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Autumn Newsletter


Dear friends, Welcome to our autumn newsletter 2016! So much has happened since our last newsletter that it’s difficult for us to do more than cover just some of the highlights in this edition. A particular highlight of course was our examination results in July which were the best ever for the college for a second successive year. We were all delighted to see the rewards for so much hard work by both the students themselves and, of course our teachers and support staff. Many of our students heading off to university or other forms of higher training are the first in their families to do so and it’s always such a pleasure to see the delight shown by parents and other family members on results day. Soon after results day we welcomed our new intake of first year students. They are settling in quickly, supported by the expert help of our staff and our student ambassadors. We know that these new students and our current upper sixth will take great inspiration from the magnificent achievements of our 2016 leavers. A further highlight to mention was our achievement of STEM Assured status - a national hallmark of excellence in science, technology, engineering and maths education. We see STEM in its widest sense as central to the mission of the college and to the futures we are helping to build for our current students and students to come. As always, I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in person this academic year. Best wishes, Jill Gray, Principal

Building futures continuing success of Blackpool Sixth students The autumn is an exciting time for our 2015-16 upper sixth leavers as they start the next chapter of their lives. The excellent examination results mean that they have been exceptionally well placed to secure their first choice destinations, whether in higher education, training or employment. Around 80% have secured places at university whilst others are taking up higher level apprenticeships and other employment with training. They leave us with our warmest congratulations and our very best wishes for their future happiness and success. We are expecting to at least repeat last year’s fantastic figures for students successfully progressing to higher education, training and employment - over 99%.

Rory Pinkney Rory Pinkney is off to study medicine at Plymouth university


Results round up For a second successive year, Blackpool Sixth students and staff are celebrating our best ever set of A level and BTEC level 3 results. The overall pass rate rose to 99.4% and the number of students receiving the highest possible grades has increased significantly once again. Nearly 70% of our students gained a high grade and over 40% gained an A*/A or a Distinction*. Blackpool Sixth Principal, Jill Gray, commented, “This is a wonderful set of results and represents a huge amount of hard work by students and staff. Results like these mean that our students will be able to progress to the next stage with a brilliant platform for future success. We are hugely proud of their achievements.”

Building Futures: some of our top A level achievers Amy Hughes formerly of Montgomery High School achieved A*s in English language and English literature and an A in modern history. She is going to the University of Cambridge to study education with English. After university Amy plans to be an A level teacher. “To get into Cambridge, I needed just one A* but I managed to get three. My teachers have been amazing. Blackpool Sixth has prepared me for university life and it’s been great to be taught by teachers who truly love their subjects” Grace Cook, a former Kirkham Grammar School pupil, accepted her offer from New College, Oxford to study French. Grace received A grades across the board in modern history, French and English literature A Levels.

“The atmosphere of inclusion and friendliness has made Blackpool Sixth feel like a natural bridge between high school and university. You are treated as an adult and supported every step of the way. A fantastic couple of years of my life that I will remember fondly!”

Former St. Aidan’s Church of England High School pupil Ben Boyd is off to Durham University in September to take a MPhys degree after achieving amazing A* A* A* A results in maths, further maths, physics and computing.

“I have really enjoyed the independent learning and free time at Blackpool Sixth that has allowed me to control what work I do and how I do it.”

Building Futures: BTEC success Emily Parkinson-Swift formerly of Kirkham Grammar School has secured a prestigious Aerospace Engineering apprenticeship at BAE Systems with her Triple Distinction* grade in level 3 BTEC Engineering. “Engineering has helped me to understand time keeping and deadlines more. Even when the briefs can be difficult there is always the help there from classmates and teachers to keep you going.”

Building Futures: 2 Plus graduate success


Jamie-Lee Bennison was part of the cohort who started on the “new” 2 Plus programme in 2013 and has just completed her upper sixth year. The one-year 2 Plus programme enables learners to boost their qualifications before embarking on an A level or BTEC course. Jamie-Lee formerly of Highfield Leadership Academy gained a Triple Distinction* in BTEC Travel and Tourism and has accepted an offer from British Airways London City Airport as cabin crew.

College gains STEM Assured award Towards the end of the summer term the college received the news that it had been awarded nationallevel recognition for its science, technology, engineering and maths provision. The award followed an assessment visit by the STEM Foundation. The assessor's report highlights our students' high levels of successful progression to higher study and careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. It also praises our partnership working with schools, universities and employers. Principal Jill Gray commented, “We feel that this award represents a major success for the Fylde Coast community, which we serve, and shows our continuing contribution to the educational and career prospects of young people in the region." The college will be holding a special event on Tuesday 15th November to mark the STEM Assured award. The guest of honour will be Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London. Lord Winston is also well known for his TV science programmes including ‘The Secret Life of Twins’ and ‘Child of our Time’.

