The 2016 Review!

2016 has been another celebratory year for the College, officially open for 36 years. Highlights include: outstanding student successes (potential, current and former) across all subject areas, excellent above average exam results, insightful VIP talks@altoncollege, being ranked number 1 choice for STEM in East Hampshire, and a unique visit from staff and students from the University of Cambridge.

Here’s a roundup of some of our achievements:

Early 2016 saw the College receiving £30,000 from the Alton College Foundation thanks to the benevolence of the Grace Atkinson Will Trust. The money was put towards a new minibus to enable students to attend trips and sporting fixtures and was delivered in the summer.

Continuing last year’s successful talks@altoncollege TED-talks style initiative, the first external speaker to visit campus in January was Alton College alumna, Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford. She was treated to a whistle-stop tour of the campus to reminisce and she said: ‘I am extremely impressed by the new facilities on offer to students now - the new Sonardyne Centre for Engineering and the Austen Building. I also knew Martin Read when I was here, so it is lovely to see the hall as a memorial to him. The number of students here has also risen which is testament to how successful the College has become in a relatively short period of time.' She spoke to students explaining her path from Alton College, through studying a Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree at Oxford University into a life in politics. She urged students to get involved and take interest in politics stressing the importance of how it affects them and their future.

Damian Hinds, MP for East Hants visited College twice this year to talk to students about pressing political matters. The Students’ Union hosted a Q&A session about the budget as part of talks@altoncollege. Leading the debate were first female President Fawziyyah Hamid, previously at Mill Chase School, Vice-President Chris Jordan and Marketing Officer Rory Page, both previously at Robert May’s School and the Treloars representative, Samuel Cornelius-Light. The talk called ‘The Budget, The Economy and Economics’  attracted an audience of Economics, Government and Politics, Law and Business Studies students eager to hear their local MP’s thoughts on the recent budget and to question him about government policies, tax and the economy. He also came onto campus to talk to students about the EU Referendum. He was greeted by a room full of enthusiastic students and teachers, eager to hear what their local MP had to say about the vote. He made some pertinent opening remarks, setting out his place in the Remain campaign and expressed his pleasure at such a large audience stating ‘you have more invested in this vote, and have more to lose in not showing interest in the proceedings than your parents or grandparents, so I am really pleased to see so many of you showing interest in your future.’

Results

This year Alton College students once again achieved an outstanding set of results in their summer exams. Three quarters of A level students were awarded A*-C grades, a quarter achieved A*-A. Over 71% of vocational students achieved the highest grades across Extended Diploma Courses. 100% of those taking EPQ achieved A*-C. 

An impressive 100% of students passed ‘Double Maths’ A level (Maths and Further Maths) and nearly half of the vocational Engineering students achieved the top grades of three Distinction*. Three quarters of Performing Arts students also achieved the top grades and 73% of BTEC Extended Diploma Art and Design students achieved three Distinction*.

Results in traditional A level subjects such as English, Maths, Modern Foreign Languages, History, Geography and other STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) alongside Performing and Creative Arts, were particularly notable for success.  

Students in the lower sixth celebrated outstanding AS Level results this year with 62% achieving the highest grades of A-C. The pass rate across all courses was 90%, compared to the latest national average of 88%, while 9 subjects achieved a 100% pass rate.  Further good news has our students placed in the top 25% nationally for surpassing their predicted grades (source: alps-va.co.uk).

The Higher Education Statistic Agency have found that 21% of Alton College students go on to achieve a First Class Honours degree at University. The National Average for Sixth Form Colleges and School Sixth Forms is 16%. 

STEM

Alton College actively promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and is the number 1 choice for STEM for students in East Hampshire. Science student Kate Willett, previously at The Petersfield School, was one of 300 students across the world to attend a special leadership course at the US Space & Rocket Center. The unique leadership programme in Huntsville, Alabama attracted students from 38 countries and 33 US states and is a scholarship course which promotes STEM education and effective leadership skills.

The programme is run by Honeywell using interactive technology, science-orientated workshops and team exercises to teach leaderships skills in STEM. Workshops are run by scientists, engineers and former astronauts leading hands-on challenges and team building exercises and sharing their first-hand professional experiences.

Alton College also maintains active links to STEM in Higher Education. The Chemistry department is one of a small number of schools/colleges chosen to work with Southampton Chemical Education Research (SoCER) group at the University of Southampton on an innovative research project to improve the future teaching of organic chemistry.

Paul Cumner and Chris McLennan, both previously at Robert May’s School, took part in the judging team for the National Final of the F1 in Schools Competition held at Silverstone. The main objective of the competition is to help change the perceptions of STEM for 9 – 19 year olds by creating a fun and exciting learning environment for them to develop an informed view about careers in engineering, Formula One, science, marketing and technology. F1 in Schools is a global programme in which teams of students use CAD/CAM software to collaborate, design, analyse, manufacture, test and then race miniature compressed air powered balsa wood F1 cars. Both Chris and Paul are hoping to volunteer again next year to judge at the competition before going to the University of Southampton to study Aeronautical Engineering.

