We are proud of our alumni and thank them for taking the time to contribute to our website. No two apprenticeship/university career paths are exactly the same and many of our alumni have developed a range of skills and experiences, which we hope will inspire our current students
When I joined Friesland Sixth Form, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after completing my A-Levels, whether to attend university or to leave education look for full-time employment. The staff at Friesland, led my Mat Puddy and my subject teachers, re-ignited in me a passion for learning and encouraged me to develop as an individual based on my own interests, not others’ expectations.
My chosen subjects (English, Film and Media Studies, Sociology and Drama) taught me to approach education with creativity and curiosity, and the support from staff gave me the confidence to apply to university courses. Upon leaving Friesland in 2013, I began an undergraduate degree in Filmmaking at Manchester School of Art, where I developed the skills as a creative practitioner which would lead to work as a freelance filmmaker upon graduation. My work included Cultural Heritage work, Arts Council funded projects, music videos and marketing content, as well as my personal creative practice – making short, community focussed documentaries for exhibitions and screening events.
I then took the decision to return to higher education to study for an MA in Visual Culture, and at the same time began working as a teaching assistant on the Filmmaking Degree at Manchester School of Art. During this time I developed an interest, and then a passion, for teaching, and gradually progressed to the position of Lecturer in Filmmaking, whilst also beginning my PhD research into collaborative documentary filmmaking methods.
I love being able to encourage others in their studies and develop their expertise in the subject; I know first-hand that care and attention given by teachers can shape someone’s whole relationship with learning- this is one of the most important lessons the staff at Friesland taught me! I’m grateful that I was able to benefit from the supportive, engaging and fun environment at Friesland Sixth Form, it truly shaped the way I approach my job- if it wasn’t for this experience I defiantly wouldn’t be working in education and research today!
If anyone would like to speak to me about creative career and education options please ask Mat Puddy for my contact details!
Ben Green (2011-2013)
I started at Sixth Form with the view of going to University to study Sport as it was my passion growing up. I loved playing football, and still do – and wanted to see where it could take me.
I initially studied PE, Psychology and Maths.
I had a difficult first year, taking Maths as an option after securing an A at GCSE, but found it a lot more challenging than I thought. I persevered with the subject, and sought help to improve my grades, with a great deal of support from teachers and my Form Tutor/Head of Sixth Form. Sadly, when it came to my AS Level exams, I hadn’t achieved the grades in Maths to continue.
I had to make to the difficult decision to restart Sixth Form, and I changed subjects from Maths to Geography. I struggled enormously to start with, having to restart with students in the year below me that I didn’t know, and just feeling like giving up – but I was quickly welcomed into the year group and made some great friends to help support me through the next two years, as well as my teachers – and I ended up really enjoying my time at Friesland. All of my teachers were so supportive, and nothing was ever too much trouble, because they want you to succeed just as much as you want to.
Over the 3 years I spent at Sixth Form, I decided that University really wasn’t for me, and that I wanted to start working and find a career that way. By September I had secured a job as a Customer Service Advisor at Boots, and 6 months later, applied for and got a job in the Head Office as a Merchandising Assistant. I have since been promoted and I am now an Assistant Merchandising Manager, looking after Cosmetics – which is a massive achievement for me, looking back at where I was in 2019, having just finished Sixth Form and having no idea what I wanted to do.
I love my job, and I believe that if I hadn’t had had these hurdles to get over whilst studying at Friesland, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I really had to push myself to get through difficult periods in my time at Friesland, but the teachers and staff really helped me, and made me the person I am today.
Charlotte Fitch (2011-2019)
I left Friesland in 2016, went on to further A-Levels studying photography, product design, English combined and EPQ. I achieved AACD. Following this I went to Nottingham Trent University to do a Law (LLB) Degree.
I started my degree in 2018, but due to covid in 2020 our studying went from lectures in lecture halls with hundreds of students to sitting at home listening to them alone. It became a very independent degree, but my tutors were so helpful and ensured we all understood our learning.
I graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2021 with a 2:1 Law Degree. I then originally was going to do my LPC (Legal Practice Course) LLM Masters, but I had also applied for a few jobs. To my amazement I was successful in being offered a paralegal role at Browne Jacobson, which I felt I couldn’t reject – and so I began working as a paralegal in October 2021.