Student Awards 2016 On 22nd June Blackpool Sixth celebrated the achievements of around 90 of its students at a glittering awards event. There were awards for outstanding success in all of the courses as well as special awards for contributions to the college and wider community. The theatre was packed with the award winners and their proud parents, carers and family members. The Mayor of Fylde was in attendance along with many award sponsors. The coveted ‘Student of the Year’ award went to Murat Cobandag, a former Lytham St. Annes High School student. Murat was praised in the citation for combining excellence in his academic studies with brilliant work for the college in his role as one of the Student Directors.

offers translation, interpreting and language consultancy to organisations and firms around the world. In her inspiring speech at the end of the awards evening, Nicola advised students to follow their passion when choosing what to study and which career to pursue, reminding them that “Every great dream starts with a dreamer.” Student director, Mia Wakefield and Will Burrell from the Student Council gave an excellent opening address, reviewing the college’s year from a student perspective. Brilliant musical entertainment at the event was provided by college band, Green Strings.

Murat is also a successful graduate of the college’s Career Ready Academy. He secured an internship at Lloyds Banking group in Manchester last summer and was so successful that he now has the offer of a job with Lloyds once he has completed his degree. He is now starting a degree in economics at Sheffield University. The guest of honour at the evening was Nicola Heaney. Nicola was a student at The Blackpool Sixth Form College from 1984 to 1986. She then went on to the University of Hull to read modern languages (Italian and German). After university, Nicola lived in Italy for over 20 years, enjoying a career which has brought her into contact with leading politicians, famous TV and sports personalities, several authors and even convicted criminals. Nicola returned to Blackpool from Rome three years ago and runs NH Language Services Limited, a business developed over the last 17 years that

Murat Cobandag (centre) 2016 Student of the Year with the Mayor of Fylde, Councillor Christine Akeroyd (second from right); guest of honour, Nicola Heaney (second from left): Helen Akeroyd (left), the mayor’s granddaughter; and Blackpool Sixth Principal, Jill Gray (right).


The Excellence Programme This September Blackpool Sixth has launched a new and innovative programme to support our most academically able students in their studies and prepare them for entry to the country’s top universities. The new initiative is called the Excellence Programme and it contains the following key strands: 6Advance – A fantastic range of ‘academies’ that offers students the chance to develop extra skills outside of their core study programme. Academies such as the Medical Society and the Debating Society enable ambitious students to prepare for highly competitive careers. EPQ – The Extended Project Qualification enables students to undertake their own independent research project and gain a qualification that is highly valued by universities. Prestigious Universities – All Excellence Programme students will receive individual support in the application process to the most selective universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and the elite Russell Group institutions. Blackpool Sixth has a proven record of students gaining highly competitive places. Preparation will involve: • •

Visits to events and conferences including at the country’s leading universities Guest talks / lectures from academic speakers

• •

Workshops on personal statements, interviews and entry exams University access programmes, including the Cambridge HE+ scheme

Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths Excellence • •

Specific support for medical, dentistry and veterinary school applications including help with BMAT / UKCAT and other entrance tests Resident Royal Society of Chemistry education coordinator

• • •

Brilliant extension programme in physics through the Ogden Trust - regular success in Physicist of the Year competitions Thriving and highly successful Further Maths course Support for MAT and STEP papers for Oxbridge/Russell group applications in Maths-based subjects.

Please contact the Head of Gifted and Talented, Michael Waterhouse on for more information.

The 2Plus Programme - three years on Since its launch three years ago, our re-modelled Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) provision, the 2Plus Programme, has proved a great success. It offers a highly flexible step for those who are looking to boost their qualifications before taking Level 3 study programmes or entering the world of employment. At the heart of the programme are the skills and qualifications which today’s employers want: English, maths, science, digital and creative skills, organisational and employability skills. For the past three years the programme has had 100% pass rates in many of the subjects on offer and GCSE English and GCSE Maths results which are well above national averages for post16 students.  For September 2016 starters we have added two new course options as part of the programme: GCSE Science and a BTEC Level 2 qualification in creative digital media.