University of Cambridge at Alton College

The University of Cambridge visited campus for a series of one-to-one practice interviews and lectures as part of the College's More Able and Talented Programme for gifted and talented students which specifically focuses on supporting students to 'Apply for Oxbridge and Russell Group Universities'. 

Lecturers and students from Trinity College, Cambridge provided the sessions to fewer than 10 Colleges in Hampshire.  Admissions staff and students were on hand to impart vital advice and tips for what is a stressful process regardless of university choice. Shortlisted applicants at both Oxford and Cambridge are guaranteed to have at least one interview, so naturally students were eager to hone and practise interview skills in a formal setting.  

 

Maths

The Senior Maths Team once again had an impressive year finishing an exceptional 13th out of 86 teams in the National Finals of the UK Senior Maths Challenge. The two second year members of the team, Ali Bayliss and Chris Hughes, were offered places to study at Cambridge and Oxford Universities respectively, Ali to study Economics at Churchill College and Chris to study Maths at St John's College where they took up their places in September after exceptional results in their summer A level exams.

This year, pupils from Mill Chase Academy and Bordon Junior School finished top in the fourth annual Alton College Team Maths Challenge. They were competing against pupils from local secondary and primary schools in an afternoon of complex individual and team rounds set by College Maths staff covering a broad range of mathematical skills. 

Three Alton College students participated in the annual Maths Olympiad for Girls. Jasmine Anwar, previously at Weydon School, Lisa Winkler, previously at Bohunt School and Charlotte Cranmer, previously at Mill Chase Academy undertook the Olympiad which is organised to encourage and inspire as many girls as possible to get involved in advanced problem solving. Jasmine and Lisa received a Certificate of Participation, Lisa narrowly missing out on a Certificate of Distinction by just one mark. Charlotte was not only awarded a Certificate of Distinction but also gained an Honourable Mention for getting 10 out of 10 for one of the questions.

An outstanding 60 Alton College students achieved gold (14), silver (26) and bronze (20) medals in this year’s Senior Maths Challenge. A total of about 100,000 students nationally take the Senior Maths Challenge so 60 students being awarded medals is an amazing achievement. 

Three students qualified for the British Maths Olympiad 1 (BMO1); Paul Cumner, previously at Robert May’s School who was the College’s top scorer with a mark of 112 out of 125, Will Young, previously at The Petersfield School who scored 111 and Muhanned Al-Khafaji, previously at Bohunt School who also scored 111. Only the top 100 students in the country qualify for the British Maths Olympiad. 

Music

Alton College Music Department has had a very eventful year, including Alton College alumna and world-renowned jazz trumpeter Laura Jurd, previously at Amery Hill School returning to College as teacher of Jazz. She brings with her extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for jazz, performance and composition which fits alongside existing talented teaching staff.

Following a rigorous auditioning process, six students were offered places to study at the country's best music conservatoires. Guildhall School of Music and Drama were so impressed with the number of Alton College students auditioning and have requested that a link between the two institutions be set up which will benefit future students studying music at the College.

In addition to being awarded a place to study Jazz trombone and composition at the Royal Academy of Music, Joel Knee, previously at The Petersfield School, this year won the prestigious Michael Hurd Young Composers Award. The competition is part of the Petersfield Music Festival with the aim of giving local young composers a platform to showcase their music, and to support them in their development as a musician.

The band ‘Loyd’ (made up of several College students studying BTEC Subsidiary Diploma Music Performance, Rock & Pop) were given the opportunity to play in front of crowds at Butserfest, the UK’s largest alcohol and drug-free festival. They won the Battle-of-the-Bands competition at the College’s annual WelcomeFest in July and performed on the Introducing Stage in the rain!

Music students also benefited from donations totalling over £4000 from the Ernest Cook Trust and Music for All and EMI Music Sound Foundation which have enabled the Music Department to purchase a double bass, a bass clarinet and an electronic drum kit. These new instruments will be used by hundreds of music students over the coming years and will enrich learning in solo and ensemble performance.

Art

A group of Art students have this year been participating in a very exciting project run by The Tate in collaboration with the Red Cross called BP Art Exchange. The project is running in parallel in Denmark and featured in a major exhibition for the opening of Tate 2 in June. The initial workshop involved meeting refugee students, mainly from Eritrea and focussed on the theme of 'belonging'. Each student took with them an object which symbolises belonging, to them. They then took part in games based on meeting and greeting new people from different cultures, and shared objects and ideas signifying belonging.

Sport

College students have once again excelled themselves across the sporting field in 2016. At the beginning of the year, The East Hampshire Sports Awards were presented at a special evening where more than 300 sportsmen and women from across the region congregated to recognise sporting achievements and the commitment of the people who make success possible. Two College students received individual awards, Terry Brigdale, previously at Eggar's School, won Junior Sportsman of the Year for his karate success and Tia Ruel, previously at Treloar's School, was runner-up in the Junior Disability Sportsperson of the Year category for her involvement in boccia. Jonathan Berg, previously at Bohunt School, received an award as part of Liphook scout archery club for junior team of the year. In addition, talented College alumnus, Brad Taylor was joint winner of the Senior Sportsman of the Year Award for his success in Captaining the England U19 Cricket team.