I am completely in love with the job and every day is different. I currently specialise in defending clinical negligence claims which I love. I began my Masters LPC in January 2022, which I do part time whilst working 4 days a week – this course is so intense, so working 5 days whilst studying just was not possible. Luckily my work are flexible, enabling me to progress in my studies and gain experience in a law firm at the same time.
I attended Friesland sixth form 2016-2018 and feel that my time at Friesland prepared me not just for university but for the world of work too.
Whilst at Friesland I was supported greatly in my pursuit of attending university and I graduated in 2021 from the University of Leeds with a BA in English literature and language. I believe my success at university was thanks to the support and guidance I found at sixth form to prepare me for independent learning. What I took from Friesland is that hard work and persistence will pay off. I learnt how to structure my opinion and use my voice in a valuable way and was always pushed to do better, something that I now look back on and value.
I now work in local policing and politics as the research intern for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire. In my role I work with a range of agencies from the Home Office, bidding for grants to improve the local area, to victims support and services, aiding commissioned services to provide for victims. In February of this year, I began working with victims of violence against women and girls (VAWG), helping to create a co-commissioned strategy for tackling VAWG across Derbyshire.
I would also like to note that I was an external student who was welcomed into the school by the teachers and students with open arms. I am lucky enough to have made great friends who, following Friesland, are all achieving great things in their chosen fields of law, teaching and quantity surveying.
My time at Friesland began in 2016 when I started studying my chosen A Level subjects: Maths, Further Maths and History. As an external student I was obviously nervous to join the school but the students and teachers couldn’t have been more welcoming. I really enjoyed my two years at Friesland, from meeting new friends, to studying subjects that really interested me to joining the Namibia trip with 10 weeks to go; I couldn’t have asked for a better sixth form experience. (That trip to Namibia is still the best thing I have ever done!!!)
Although I had always enjoyed maths, studying both maths and further maths A-Level was really challenging. I didn’t have much confidence in myself and at times wondered if I would complete further maths at all. However, the small class sizes at Friesland were great, the teachers were so supportive and their encouragement is a huge part of why I went on to study maths at the University of Lincoln. Last summer I graduated with first class honours and am now completing my teacher training year with the hope of encouraging others to study maths too! Next year I am looking to start working towards my master in education alongside the ECT programme.
Friesland allowed me to gain my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award which I am super proud of! Through the award I volunteered with Derby Kids Camp to complete the residential challenge. Since leaving sixth form I have continued to volunteer with the charity and this year will be one of 6 camp leaders helping organise 6 weeks of free holidays for some of Derby’s most deserving children. My involvement with DKC wouldn’t have begun without the opportunities provided by Friesland.
I will always be really thankful for the two years I spent studying at Friesland. The support offered really helped prepare me for university and my future teaching career!
Looking back to ten years ago, we realised some of our most enjoyed times were at Friesland Sixth Form.
Both of us were very strong at the practical side of sports and so partnered this with the scientific subjects whilst at sixth form. Working in this field felt like the natural progression from playing part-time sport and so sixth form set us up well to do that. We both completed Sports Therapy degrees and then Masters degrees in Strength and Conditioning, and Scott went on to become the VP of sport and wellbeing at the University.
The teachers and staff at Friesland not only set us up on the right academic pathway, but also allowed us to understand the other opportunities that arise from developing skills and expanding knowledge and experience in other areas. Something we doubt we would have explored had it not been for the guidance and support from the staff at Friesland.
At University we both captained successful first teams, won national titles, honours presented by the chancellor and have left a legacy at the institutions. During this time, we were scouted to work in the fashion industry and have since been the face of campaigns for the likes of Giorgio Armani and TM Lewin. We have lived in various other cities such as Madrid, San Francisco and Delhi. Now, we work across multiple industries, Brett is completing a PhD in public health and has presented research at the world’s leading symposiums and congress’, whilst still working as a model and brand advocate across the fashion industry. Scott, worked as a brand manager and has since gone on to work in creative direction in the sustainability space, again alongside modelling and brand ambassadorships. Despite multiple career pathways, we are still regular features at fashion weeks, throughout Europe, featured in Vogue and GQ, and travel for work in all our roles.
