the audience with a selection of popular music hits.

TASS student-athlete wins two bronze medals at the Karate European Championships

Mollie Cooper, a TASS student-athlete, recently won two bronze medals at the Karate European Championships in Budapest.

Mollie competed in solo and team events in kata and fighting. She came away with fifth-place finishes in kata and team kata and the bronze medal in both fighting and team fighting.

She also got invaluable experience on the international stage that she can take into her next competition, coming up against athletes from Italy, Belgium, France, and Germany.

Mollie’s success in the European Championships came just a month after a successful experience at the British Championships, where she won four of her five fights and narrowly missed out on a bronze medal.

Tom Heselton, Lecturer in Sport and PE, said: “These experiences are fantastic for Mollie. She’s competing at a very high level in her sport, but it’s not just the outcome that’s the focus – the process of training for these events alongside her studies is giving her invaluable experience. Competing away from home in another country adds another challenge, and it’s so impressive that Mollie takes this all in her stride.”

Mollie added: “The event was a very positive experience. It identified where I need to focus my training and has really motivated me, as I can see the goal I’m working towards. I use every event as a positive learning experience no matter where I place, as there’s always something to improve on or learn about.”

Students follow in Bram Stoker’s footsteps with trip to Whitby

100 students attended a trip to Whitby to explore the historical seaside town as part of their studies.

English Literature students explored the setting of Whitby for their Gothic prose module whilst Sociology students considered their topic of sub-culture in the light of the recent Whitby Goth weekend. A-Level English Language students also attended the trip to look at the language of gravestones for their language change module and GCSE English students celebrated the completion of their November exam.

Lindsey Tennant-Williams, A-Level English Literature Teacher: “I have organised a Whitby trip annually since 2009 and it has become something of a course feature. Gothic texts remain a consistent element on the A-Level Literature specifications and we are lucky enough to live so close to Whitby that we can explore the town.

“The students were asked to trace the steps that a sleepwalking Lucy Westenra takes from The Crescent, down the West Cliff, to finally reach the Abbey where she is subsequently attacked by Dracula – and to take photographs of all the places that Mina Murray references in her attempts to catch her friend. These will be used to help us work through potential exam questions on setting for the upcoming prose exam. Students are, however, obviously encouraged to grab fish and chips and spend some time in the souvenir shops between these settings. As such, many of the photos we saw had a lucky duck in the background.”

English Literature students will start the reading of Dracula this month for homework with a detailed activity on the setting of Whitby planned for January. Photos taken on the trip by our students will be used to help the classes to visualise the scenes.

Jess Sharkey, Y13 A-Level English Literature student, added: “The Whitby trip really put the context of the novel into perspective. The text was written in the Victorian era, but seeing how important Dracula still is in Whitby’s modern-day culture was really interesting too. On the trip we got to see all the places referenced in the book which was extremely useful; I can now really imagine the place when I am re-reading the text.”

Hartlepool Sixth Form qualifies for national championship and unveils dynamic new partnership

Hartlepool Sixth Form is celebrating after several of its sport teams qualified for the AoC Sport National Championships 2020 on top of forming a dynamic new partnership with local women’s premiership rugby club.

The sixth form’s sports academies in basketball, netball and the newly-formed Women’s Rugby Academy beat off strong competition to represent Hartlepool Sixth Form and the North East region at the AoC National Championships, which will take place in April 2020. Two of the sixth form’s badminton players, Dan Liddell and Dom Barlow, also qualified.

The AOC Sport National Championship is the most coveted sporting event in the academic calendar, and the sixth form’s sports teams won their places after qualifying through regional tournaments throughout the year.

This year has been ground-breaking for the sixth form, with both the basketball and women’s rugby teams qualifying for the annual sporting event for the first time in the sixth form’s history. This tops off an exciting period for the women’s rugby team, which is one of only ten sixth forms in the country to be a DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) Academy for women’s rugby, following a dynamic new partnership formed by Hartlepool Sixth Form and premiership rugby club, Darlington Mowden Park (DMP) Sharks.