This year, Tia has made the British Lions team in Boccia following a successful qualification weekend in Sheffield.  She also went to Russia with Team GB (U21’s) and participated in the GB national championships where she represented England.

This year also saw the first ever girls’ rugby fixture between Alton College and The 6th Form College Farnborough.  The girls from both colleges had been visited by coaches from the ladies’ section of Basingstoke RFC and with help from keen Sport teachers were encouraged to take regular lunchtime sessions.

Sam Jenner, previously at Bohunt School, reached the British Mountaineering Council Youth Series National Final earlier in the year. He was the London and South East area winner which entitled him to compete at the national finals held in Edinburgh, at which he finished ninth overall.

A college team was entered into the Southern Shooting Championships, competing both as a team and in the individual competition. The three students were Oliver Bowler, Luke Evans and Oscar Peterson, all previously at Bohunt School. Oliver Bowler secured a place in the National Championships final finishing in the top 8 of the competition. He now goes on to compete for the National title.

West Indies cricketing legend Desmond Haynes visited campus in the autumn to speak to keen cricket students about his life as a professional cricketer. Students were eager to hear about what it was like representing the West Indies in their heyday, playing against England, training, sledging that went on and socialising.

Peter Langton, previously at Treloar College, this year competed at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in the WheelPower National Junior Games and came third in Boccia and first in both Polybat and Electric Slalom. The Games is an annual event at Stoke Mandeville Stadium for children with disabilities aged between 11 and 18. 

Four Alton College students competed in the English Schools’ Ski Association National Finals event for the first time at the Norfolk Snowsports Centre in Norwich. The College team consisted of Adam Bannister, previously at Eggar’s School, Dan Knight, previously at Bohunt School, Euan Chapman, previously at Weydon School and Ethan Sowik, previously at Amery Hill School. Competing in the U19 Boys category against teams from across the UK, the boys undertook two runs each on the challenging slalom course. Adam came first in the age group, and Euan came second with one second difference between them, and as a team they won silver.

WelcomeFest

Once again, the sun shone on our new students starting in September as they visited College for the annual WelcomeFest in July. The morning was designed to enable students to explore their subject areas through talks and practical hands-on workshops, whilst the afternoon allowed for more of a relaxed experience watching ex-student and X Factor contestant Joe Waller perform on stage with his band, followed by talented current music students performing for the chance to play on the Introducing stage at Butserfest. There were also additional talks and lectures in the afternoon, and the opportunity to try out for the sports teams. For the first time this year the College sponsored the Introducing Stage and a group of students attended the festival to give away bespoke Alton College merchandise and goodies.

School Pupil Visits to Campus

Year 10 pupils from Eggar’s School visited College for exciting vocational subject taster sessions. The group experienced hands on activities in Engineering, in the state-of-the-art Sonardyne Centre, and Public Services.

There was also the opportunity for students to have a tour round the media centre and visit the Health and Social Care department.

The pupils visited the engineering department where they were challenged to design and make a rollercoaster for marbles using just office materials (paper, sellotape, scissors, paper clips). The aim was to make a structure with the slowest run time for the marble from top to bottom, so the pupils had to think of ingenious ways to create curves and bends to slow the marble down using just the basic materials provided.

After the engineering challenge, they moved to the Public Services department where they took part in a team building ladder walk activity which tested their ability to work together to achieve a common goal. They also undertook some other military style physical games to build confidence and esteem.

Amery Hill and Eggar’s Schools’ pupils took part in ‘A play in a day’, (based on Jane Austen’s Emma) part of the town’s Regency Week celebrations on campus. 

The Director, author and play-write Wendy Reynolds devised the plan with Alton College staff, and with the help of the drama teachers from both schools, the plan became reality. In discussion with the Regency Week committee it was agreed that the play could be based on Austen’s novel of 1815 ‘Emma’ and would be for the students of the town’s secondary schools to work on. An adaptation in three sections was produced for the 25 pupils to work on and they joined together in the studio at Alton College for a rehearsed reading and performance.

Each year pupils from around 80 different schools across four counties apply to study at the College. Partner schools visit regularly for subject taster sessions and besoke tours are available for any pupil and their family at any time throughout the year.   

Alumni

Former Alton College student David Smith won boccia gold at the Paralympics in Rio this summer. Having won team gold in Beijing in 2008 and both individual silver and team bronze in London 2012, individual gold in Rio completes the set.

David, previously at Treloar College, was born with cerebral palsy and was introduced to the game of boccia at the age of six. He was world champion by the time he was 18. Having achieved a degree in Aerospace Engineering at Swansea University he returned to the Paralympics this year hoping to go one better than London four years ago, and succeeded.

College alumni Joe Truman, previously at The Petersfield School, this year claimed a European gold medal at the 2016 UEC Track U23 European Championships in Italy. Joe is part of the GB under-23 sprint team alongside Jack Carlin and Olympic reserve rider Ryan Owens. At the beginning of November, he won gold as part of the Great Britain Cycling team in Glasgow as part of their World Cup campaign. He was part of the men’s team pursuit trio who thrilled crowds at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

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