These approaches to our career and our interpersonal skills were developed during our time at Friesland Sixth Form, with motivating and supportive staff (such as Mr York and Mr Patterson), who provided us with the tools we needed to be successful alongside our A-Level subjects.
I completed my secondary education and also A Levels in Maths, German and History at Friesland. Since, I have finished my degree in Accounting & Finance at Sheffield Hallam University and achieved a first class honours.
I believe the skills and coaching I received at both University and Friesland Sixth Form have helped me land my current job at KPMG as an Auditor on their graduate scheme; alongside studying for my ACA (professional accounting) qualification.
The focus on languages at Friesland also played a large part in standing apart from others in job applications and gave me the opportunity to study German for a module at University, so I am grateful for the encouragement around this. I’m looking forward to an interesting career ahead of me and the many opportunities available at KPMG.
What first encouraged you/attracted you to think about applying to Cambridge?
I went on a residential trip in July run by Murray Edwards and I really liked the campus/vibe and the talks given.
How did you prepare for applying to Cambridge over time?
I read a few of the books suggested for incoming students, I did past papers for my admissions assessment and listened to the news a lot more to increase my awareness of current affairs.
Can you describe what it was like actually being interviewed at Cambridge?
It was a lot more relaxed than I expected, the waiting room was full of students who were really friendly and it calmed my nerves. I had an hour assessment beforehand with some questions and I had to talk about them in the interview. In the other interview I was just given maths questions and asked to attempt them (thinking out loud). It was all about my subject and was quite an enjoyable experience.
What are you studying at Cambridge and which College?
Economics at Fitzwilliam College
Danielle White (2013-2020) – A Levels: Chemistry, Maths, Psychology, Extended Project Qualification
I chose an Apprenticeship over University as I wanted to do software development. I felt the experience in the role was more important than book learning. I also wanted to dive straight into the world of work because I had already decided exactly what I wanted to do which differs to some of my friends who are going to University as they are still unsure and one degree can lead to multiple career paths. Originally the job I got offered was a Level 3 Apprenticeship, I got the Job due to the fact I had applied for a different apprenticeship through EMA training.
I am currently really enjoying my work life for several reasons, the first being that I am doing a job I enjoy. I like writing code and solving problems and I am learning something new every day. Another reason is that the company is great and really supportive. It is a family run business and they do some really good work making websites, some of which I have already been involved in which are currently live. My bosses are really supportive and have moved me up to a level 4 Apprenticeship and have said they would fully support me to do a level 5 afterwards, which made me very happy as after around 4 years I will have an equivalent qualification as if I went to Uni but I will have 4 years more experience than other graduates which is invaluable in my field.
David Hedley (2013–2020); A Levels: Physics, Computer Science, Maths
Personally, university wasn’t for me, I am much more of a practical person and wanted to gain first-hand experience in a business. With the support and careers guidance from Sixth Form it enabled me to feel more confident with this decision. The sixth form were committed to weekly talks discussing our options post A-Level studies which enabled us to see and think about what is available. One of the most useful events from Sixth Form were the career days, where we could talk to employees from companies such as Boots PLC and Rolls Royce.
I was fortunate to take part in the DANCOP ‘Learn to work’ scheme, which consisted of talking to an external group of people about potential career paths. A particularly useful exercise consisted of constructing CV’s and taking part in mock interviews. We finished the scheme with a trip to Bowmer & Kirkland, a construction company, where we discussed what employers look for in individuals and how to succeed in interviews.
I succeeded in securing a role as a Marketing Executive for a welding company called Foster Industrial. My overarching aim is to improve the company’s digital sales offering whilst driving lead generation. My main tasks are running and creating content for their website which includes copywriting, product updates and product pricing, as well as day to day running of all social media platforms to position the company as an on-trend player in the market.
Without the support of Sixth Form I wouldn’t be where I am today, in a role that I thoroughly enjoy. They helped me understand my strengths and how to use these to be successful in my future.
Emily Cox (2013-2020) – A Levels: English, Psychology, Business, Extended Project Qualification
After leaving sixth form I was gaining experience to train to become paramedic, something I did my EPQ on whilst at Friesland, when my Dad signed me up for a talent ID programme with the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton team.