DiSE is a government-funded scheme designed to directly measure an athletes’ ability to plan, apply and evaluate their development in the appropriate aspects of rugby. The initiative is offered to athletes that have the potential to play at a top level and provides an elite environment to train in while continuing in full-time education.

As a result of the unique partnership, Hartlepool Sixth Form’s students will receive coaching from DMP Sharks’ coaches including Head of Programmes Justin Loveridge and Co-Head Coach Tamara Taylor. The Sports students will also receive strength and conditioning sessions from DMP coaches on a weekly basis.

Ian Hewitt, Hartlepool Sixth Form’s Sports Academies Co-ordinator, said: “This is an exciting time for Hartlepool Sixth Form. It is great to see new teams qualify for the National Championships and for us to continue to represent the region at a national level. It will be an amazing experience for our students and coaches.

“Additionally, our partnership with DMP Sharks continues to demonstrate that we deliver high-level sport performance programmes alongside an excellent education here at Hartlepool Sixth Form. The opportunity for our students to work with Tamara Taylor and Justin Loveridge on a weekly basis will help to take their development as rugby players to the next level.”

Justin Loveridge, DMP Sharks’ Head of Programmes, added: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Hartlepool Sixth Form’s rugby academy to help give talented athletes the opportunity to achieve their potential. I’m sure the partnership will enhance the playing opportunity and standard in the North.”

The AOC Sport National Championships will take place from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 April 2020 at the University of Nottingham’s David Ross Sports Village and will see Hartlepool Sixth Form’s sports teams compete against athletes from colleges across England and Wales.

Sophie Derbyshire, BTEC Sport and Exercise Science Level 3 student at Hartlepool Sixth Form is heading to the Championships. She said: “I am really excited to be competing in the National Championships with the Women’s Rugby Team. The Academy has grown massively since my first year and I think this opportunity will help us improve as players.”

Hartlepool Sixth Form is a Dual Career Accredited Centre by TASS (Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme) and continues to lead the way in offering a path for students wanting to study and play sport at an elite level. The sixth form recently celebrated excellent A-Level results, including an impressive 100% pass rate in 20 subjects including, Maths, English, History and Computing Science, with a total of 74% of students achieving the top A*- C grades. The student athletes can study A-Levels or vocational subjects and their attendance at the Academy fits around their full-time study programme.

STEM students visit Hart Biologicals

Students from Hartlepool Sixth Form were recently given the opportunity to get out of their classrooms and into a working environment.

Ten A-Level Biology and Chemistry students visited Hart Biologicals, which is engaged in research, development, manufacture and marketing of a range of in-vitro diagnostic products for use in the detection, prevention and monitoring or a number of medical related conditions.

The students took a tour of the facilities and attended a talk from staff about the vital work the company carries out into coagulation and platelet aggregation. They then followed this up by carrying out their own research into haemophilia A diagnosis by measuring factor VIII activity.

Students greatly valued the opportunity to see how theory studied at college is applied in lifesaving research such as haemophilia A diagnosis. They were also given an excellent insight into possible career pathways in both the scientific research and healthcare sectors.

James Donkin, Chemistry Tutor, said: “The visit to Hart Biologicals gave the students the opportunity to apply the theory learned in college to such important research. They were a credit to us, and I’m so proud of them all.”

A-Level Biology and Chemistry student, Elizabeth Greaves, said: “It was great to visit Hart Biologicals. The trip gave me an insight into what opportunities are available to me and jobs I could potentially do if I decided to do a degree related to biology. The trip also helped me to evaluate the different types of jobs available within the health care sector.”

Future scientists given insightful lecture from respected academic

Hartlepool Sixth Form’s students recently benefitted from an inspiring lecture from Astrophysicist, Dr Pete Edwards.

Dr Edwards, Director of Science Outreach at Durham University visited Hartlepool Sixth Form to deliver an inspirational talk to Physics students.

Dr Edwards delivered a fantastic lecture involving cutting-edge physics using gravitational waves which has led to the discovery of over 22 binary black hole events since April of this year.

