Students on a new and unique North-East education programme are celebrating success in its first ever results.
All 12 learners who started Career College North East (CCNE) as 14-year-olds at its launch in 2015, have passed its innovative joint vocational and academic course.
Each will either progress into an apprenticeship, an engineering maritime pre-cadetship, or continue in Further Education.
Their success has led to continued strong interest in CCNE, which operates as a partnership between South Tyneside College, the TES FE College of the Year, and Ofsted ‘outstanding’ St Wilfrid’s RC College in South Shields.
Already double the number of students will join its programmes when they resume in September.
In the past two years, students have taken a BTEC Level 2 vocational qualification in engineering, which includes advanced manufacturing, or computer science alongside nine GCSE subjects.
Results show all attained either a merit, distinction or distinction* in their BTEC vocational qualification.
At GCSE, an outstanding 83.3 percent overall standard pass rate was achieved at English and maths, and 100 percent in English alone.
Andrew Orton, 16, from Heworth, Gateshead, who studied engineering and whose results included an English literature 6 and maths and English language 5, said: “I’m very pleased with how well I’ve done.
“Studying at the career college has been a motivating factor in my studies and has helped me gain the qualifications I need to continue my education at a higher level.
“I gained the skills, qualifications and experience that will help me with my future career.”
Luke Ward, 16, from West Boldon, who passed his computer science course, said: “Learning has actually been fun, I’ve really enjoyed it.
“I’m going to go into Further Education and feel the career college has prepared me very well my next step, which is to take a level 3 programme.
“I wouldn’t have been able to take such a broad curriculum at school or benefited from such good teaching and facilities.”
Alison Maynard, Principal of South Tyneside College, said: “These results are excellent, and only a few schools or colleges will do this well.
“It is quite exceptional that students, who were only 14 when they joined the career college, have attained these high-level results in what is a challenging programme of learning.
“The career college is for leaders of the future, and these young learners have demonstrated they have the desire and commitment to succeed.
“Parents have also been very supportive of the career college, which was just being launched and was untested when their children joined it.”
She added: “These are a very positive and satisfying first set of results for Career College North East and reflect the commitment of students and the high standard of teaching.
“The career college is a long-term initiative, that has the potential to bring significant benefits to the region by improving skills in some very important sectors.
“By teaching people of just 14 skills in key sectors, we are opening opportunity and supporting this region’s future economic prosperity.
“All involved in the career college are looking forward to adding to this initial success, in the years ahead.”
Ray Parkinson, Head of CCNE, added: “These are hard-working and diligent young people, who have benefitted from first class teaching and facilities.
“The career college is ideally suited to students who have a good sense at a young age of the career they want and who possess a determination to achieve their goals.
“It provides them with a unique opportunity, not just in the North-East but nationally, to learn and develop.
“These students have shown a maturity beyond their years, and I’m delighted have passed this first programme.”
The destination for the CCNE students includes engineering apprenticeships with world-leading companies like Siemens and Clyde Marine.
Others are progressing to study maritime engineering at world-leading South Shields Marine School.
Career College North East (CCNE) was launched in September 2015 by Lord Kenneth Baker, a former Conservative education secretary and founder of the national network of career colleges.
It is unique among career colleges in teaching advanced manufacturing, engineering and IT, and, as of September 2017, maritime studies through CCNE’s link to South Shields Marine School.
Four days a week, students study a core academic programme at St Wilfrid’s RC College, in Temple Park Road, Shields.
On the fifth day, they study for a vocational qualification at South Tyneside College, which is now part of the new Tyne Coast College, with support from employers.
CCNE delivers clear progression routes into higher and further education, apprenticeships and work.
It is based on the government’s new national education policy that allows Further Education colleges to recruit students at the age of 14 with the aim of increasing choice, opportunity and prospects.
In May, CCNE announced it would be expanding provision to include a new two-year specialist maritime training programme for students seeking careers in the Merchant Navy.
Delivered in partnership with South Shields Marine School, learners who complete the course will be guaranteed a place on the marine school’s pre-cadetship programme, with defined and dedicated nautical and engineering career advancement.