To gain a place on this national team I underwent a talent ID process called Discover Your Gold for which there were over 3000 applications and only 6 were selected at the end, and I was one of them. My A level in PE has really helped me as it allowed me to learn about every aspect of the sporting world. The broad syllabus confirmed for me that sport is an environment I wanted to be a part of. The main thing about PE at Friesland that helped me is how supportive the teachers are. No matter what level of sport you are at they never fail to be really encouraging and enthusiastic, and even now I have left sixth form they continue to support me.
In the summer I train full time in the gym and on the push track in the UK, then in the winter I travel to multiple tracks around the world to improve my sliding. Having joined the official GB team within the last year, I reached my first goal in February 2021 and represented GB at the Europa cup in Innsbruck. I came 5th out of 30, only 0.013 of a second off getting a medal on my debut performance. I used to be a sprinter and a long jumper and as a result have a really fast start which is vital in skeleton. Top sliders travel at over 75mph, face first down the ice, so it isn’t a sport for the faint hearted!
Freya Tarbit (6th Form 2016-2018) – A Levels: PE, Psychology, History and EPQ
Studying: BSc Psychology at Bangor University
My time at Friesland Sixth Form was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience even if it was cut short by six months. I studied Psychology, Biology and English at A-Level, and I enjoyed Psychology so much that I decided to continue to study it at university.
One of the highlights of my time at Friesland was the incredible quality of teaching we received. As we are a small sixth form we were able to have smaller class sizes, meaning we got more individual attention and detailed personal feedback on essays.
Another benefit of being a small sixth form was the incredibly tight knit community amongst my year group in particular. I was always challenged to think of alternative perspectives, different viewpoints and to evaluate topics at deeper levels.
I’m so grateful for all the transferrable skills I was taught in all my subjects, especially essay writing skills.
Katie Baddiley (2013-2020) – A Levels: Psychology, Biology, English
I am currently studying Medicine at the University of Sheffield having spent seven years at Friesland. In the Sixth Form I took Biology, Chemistry and Maths which is a typical combination of subjects before studying Medicine.
Work Experience was essential in relation to studying Medicine and I also had to sit an Admissions Test and complete a range of activities at interview before being offered a place. I was fortunate to be offered places at all four Med Schools and it is clear that the Admissions Test score contributed significantly to these offers alongside performance at interview.
Whilst at Friesland Sixth Form I found the motivation to really push myself, as natural ability has to be combined with hard work and organised independent study.
I have enjoyed returning to Friesland to offer advice to potential Med School students of the future.
Matt White (2011-2018)
- A Levels – Biology, Design technology, ICT Double award
- BTEC – Medical Science
- AS Levels – Business, Chemistry
From a very young age I knew that the scientific field was an area I was passionate about and I took this into my A-levels to hopefully boost me into my desired sector. I found the pressures of Sixth form quite daunting to begin with, however, I believe this was because of the pressure I put on myself. I quickly began to realise that I still needed to enjoy my education/subjects for it to maintain a passion of mine. I did a mixture of A-levels and a BTEC at sixth form which enabled me to obtain the grades I needed for university with a blended style of learning.
University was a dream as I would have been the first member of my family to go. I started to doubt myself after I decided to retake year 12 to improve my grades that I would not get the chance to go to university. I must hold my hands up and applaud the staff within the science department as their dedication and support allowed me to look at my future in a brighter way.
My degree in Animal Science gave me a wide avenue of job prospects to which I started a job at Nottingham Trent university as a Technician within the microbiology team, within my job I was presented the opportunity to retrain in line with IBMS (Institute of Biomedical Science). This propelled my career within the microbiology field where I supported Undergrad and postgrad students. I was later headhunted to be a technical support and sales manager for the Midlands and South east of the UK where I worked within several industry sectors: Brewery, Cosmetic, Diary, Food and Beverage, Pharmaceutical, Veterinary, Water Testing and Hygiene Monitoring. Because of the experience I have gained within industry I was presented an opportunity to become a senior teaching technician within the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham where I deliver the practical teaching within the school over a range of modules and support PhD students with their research in drug development. My aspirations within this job are to develop my skills set within the Pharma sector and I aspire to become a Technical Tutor within the future where I can provide more support and deliver a wider range of subjects to the cohort of students.
