Overcoming challenges to achieve A-level success

Peter Hayton and his mother, Brenda. Picture by Steve Brock.
Peter Hayton and his mother, Brenda. Picture by Steve Brock.

Two Cramlington Learning Village students have overcome extreme personal challenges to get excellent A-level results.

Dan Mattison was still being treated for leukaemia in January, but managed to gain A grades in biology, chemistry and maths.

Dan Mattison. Picture by Steve Brock.

Dan Mattison. Picture by Steve Brock.

“Whilst I was still receiving treatment I was tired a lot and going to hospital quite a lot,” said Dan, who will be studying medicine at Newcastle University and hopes to become a doctor.

“I found my exams hard, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. But I seem to have managed OK in the end.”

“Ever since I started going to hospital I realised that’s what I wanted to do – after all, I’ve had more experience than most people.

Dan was diagnosed with leukaemia two weeks into the start of his GCSE course. As a result he missed virtually all of that school year, but still achieved seven A*s and one A.

Hannah Ricalton. Picture by Steve Brock.

Hannah Ricalton. Picture by Steve Brock.

Peter Hayton, who was born with a visual impairment, will also be going to Newcastle University.

He will be studying computer science after getting an A* in business, an A in computer science and B in geography. He was particularly proud of his result in geography.

“Subjects like Geography are quite difficult because of their visual elements,” he said.

“The staff here have gone above and beyond to make sure that it’s all been accessible. The extra support I’ve had has helped me achieve these grades.”

His mother Brenda said: “I’m so proud of him. Given his visual impairment, just to achieve those grades is phenomenal.

“The teachers have been absolutely brilliant in modifying work for him and making sure all the arrangements were in place for him to take the exams.”

Hannah Ricalton, who achieved A* grades in biology, chemistry and maths, is following in her father’s footsteps by studying chemistry at Manchester University.

Despite her success, Hannah did not expect to do so well, saying: “I had one exam in maths where I came home crying.”

Fellow student Charlotte Small was also awarded three A*s.

Gemma Clark, who got an A* in chemistry and maths and an A in biology, and Ben Riddell, A* in chemistry and A grades in biology and maths, are both going to study biomedical science at Newcastle University.

“I’d like to go into researching diseases, possibly looking at cures or just how diseases function,” said Gemma.

“This morning was the most nervous I’ve been for doing anything – I thought I’d messed up a few of the papers,” said Ben, who was full of praise for the school’s science teachers.

“They’ve been amazing and I think that’s made all the difference. I’ve had a really good group of teachers and I can’t thank them enough.”

Despite changes in the exam system, 50 per cent of the grades achieved by students of Cramlington Learning Village were either A*, A or B and 14 students were awarded A* or A in all their subjects.

Headteacher Wendy Heslop said: “I am so proud of these young people, who have balanced the demands of the new A-levels, their responsibilities at school and – in some cases – significant obstacles.

“These students have been excellent role models for the rest of the school and, as they take their next steps at universities up and down the country, we wish them well.”