From education to employment

Derby College Celebrates Students’ Success


More than 450 A Level students at Derby College Group (@derbycollege) are receiving their results by email this morning (Tuesday August 10).

Whilst students are asked to celebrate their results at home with their family and friends, staff are on hand in person at the Joseph Wright Centre to support any students who need help with issues such as clearing and appeals.

Matt Ridgill, Assistant Principal – Academic Education at DCG, said that the vast majority of confirmed grades were in line with the Teacher Assessment Grades submitted to exam boards – enabling students to progress onto their preferred routes whether that be higher education, an apprenticeship or a job.

Mr Ridgill continued: “I want to offer my congratulations to all our students who have achieved excellent results in the most challenging of times and to thank my colleagues for all their hard work in supporting them over the past two years.

“I am sure that the students’ celebrations today and in the coming days will also be a huge relief for family and friends who have given them support more than ever during these difficult times.

“We have worked hard to ensure that the Teacher Assessment Grades have been supported by evidence gathered through mock examinations, in-class tests and coursework and are therefore robust and realistic.

“This has meant that the vast majority of our students are celebrating the results they deserve and are now able to progress onto the next stage of their lives.

“There will of course be some students who are disappointed with their grades. However many universities and our own HE team here at DCG have been very empathetic to the situation they have faced and I am sure we will see a degree of flexibility if target grades have been narrowly missed.”

He concluded: “I have been greatly impressed and proud of how students and staff have admirably risen to the challenges posed during the pandemic and have positively embraced the opportunities that virtual and then blended learning have presented.

“It has been an exhausting year for everyone and we now have a couple of days to take stock before enrolment starts on Thursday for the young people who receive their GCSE results.”

Hundreds of students on vocational programmes will also receive their results today and DCG Vice Principal Kate Martin concluded: “We have had some significant successes across a wide range of technical and professional subjects and continue to support the small minority of students who require help to progress to their chosen destination.”

Harmanpreet SanotraAmongst the students celebrating their achievements today are:

Harmanpreet Sanotra who achieved A Grades in Biology, Chemistry and Maths and is now planning to move to London where she will study Biochemistry at Kings College London.

Harmanpreet (18) from Derby is a former pupil at City of Derby Academy and was encouraged to go to Derby College’s Joseph Wright Centre for sixth form by family members.

She said: “I am delighted with these results and so looking forward to moving to London where I plan to study Biochemistry for three years and then hopefully go onto study medicine.

“I knew it was going to be a tough couple of years when I enrolled because of the subjects I had chosen but never thought that we would be doing a large part of the curriculum online.

“My teachers have been fantastic and I was determined to stay focus and in the College routine.  Being organised and remaining motivated has paid off and I’m excited about the future.”

Erin Augustus

Erin Augustus (19) has been so inspired by the scientific research that has come to the fore during the pandemic that she now has her sights set on a career in biomedical scie


With A* grades in Sociology and Psychology and A in Biology under her belt, Erin, a former pupil at John Port School, now plans to go through the clearing system to find right degree programme to match her career goals and is looking forward to the future.

Erin, who lives in Hilton, said: “I am over the moon with these results and they have opened up so many more university options for me.

“The past 18 months have been a challenge but I have tried to stay motivated and structured.  It’s been amazing how the teachers have ensured that lessons were still interactive and that we were all engaged even when we were online and I am so thankful for the support that we have been given.”

Joanne Grzelka

Joanne Grzelka (19) has breathed a sigh of relief that, with three good A Level results now in the bag, she can focus her energies on recovering from corrective back surgery which is scheduled for early September.

Joanne, who lives in Sinfin, was diagnosed with scoliosis – curvature of the spine – when she was studying for GCSEs at Merrill Academy. 

She powered through those examinations and A-level studies and now awaits upcoming surgery.

Joanne initially enrolled at Derby College’s Joseph Wright Centre on the GCSE+ programme to retake Maths and Science and she then went onto to study Art and Design, Criminology and Psychology at A level. 

Having achieved A*, A and C grades in the subjects respectively, Joanne is planning to use the coming months of recuperation from the surgery to research her future options – whether that is looking for a job, a higher apprenticeship or to go to university.

She said: “Although I have been in some pain and discomfort over the past few years, I have tried not to think about it and to focus on my work.

“I am very pleased with these results and will use the time that I need to stop and recuperate from the operation to really think about where I want to go from here.  It’s going to be difficult as I love all the subjects that I have taken at college.”