Although now things might feel strange, I would encourage you all to take each day as it comes whilst at sixth form and ask for as much help and support that you require as I know the staff there will be there to support you. There is no right or wrong way to develop your future as it’s what works best for you.
I would like to also take this opportunity to thank all the staff at Friesland School/Sixth form who helped me within my education allowing me to get where I am today.
Matthew Calladine (2005-2013)
I studied at Friesland all the way from year 7 to year 13 and I am now studying Engineering at Jesus College, Cambridge.
Cambridge first crossed my mind in year 11 when I was encouraged by my teachers to apply for a summer school. The residential was set up by the university to try and inspire children from state schools and low-income areas to apply. I spent 3 days living in Cambridge
and attending classes with other people from similar backgrounds and I loved it.
They made it clear on this summer school that the most important thing for a potential applicant is to demonstrate their passion for their subject and their teachability, these were more important than the straight A* record you would expect. So, in preparation for my application, I read around my subject and did work experience rather than focusing solely on my grades.
Since I had my A levels lowered by the COVID grade assigning algorithm, I narrowly missed my offer, coming out with A*AAA when I needed A*A*AA, but the college emailed me to say they would like to confirm my place regardless. This is testament to the fact that you don’t need straight A*s to go to a top university, if you demonstrate your diligence and love for your subject, this matters much more.
Rachel Gould (2013-2020) – A Levels: Biology, Chemistry, Maths
I’m Ryan Banner, once a student at Friesland School.
As Mr Patterson would know, in my early years at School, I never had any motive but to join the Police Force but didn’t ever think I could achieve this. It wasn’t until my final year at Friesland I decided to really start working hard, as before then I wasn’t on target for achieving any grades. At the end of exams, I got the 5 GCSEs I needed, and 4 years down the line here I am in my dream career, as a Police Constable for Derbyshire Constabulary.
Its never too late to try and achieve the best you can, but I recommend you start working hard from the beginning. This way you set yourself up perfectly for whatever career path you may follow!
For my A-Levels, I took Psychology, Business Studies, Design & Technology and EPQ. My favourite subject was Design & Technology, as I enjoyed designing and watching my ideas turn from concepts into actual products. I have made so many happy memories during Sixth Form, despite my time there being sadly cut short.
Due to there being a good social atmosphere, I developed a close group of friends who I created most of my memories with. The teachers were always happy to help and made the lessons so much more enjoyable – I couldn’t have asked for a better time!
After leaving Sixth Form, I feel very lucky to have found an apprenticeship within the field I have always wanted to work in. I am currently working as a trainee for a local Building Services company and I am working towards becoming a Mechanical Engineer.
(2013-2020) – A Levels: Design & Technology, Psychology, Business, Extended Project Qualification
I really enjoyed my time at Friesland sixth form. It felt like a very natural step towards University following my GCSE’s and allowed me to achieve great A-levels thanks to a high quality of teaching. I am a nationally ranked canoe slalom athlete and Friesland was good at being flexible when I had training and competitions. I took A-levels in Maths, Product Design and Physics and achieved A*AA, in addition to an A* in my EPQ. These results allowed me to study Product Design and Manufacture at the University of Nottingham, where I am in my second year. I have also founded a company called OHM Resistance Design where I design, manufacture, and sell training devices for Canoeists. This formed the basis of my EPQ and I have since sold a product to an athlete who will be competing at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. I would recommend Friesland Sixth Form to any student who wants to continue their academic career to A-levels and beyond.
(2012-2019) – A Levels: Design & Technology, Maths, Physics & EPQ
In regards to my time at Sixth Form. I found Friesland Sixth form to be an understanding and highly caring environment. The teachers were always there to support me even when I was going through some horrible times and they were understanding in the periods I was falling behind. I would (and have) recommended the sixth form to others, especially those who would benefit form a close working environment and small class sizes.
Since leaving the sixth form, I’ve enrolled onto the Bachelors of Architecture course at De Montfort university. During my first year I was accepted onto the selective study trip to Rome. Only the top 25% of the year were allowed on this trip and I have attached some photos of my experience in a following email. I graduated year one with a First and will confidently say that the Sixth form helped me build up my confidence, thereby aiding me in getting such a high grade. Since the pandemic, I have also got a dispensary assistant qualification as I went back to work for the NHS.