Personal Development Week All lower sixth students took part in our first Personal Development Week at the end of the summer term (Monday 20th to Friday 24th June). The normal timetable was suspended to give students the opportunity to take part in an exciting programme of activities designed to build knowledge, skills and confidence. The programme covered a wide variety of areas linked to both the curriculum and career planning. Activities took place both in college and outside college, and included visits, skills workshops and talks by guest speakers. Students selected activities based on their interests and career aims. Their experiences will help to strengthen applications to higher education or employment as well as giving a deeper understanding of their academic studies. Many students also took the opportunity to gain relevant work experience or voluntary work in the local community.

One student, Chloe Richardson commented, “I completed valuable work experience in a solicitors. This helped me massively in deciding which area of law I want to specialise in. It helped me to improve my personal statement in readiness for a UCAS application”.

‘Monster Day’ delights primary pupils

Police and Crime Commissioner Visit

Blackpool Sixth was full of ‘little monsters’ in June when the performing arts, music and media department invited children from two local primary schools to enjoy a day of activities led by students as part of Personal Development Week.

A brand new service aimed at helping young victims of crime living in Lancashire was launched by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire Clive Grunshaw on 29th June. The service – Nest Lancashire – provides confidential support and advice for young people who have experienced crime either as a victim or as a witness.

Children from Anchorsholme Academy and Carleton Green Primary schools enjoyed a range of lessons from monster costume making in visual arts, to jabberwocky soundscape in music, poster making in media and doing the Monster Mash with performing arts students in the dance studio. This gave our students an excellent leap into the world of teaching and made vital links with our potential students in years to come. The day of activities was deemed a great success by the young visitors, with comments such as ‘everything was very, very fun’ and it was ‘outstanding, scary and made me happy’.

BTEC Public Services students assisting with Armed Forces Week

Clive Grunshaw said: “I have launched Nest Lancashire to ensure that Lancashire’s young people can access the support they deserve following a crime. Being a victim of crime can be a very difficult thing to get over and Nest offers extra comfort and support, particularly to those who may not have family support or struggle to share their ordeal with loved ones. Nest Lancashire will ensure that our young people can access support when they need it in a way that suits them best. It’s been fantastic to visit Blackpool Sixth Form College to tell the students about the service and to be able to answer their questions.” Public Services student, Jerdine Farrell, 17, said, “I think it’s important that every young person who is a victim of crime gets individual help that is personalised to their needs.” She welcomed the Nest Lancashire service, saying that it would help provide a ‘safety net’ for young people.

Mr Clive Grunshaw (centre) with BTEC Public Services students


Students pitch in to help with DIY SOS project Over the summer the BBC DIY SOS team was in Blackpool working on a special project with the Blackpool Carers’ Centre to create a new home for the charity’s work with young carers. The project involves renovating a large disused building on Newton Drive called Blenheim House. Blackpool Sixth BTEC level 3 Public Services students pitched in to help with the rebuilding and the garden area and got to rub shoulders with Nick Knowles and the rest of the DIY SOS crew. The college’s large art studio, The Frame, was called into action as the venue for some filming with a group of young carers and the celebrated TV designer, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. The programme will go out on BBC TV as a part of the channel’s Children in Need coverage in November, so watch out for our students, staff and college!

Students call for peace Blackpool Sixth students recently delivered a call for peace in eight different languages. This happened as part of an event to mark the re-dedication of the college’s ‘peace pole’, a prominent part of the college’s main courtyard. The event took place on the day after the terrorist attacks in Brussels had killed 31 people and injured hundreds. Victims of these atrocities were remembered by those in attendance. The event was held in partnership with Rotary International in Cumbria and Lancashire with leading Rotarians attending from across the Fylde Coast, north Lancashire and the Lake District. At the event the pledge for peace, “May peace prevail on Earth” was read by students in eight different languages: Arabic, English, French, German, Hungarian, Russian, Spanish and Shona (a main language of Zimbabwe). The event included the reading of the winning entries in a ‘Poems for Peace’ competition. The secondary winner was 13 year old Charmaine Melsom from Fleetwood High School and the sixth form prize was won by Blackpool Sixth student, Bethany Barker. Artwork was also on display from a primary “Art for Peace” competition. The upper primary school winning entry was by Milan Heywood from Clifton Primary School in St. Annes and the lower primary award was won by Daisy Rosenheck, aged 5 from St. Andrew’s Church of England Primary School in Ashton, Preston.

Students (left to right) Matthew Johnston, Artemi Robertson, Juri Lindegger, Dave Ramadan, Joy White, Petronella Garaba, Georgina Rowe.


