GCSE results are up at Shirebrook Academy as students overcome the odds in order to shine.
Overall, Shirebrook Academy achieved improved results this year, with 58 per cent of students receiving Grade 4 or over in both English and Maths and 34 per cent receiving Grade 5 or above, an increase of 12 per cent and 11 per cent respectively,
A talented swimmer who missed nearly a year of schooling while she was studying for her GCSEs after she underwent surgery on her legs is celebrating after scooping eight GCSEs - including a Grade Seven – the equivalent of an A - in English Language.
Shirebrook Academy student Isla Howe, 16, was off school for seven months of her Year 10 and a further three months during her final year because of the effects of surgery to muscular problems caused by her cerebral palsy, which often leaves her needing to use a wheelchair, alongside her commitments as a competitive swimmer.
Isla’s treatment meant that she missed countless lessons and had to make her own study arrangements for weeks on end, often working while sitting up in bed while her legs recovered, while her swimming career meant that the 16-year-old – who is a member of Mansfield Swimming Club and Nova Centurion Swimming Club – needed extra time off, even though she already gets up at 4.15am every day for training before heading into school for a full day’s study.
Today Isla, who has dreams of representing Great Britain at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020, found out how much her hard work paid off when she received her GCSE results, which included a Nine in English Language. She will now study A Levels in English Literature, Law and History at West Notts College and wants to become a lawyer or a teacher.
She said: “Having cerebral palsy meant that the muscles in my leg were really tight and they were causing me a lot of pain. I had to go into hospital so that surgeons could open up the muscles and make them bigger, which would give me quality of life. It’s worked but it meant that I was bed bound for two months.
“I’ve had to work so hard and everything I’ve done is so worth it now that I have seen my results. So much of the studying that I’ve done has had to be done independently after my teachers gave me the work to do.
’ve done much better than I thought and I’m totally blown away.”
Isla’s mum, Elise, said: “Isla has done so well, her results are amazing. Her results are down to sheer determination, she never gives up and we are so proud of her for doing so well after what she has been through.
“We have supported her but she looked after everything she needed to do with regards to her schooling herself. She is very motivated and we have never had to get her to do her homework.”
Isla isn’t the only student at Shirebrook Academy who had to overcome illness on her way to GCSE success. Fellow Year 11 student Abigail Hammond, 15, was forced to revise in her hospital bed just weeks before her exam after she was diagnosed with intercranial hypertension – or a build-up of fluid on the brain. She spent four days in hospital, which included undergoing an MRI scan and a lumbar puncture, before.
Today she opened her envelope to find out that she had nine GCSEs, including a Nine in History and an Eight in English Language, and now wants to go to West Notts College to study English Language, History, Geography and Psychology at A Level.
She said: “I’d been having a lot of headaches and just thought that it was due to stress, but when I went for a sight test during the Easter holiday, the optician said they saw a swelling behind my eye. They referred me to hospital and they started talking about all sorts of scary things like possible brain tumours and so on.
“I knew that I would have to be treated but my main priority was making sure I carried on with my studies. I knew I would be missing a load of holiday study sessions, so when I was in hospital I asked my mum to bring my books in and I just stayed busy doing that. It helped to keep my mind off what was going on, although when I came back to school I was still having headaches and I was worried about them affecting my exams.
“I’m really happy with my results. The hospital still don’t know what caused it and I’m still being monitored but I’m very pleased that by burying myself in my studies I’ve got what I wanted in my results.”
Another top-performing Shirebrook student, Olivia Corbett, 16, has set her sights for the stars literally, plotting a course through Sixth Form and university she hopes will lead her to work for space agency Nasa. Helping her on her way is a stellar line-up of 10 GCSEs results including a Grade Nine in English Language and eight Grade Eights, which has given her all she needs to study physics, chemistry and maths at Netherthorpe Sixth Form.
She said: “I am so overwhelmed in the most positive way possible. I have been really nervous and I was convinced that I wasn’t going to do so well, especially in physics.
“I’m really proud of myself. I had made so many sacrifices along the way to do the work that I have put in, but I have always told myself to make sacrifices now and you will reap the rewards later in life. It’s been very difficult to do that at times but I’m determined to work for the world’s best companies in the tech industry.
“I want to show other young people in Shirebrook that you can achieve anything you want with hard work and dedication, no matter where you come from. I am very happy today and I’m going to celebrate with my friends tonight, although not until too late because I’ve got work tomorrow.”
And student Connor Emery, the school’s current head boy, also has dreams of his own to follow. A professional footballer with Chesterfield FC and a member of the Spireites Under-18 team, he now has the GCSEs he says will help to give him a Plan B should his ambition of playing at the highest level not come to pass.
Waiting for him in his envelope today were nine GCSEs, including a Grade Nine in English Literature.
He said: “I have set my heart on making it as a professional footballer and I will now concentrate all my efforts on it, but I have always known that working hard at school is important because there is a chance that I won’t make it, or that I could pick up an injury early in my career.
“I’ve worked really hard to get these results because I’ve had to do all my studying and school work alongside training in the evenings five days a week and playing at the weekend, so I’m really proud of myself.
“The last Shirebrook Academy student to make it as a footballer is Mason Bennett at Derby County and I’ve heard how much he worked at his studies too. I live in the same village as Mason so he’s definitely an example for me to follow. There’s a lot of hard work for me to come and I will be putting in extra study as well as being a professional footballer so that I have something to fall back on.”