I’d genuinely like to thank Mr Puddy, Mrs Pitman and the rest of the Sixth form staff for helping me throughout sixth form. Things weren’t easy for those few years but knowing I could turn to the faculty for support and aid when required was the main motivator in keeping me going.
(2012-2019) – A Levels: Physics, maths, Drama, Extended Project Qualification
Above anything else, sport was always my passion whilst at Friesland. Having played football for the school team, Derbyshire Schools and Derby County Academy, I knew I wanted to be involved in sport as a career but the options always seemed limited. When I was released from the academy in Year 11, I had to face the reality that professional football wouldn’t be an option for me and had to change my plan.
I had some fantastic advice from the Sixth Form staff, my Form Tutor and my parents. After some time spent doing work experience, I decided Physiotherapy would be a great option for me to tie in my interest with Biology, Science and Sport. I achieved A*,A,B in my A levels and I studied Physio at Brunel University London, training in the London teaching hospitals as part of my degree. I worked initially across Derbyshire before moving to Brighton, gaining some experience working in the NHS on the south coast. I continued to do some voluntary work at the London and Brighton marathons and a small amount of private work. In 2019, I decided I wanted to travel and experience life abroad. When I set out to be a Physio, I had never realised how sought after the skillset was abroad and after weighing up options in Canada and New Zealand, myself and my girlfriend decided New Zealand would be the way to go.
After 3 months spent travelling the country, I began working in a private clinic in Tauranga and worked up to a senior clinical role over an 18-month period. Nine months ago I was appointed Lead Physiotherapist for Bay of Plenty Cricket, gaining the opportunity to work with representative, first class, international standard cricketers. As well as working closely with the senior Bay of Plenty teams and local cricket academies, I have had the opportunity to treat international standard triathletes, hockey players and of course football players. I am now studying towards my Masters degree in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy at Auckland University whilst we live beachside in beautiful Mount Maunganui.
It was a lot of hard work to get to this point. Learning to be adaptable and solution-oriented has been so important and was a valuable lesson learned at Friesland and one I’m still learning now. I love my job and I am extremely excited to see where the path will lead to next.
I really cannot overstate how much support I have received from Friesland Sixth Form, both during and after my time here.
During my A Levels the teaching quality was great and tailored to support my aspirations. The depth of work allowed me to push myself to achieve my best possible grades. The classes were the perfect size for detailed group discussions and an individual academic focus.
When it came to applying to university, the support was invaluable. With the help of the Sixth Form I felt confident enough to apply to top universities and the careers staff helped me to tailor a personal statement that allowed me to reach my potential.
Since leaving Friesland this support has continued. Throughout university the sixth form has provided me with references that have helped me obtain work experience in the legal sector.
Through the continued help and mentoring of the staff here, I have been able to achieve scholarships and awards that allowed me to fund my postgraduate legal degree.
Friesland Sixth Form has helped me achieve my aspirations and it is only with their support that I am now able to embark on my career as a pupil barrister
(2014-2016) – A Levels: English Literature, Sociology, Business, Extended Project Qualification
Since finishing my A Levels at Friesland, I’ve gone on to study ‘Modern Languages and Drama’ at Royal Holloway University of London – it’s a gorgeous campus and I feel so lucky to be here. I’m currently preparing for my year abroad in a German-speaking country which is both scary and exciting!
My time at Friesland is one that I remember so fondly. The teachers always encouraged me to achieve my full potential and the positive and friendly atmosphere was what first attracted me to the school. To me, what makes Friesland so special is the pride they take in the extra-curricular as well as the academic. I have so many wonderful memories such as taking part in a German exchange, the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, and Sixth Form trips to Blackpool and Berlin. I was also able to study for a GCSE in Astronomy once a week after school! But I think most of my time was spent in the Performing Arts department. I loved it all: the theatre trips, workshops, LAMDA exams and show rehearsals – everyone knows Friesland shows are second to none! It was absolutely the right decision for me to stay on at Sixth Form which was just as friendly and supportive. It turned out to be two more fantastic years! A big thank you to everyone at Friesland who made my time here so enjoyable.
On the subjects Rhiannon took at A Level
ENGLISH LITERATURE: I recommend studying English Literature A Level as you will widen your understanding of the world through books, develop critical thinking and improve your essay writing skills in a caring and friendly environment. I loved our class debates each week – it was fascinating to hear the different ways we had interpreted the texts. My favourites were ‘Othello’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’.
