Covid-19 fails to stop ambitious RGS leavers pursuing their dreams

Their final school year may have been abruptly cut short but Covid-19 hasn't deterred these school leavers from pursuing their dreams

THE coronavirus pandemic has not stopped adventurous Ripon Grammar School student leavers aspiring to bright futures.

This year’s ambitious upper sixth form students, whose school life came to an abrupt end in March, have secured coveted offers and internships from a range of prestigious universities, art colleges, employers and voluntary organisations.

Head of sixth form Terry Fell said more students than ever – 167 – have applied to university this year, alongside a significant number planning to take a year out, gaining industry insight and life experience.

Around 70 per cent of students plan to take up places at elite Russell Group universities – despite most universities planning their first terms online - with RGS students receiving seven Oxbridge offers alongside nine offers to study medicine and one for veterinary medicine.

“These are amongst the most challenging applications students can put themselves through, and the most demanding of universities, and their success reflects a very bright year group indeed,” said Mr Fell, adding: “But our students and staff are very clear that there is so much more depth and success to be celebrated in this year group than just these simple headline figures.”

The unique year group is setting off on a wide range of varied and inspirational paths, with some pursuing their art and others gaining highly competitive internships and undergraduate placements in industry. A number are looking forward to setting off on adventurous expeditions and volunteering projects, with two students choosing to study abroad, in New Zealand and the US.

Jack Ibbotson, 17, from Burton Leonard, who studied economics, history and geography at A-level, will be starting a deck officer cadetship, sponsored by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines at Glasgow College, where he will take a degree in nautical sciences and marine operations: "This is something I have always wanted to do, and it is a fantastic opportunity to travel the world for a living,” he said.

Layla Osman, 17, from Ripon, who took maths, physics and chemistry, is planning to study aerospace engineering at the University of Manchester and hopes to become an RAF pilot and eventually go into Space: "I have wanted to do this for a few years now due to my passion for maths and physics and love for Space. The thought of being able to be even a small part of exploring it excites me tremendously. To become an astronaut is my dream job,” she said.

Emma Belward, 18, from Ripon, will study medicine at Newcastle University after taking biology, chemistry and maths at A-level: "I am looking forward to going to university soon, however I know things may be very different when I go. Most universities are doing their first term online so it will be a strange start for most people. I am currently just trying to use this time productively and prepare for my next stage in life."

“These are just a fraction of the inspirational plans and aspirations of this remarkable year group,” said Mr Fell, who said that the situation students found themselves in, with uncertainty over how grades would pan out and their university experience looking likely to be restricted for the first few months was initially quite bewildering.

“However, we can be sure that the dust will eventually settle, and the class of 2020 will step out into their bright futures, wherever they may take them,” he said.

“Whether their paths take them directly into their careers, into study at the very highest level, or whether they have chosen to take the time to reflect and make the right choices for them, our students embark upon those journeys very well-equipped for the challenges that await them.”


Imogen Hayden, 18, from Wensleydale, who studied history, religious studies and English literature, will begin a degree in history of art and curating at the University of York: "I love art history and have always enjoyed visiting historical properties so want to pursue a job in curating. Eventually I hope to become a curator in a historic house such as a National Trust property.”

Jasper Wood, 18 from outside Bedale, who studied maths, chemistry and physics as well as taking an AS level in design technology, plans to take engineering at Durham University: "I was inspired by my love of cars and would like to work in the automotive sector in the future."

Amy Crompton, 18, from Ripon, plans to study osteopathy at the European School of Osteopathy in Maidstone, having taken biology, chemistry and classics at A-level:" I want to help people recover from injuries without the need of medication or surgery, particularly having seen first-hand the struggle of varying sports injuries."

Phoebe Hall, 18, from Ripon, who studied chemistry, English literature, history and maths, plans to defer her offer to study history at Trinity College, Cambridge, after taking a gap year to ensure a more 'normal' student experience in 2021: "A childhood being forced to look around castles, and more importantly some truly fantastic teachers, were what almost inevitably made me to apply to read history as an undergraduate."