Team Nepal 2016 Our 2016 Nepal Team worked extremely hard through the 2015-16 academic year to raise money for a project supporting a Nepalese school. On Thursday 7th July those students set off on their travels. After an exciting couple of days exploring the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, the group headed to the Shubakabana Academy in Kiritipur. There they taught English to a range of classes from 8 year olds to 13 year olds. Lessons included topics such as space, construction, first aid and story-telling. The children, staff, parents and local community were extremely appreciative and introduced our students to different aspects of Nepalese culture. Outside the classroom, the group enjoyed visits to a number of Buddhist and Hindu holy sites. They ended the visit with a memorable visit to the Chitwan national park where they saw a variety of the area’s natural wildlife such as crocodiles, spotted deers, kingfishers and rhinos.

Alumni news

Former Blackpool Sixth student and employee Aidan Cooke has just graduated from Huddersfield University with a first class honours degree in graphic design. Aidan worked in the marketing department at Blackpool Sixth for a year as part of his degree placement. After all the fantastic work he did with the college we are not surprised at all that his degree was first class.

BTEC level 3 Travel and Tourism student Lauren Murray who left Blackpool Sixth this year has just completed her intensive cabin crew training course with British Airways. During her time at college Lauren studied BTEC Travel and Tourism in which she gained a Double Distinction* and she also achieved a B in A level Geography.

Staff news:

Bee Taylor

Lauren Murray

Aidan Cooke

We are always delighted to hear about former students and what they have been doing since leaving Blackpool Sixth. Here are some examples of some recent news from our alumni network. Please contact marketing@blackpoolsixth if you are a former student and would like to update us on developments in your career.

Bee Taylor, a former student of Blackpool Sixth has created her own company ‘Timeless Tales’. After studying at Blackpool Sixth, Bee went on to study Performing Arts at The University of Cumbria. She graduated from university in 2015 with a first class honours. She recently expanded her business and recruited from within Blackpool Sixth, allowing current students the opportunity to work and gain experience within the industry.

In August we welcomed some new staff members to our college: • • •

Danny Topping - Teacher of business studies & economics Mansoor Rifai - Teacher of computing Andrew Rosbottom - Teacher of business studies

• •

Jason Leslie - Teacher of physics & engineering Iwona Bogucka - Cleaner

Remembering Linda In August, the college lost an irreplaceable member of staff, Linda Barclay, who sadly passed away. Linda was an invaluable member of the Estates Team and such a warm, friendly and dedicated member of the college community. She was an inspirational ambassador for the college with her work ethic, dedication and loyalty. Linda also helped support our neighbours, Highfurlong School, by co-ordinating work placements for their students, helping with fundraising events and even selling enterprise items to college staff and students. This she did in addition to her ever-demanding workload and always without a moment’s hesitation. In addition to all this, Linda was a college first aider and fire marshal. She washed all the college sports kits and organised the staffroom. “Linda you’re gone from our sight but not our hearts and we will never forget you. Our thoughts continue to be with your friends and family.”


Dates for your diary





- Open Day


- Parents’ Evening (A-K)


- Open Evening


- Parents’ Evening (L-Z)


- Students finish for half-term


- Open Evening


- College reopens


- Students finish for half-term


- College reopens

November: 16th

- Open Evening



- Christmas Showcase


- Battle of the Bands


- Preparing for University Evening for upper sixth


- Musical production


- Musical production


- Musical production


- Higher Education Information Evening for lower sixth

December: 3rd

- Christmas Craft Fair


- Students finish for Christmas


- Christmas Carol Service

January: 3rd

- College reopens


- Mock Exam Week


Christmas Showcase, 29th November, 7pm

- Students finish for Easter


- College reopens

Festival of Carols and Readings at St Chad's Church, Poulton, 15th December, 7.30pm

The Christmas Showcase is one of the highlights of the Autumn term. This toe-tapping show is a fusion of dance, drama, music and singing forming the perfect opportunity for students to celebrate their achievements across the Performing Arts, Music and Media department.



Our gifted performers will cast a Christmas spell with traditional and contemporary pieces to start the season with a magical mix of music and readings. We are proud of the Blackpool Sixth Choir and musicians who continually perform to an impressive standard and always rise to the challenge of learning demanding new material. This year, as always, we offer a hand picked selection of poems and readings to make us think about the true message of Christmas. This is a non-ticketed event so please arrive early as seating is limited.

01253 394911



Autumn newsletter 2016