Astrophysics is a branch of space science that employs the laws of physics and chemistry to explain the birth, life and death of stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae and other objects in the universe. It has two sibling sciences, astronomy and cosmology, and the lines between them blur.

The A-Level Physics students were given an insight of current physics at the level of new discovery and encouraged to broaden their vision by learning what a Physicist does.

Before delivering his lecture, Dr Edwards presented Physics student Daniel Liddell (pictured) with an award for ‘Outstanding Physics Student of the Year.’

Lisa Hall, Physics tutor, said: “Dr Edwards is a fantastic science communicator who delivers unparalleled enthusiasm about Physics. It was great to welcome him into the Sixth Form to deliver an inspiring talk to our students. A special congratulations also goes to Daniel Liddell who is an excellent student and deserving of such recognition.”

Mechanical Engineering student receives EDF Energy grant to attend university

Hartlepool Sixth Form student, James Shanks, will be attending university with the help of a grant from EDF Energy.

The Mechanical Engineering student completed his Physics, Maths and Chemistry A-Levels at Hartlepool Sixth Form and is going on to study Mechanical Engineering at Newcastle university.

James, who successfully entered the EDF mentoring programme during his time at Hartlepool Sixth Form, will now benefit from the sponsorship, consisting of work experience and a grant for his first year at university.

Mark Batey, Curriculum Manager of STEM, said: “James was a fantastic student throughout his time at Hartlepool Sixth Form. He had an incredibly positive attitude, worked hard and always took advantage of opportunities that came his way. I am not at all surprised that EDF has offered him the sponsorship.”

The EDF mentoring scheme started in 2012 and offers students a unique opportunity to work with the power station’s engineers during placements.

Hartlepool Sixth Form reports resounding success two years after merger with Sunderland College

Hartlepool Sixth Form is celebrating its continued success two years after merging with Sunderland College.

The two organisations, which form part of the recently created Education Partnership North East, joined forces in September 2017 and also includes Northumberland College.

Two years on and the union has resulted in significant benefits. New opportunities have been created for students and staff, and with financial stability the sixth form is reaping the benefits of substantial investment to its learning environment.

Under the direction of new leadership, the sixth form has reported an increase in A-Level pass rates, with an overall pass rate of 99.1%. This includes an outstanding 100% pass rate in 20 A-Level subjects including, Maths, English, History and Computing Science, with a total of 74% of students achieving the top A*- C grades.

The results have enabled students to progress to renowned universities, including accepting offers from prestigious Russell Group Universities including, the University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh and Durham University.

The merger has also led to investment in new facilities and resources, further enhancing the learning opportunities for students and strengthening the sixth form’s specialisms in areas of regional economic priority including digital and health specialisms.

The sixth form recently launched a state-of-the-art Health Hub and opened a Digital Academy last year to ensure the sixth form’s curriculum supports the skills deficit in the region and meets future economic needs.

Mark Hughes, Head of Hartlepool Sixth Form, added: “Following the two years since merger, I’m delighted with the significant improvements Hartlepool Sixth Form has made. Our student achievement rates in professional and technical diplomas has improved considerably and is now 11 per cent above the national average.

“I’m delighted to report that the merger has continued to create further opportunities for our students, staff and employer partners, stabilised Hartlepool Sixth Form’s financial position, and led to exciting new developments to ensure our students benefit from a wide range of resources and high-quality learning environments.

“The creation of our new Health Hub will allow for the college to support a greater range of learners enter into health professions, including the launch in January of a new suite of health and wellbeing provisions for adult learners.

“I look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues at Sunderland to deliver a first-class learning provision for the benefit of our students, staff and the region.”

The Digital Academy has provided bespoke opportunities for the sixth form’s students and delivers Level 3 education and training in digital software, cyber security, virtual reality, coding, games, animation and special effects. Hartlepool Sixth Form is also one of only 12 institutions in the UK to deliver specialist NextGen digital skills qualifications, working alongside some of the industry’s leading employers including Sony, Microsoft and Ubisoft.