Courtney Blincow

Courtney Blincow (18) is heading to Manchester University to study Law having achieved A grades in Law, Psychology and English Language.

Courtney, from Alvaston, came to Derby College from Noel Baker Academy where she was one of the top performing GCSE students.

She thrived in the College environment so much so that she was selected for the Oxford University Scholar Scheme by her teachers and got through to the interview stage with positive feedback.

Courtney said: “I am over the moon with these results as it means that I can take up my place at Manchester which was my first choice.

“It was disappointing at the time not to be offered a place at Oxford University but, with hindsight, I think this environment will suit me much better and enable me to grow as a person and student.”

Courtney admitted that she had been nervous about whether her results would suffer from not being able to take external examinations but enjoyed the fact that the revised arrangements had enabled her to focus on certain parts of the curriculum in more detail.

“I am a workaholic with a good work ethic but I did struggle a bit in the last lockdown.  It’s all worth it now and I am so grateful for all the help and support that I got from my teachers at college who were amazing.”

Eve Doherty

Seventeen-year-old Eve Doherty is celebrating top grades in English Language (A*), Psychology (A) and History (A) which has secured a place at the University of Huddersfield to study Linguistics.

As well as achieving good A level grades, she also scored A* on an EPQ project to re-design and re-focus the college’s newsletter.

Eve, from Mickleover came to Derby College’s Joseph Wright Centre from Murray Park Community School.

She said: “I am thrilled with these results and very grateful for the hard work that our teachers have put into supporting us through these challenging times.

“As soon as lockdown was announced, we went online effortlessly and the communications and support from everyone have been brilliant.

“By working through the curriculum and taking continual assessments, I actually think that we have learnt more rather than having to cram revision into the end of the year to then sit exams.”

Kaamilah Lanigan

Nineteen-year-old Kaamilah Lanigan has ‘Covid-proofed’ her future career plans and had already signed up for an Access to Higher Education study programme ahead of A Level results day – unsure of how the pandemic had affected her chances of high enough grades to get to university.

Kaamilah, from Littleover, was home schooled and then joined Derby College on the GCSE+ programme when she was 15 before progressing onto A Levels.

Although she is happy with her B, C and D grades respectively in Psychology, English Language/ English Literature and Biology, Kaamilah admits that the pressure of studying and applying for a highly competitive university place to study Midwifery had taken its toll over the past year.

She is therefore doing a one-year Access course at the University of Derby this September and will immediately start applying for degree courses to start the following year.

Kaamilah explained: “I have wanted to be a midwife since I was about 13 when the first of my younger siblings were born.  Being home schooled, I was able to accompany my mum to all her hospital appointments and developed so much respect for the compassion and professionalism of the midwives we met.

“I have found the pandemic incredibly tough and isolating and I really did not want to run the risk of not getting the results I needed to get into university. Most of the universities also want you to have some work experience in midwifery and that, of course, has been out of the question due to Covid.

“By doing the Access course, I can take stock, knuckle down and move on.  It is not the end of the world and I will come out of this stronger and more focused to reach my goal.”

Charlotte Salt

Charlotte Salt (18) from Brinsley is heading to the University of Lincoln this Autumn to study Law having achieved A* grades in Law and Spanish with an A in History and an A grade for her EPQ project.

Charlotte, who is a former pupil at Selston High School, opted to study sixth form at Derby College’s Joseph Wright Centre predominantly because she could continue her Spanish studies.

Since completing her studies and working part time at East Midlands Designer Outlet, Charlotte has been using her spare time to do an online course in human rights law and philosophy run by the world-famous Harvard Law School in the USA and teaching herself Portuguese and Greek.

She said: “I have been panicking all night but I am so pleased with these results and am now very excited about going to University where I hope we will all get the full experience.”

Lily Dangerfield

Lily Dangerfield (18) has double cause for celebration having achieved Two A and one B grades in her A levels and a university scholarship to pursue her passion for film making.

Lily, who lives in Branston and attended Paget High School in Burton-on-Trent, has her sights set on a career behind the camera and was attracted to studying A levels at the Joseph Wright Centre because of the wide range of subjects on offer.

She said: “The pressure was taken off when I found out I had the scholarship which effectively gave me an unconditional degree offer but I still wanted to do well to prove something to myself.

“Everyone has been binge watching films during the pandemic but I have resisted doing that and really knuckled down to my studies.  Since finishing college I have definitely been making up for lost time – all in the name of ‘research’ for my degree course!”

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