Healthcare occupations are in high demand across the sector and Tees Valley is predicted to see a 12 per cent increase by 2022. To develop future healthcare professionals and meet the health and social care needs of the region, the Health Hub will deliver industry-standard training in a realistic setting, including a new health and social care simulated ward and community care facility. This has led to exciting new partnerships with Person Centred Software and ASCOM, who will support students to develop their digital skills, embedding digital technology in care, to reach their full potential.

Furthermore, to build on its outstanding reputation for sporting success, the sixth form has further enhanced its curriculum with the TASS Dual Career Accreditation and formed a partnership with Northumbria University. Backed by Sport England, TASS (Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme) has formally recognised Hartlepool Sixth Form’s commitment to support talented athletes following a dual career route to achieve their sporting and academic ambitions. Through the collaboration with Northumbria University each student will also gain access to top-of-the-range sports performance analysis and nutritional support.

Hartlepool Sixth Form is the only dedicated sixth form in Hartlepool and is a leading provider of high quality educational opportunities. The sixth form was awarded an Ofsted Good rating at the last inspection and provides full-time education for approximately 800 16-19 year olds across both vocational and academic pathways. It was also recently crowned College of the Year by Pearson, the UK’s largest awarding organisation.

Hartlepool Sixth Form invests in healthcare professionals of the future

Hartlepool Sixth Form has launched a state-of-the-art Health Hub to provide future healthcare professionals with skills to meet the sector’s increasing needs.

Healthcare jobs are in high demand across the health and care sector and the predicted shortfall in roles across the Tees Valley is expected to stretch beyond 4,000 by 2022.

The Health Hub will deliver industry-standard training in a realistic setting, including a new health and social care simulated ward and community care facility. This has led to exciting new partnerships with Person Centred Software and ASCOM, who will support students to develop their digital skills, embedding digital technology in care, to reach their full potential.

Mark Hughes, Head of Hartlepool Sixth Form, said: “The Health Hub provides our students with a specialist learning environment that replicates real-world care settings. Working alongside Person Centred Software and ASCOM will give our students an advantage of working with industry-standard technology, used in real-life care settings and will prepare them for progression to careers in the health and social care sectors, shaping our curriculum and transforming our health and social care provision for the benefit of Hartlepool and the Tees Valley.”

The Health Hub consists of a three-bed hospital ward, sluice area and treatment room and is also home to an assisted living area which mirrors the home care environment. This latest development will allow Hartlepool Sixth Form to support a greater range of learners to enter into health professions, including the launch in January of a new suite of health and wellbeing provisions for adult learners.

Andrew Coles, Head of Product Management, for Person Centred Software, said: “We are proud to work closely with Hartlepool Sixth Form to help support its students to use electronic care planning systems so that when they enter the workplace in care homes they will already understand the value of using electronic systems.

“The rise of digital systems in health and social care is leading providers to ask candidates about their experiences using electronic systems. Students will be a better fit for the criteria care providers are looking for and better prepared for the workplace. This will help reduce staff turnover in care homes, which tends to be very high, and save time and money on recruitment and training.”

Hartlepool Sixth Form currently works alongside 22 employers within the health and social care sector. In addition, 88 students are completing 415 placement hours over a two-year study programme and 100% of its level 3 health and social care students’ progress to employment or Higher Education.

Donna Scarth, Education Development Co-ordinator for North Tees Hospital, said: “Working with local providers to develop the next generation of staff for the health industry is vitally important to North Tees Hospital. A facility like the one opening today at Hartlepool Sixth Form will provide the students with invaluable experience to prepare them for placements as part of their programme of study and ensure they are ready their next steps in education, training and work”

Hartlepool Sixth Form is the only dedicated sixth form in Hartlepool and is a leading provider of high-quality educational opportunities. The sixth form was awarded an Ofsted Good rating at the last inspection and provides full-time education for approximately 800 16-19-year olds across both vocational and academic pathways. It was also recently crowned College of the Year by Pearson, the UK’s largest awarding organisation.