GERMAN: Taking any language to A Level standard is something that will really set you apart from others. Studying German was a challenge that pushed me out of my comfort zone but I’m so glad I persevered. I’d like to thank my teachers and Mr Puddy for going out of their way to help me make the jump from GCSE.
(2012-2019) – A Levels: English Literature, German and Drama
I joined Friesland Sixth Form not knowing anyone from my year group, moving in the opposite direction from my secondary school friends – yet it was the best move I ever made. I was a quiet person and lacked confidence, but understood I had to push myself out of my comfort zone (drama!) to gain experience and help build this up. I loved my time at Friesland, from the other students to the amazing teachers and the extracurricular experiences (skiing in Canada) made my two years there so memorable.
University wasn’t really something I ever really considered, I would be the first in my family to attend, still I thought I would apply and go visit a few places to get a feel for it – poor dad drove up and down the country that year. I wanted to do something within media and landed my first-choice place at the University of Lincoln on their BA (Hons) Media Production course. This course allowed me to experiment with the different areas of media (radio, tv, film, design, etc) where I graduated specialising in film production. Our final film won numerous awards from within the university as well as external competitions.
My employment journey has been extremely varied, and each job has taught me so many things. I have freelanced throughout my years working on short films, advertisements and corporate as both camera operator and editor. My first full time job was working for a print firm that specialised in online property auctions, where I created the videos for each property to be showcased on their website. I moved onto being head of post-production and main editor at a small production company specialising in both corporate and high-end Asian weddings, this role taught me so much about being organised and working directly with clients, as well as becoming an expert on Asian weddings!
Currently I am working for the University of Derby in their Technology Enhanced Learning department as a Learning Technology Media Adviser. I provide support and training in the use of media within learning, teaching and assessment activities. I engage with staff to enable them to produce innovative video and audio learning resources, researching emerging technologies and working closely with colleagues across the university. While here, I have implemented the use of video case studies, interactive learning escape rooms, media-based assessments and created websites for various programmes within the institution. Alongside my current role, I mentor students who work part-time within our team, working in partnership with academic staff to create digital teaching and learning resources for their students. I have taken all these different processes of learning to conferences throughout the UK and am currently finalising a research paper for publication in a world-wide educational journal.
I am still continuing my learning and education, most recently I completed my Master’s in Education at Derby, where I concentrated on the use of media for teaching and learning purposes, as well as currently working towards my Senior Fellowship in Higher Education. Both my education and career paths have gone in ways I would never have imagined they would when I was a sixth form student studying for my A-Levels, but I have enjoyed each and every role I have done. I think you have to remember that it does not matter what life throws at you, both the ups and the downs, you will come through the other end and hopefully appreciate the learning journey it has sent you on. As I have demonstrated your education never finishes, I never in a million years expected to have a masters – I didn’t want to go back to studying at all – but here I am after completing it while working full time by mixing two of my passions of media and education.
Who knows where the next path will take me, but if you push yourself, believe in yourself, you will achieve more than you think you are capable of.
(2004-2006) – A-Levels: Media Studies, Psychology, Drama
Shortly after leaving sixth form I decided to take a gap year as I wasn’t really keen on the idea of a £9k per year course I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do. I think this was the best decision I made. I applied for a seasonnaire position in Val Thorens, France, where I worked full time and snowboarded for 6 months. Shortly after, I travelled Asia and hopped over the waters to work in Western Australia. Coming back home felt a little depressing so I took the leap and moved to London on my own for a fresh start.
A few more years and odd jobs down the line I began to realise how much I missed music. I eventually ended up going to The University of Hertfordshire in 2015 where I studied ‘Music Composition and Technology’. I had the best 3 years, I loved every project I worked on and produced my own Ambient electronic album. I never believed I would achieve a 1st Class Honours, but somehow I did and I’ve never been so proud of myself!
School was difficult for me as I’m a slow but methodical learner, so trying to keep up with the pressure of multiple subjects was a real struggle. I always had ‘average’ grades, It really only dawned on me as an adult that actually this is ok, and nothing to be ashamed about, it’s impossible to expect every student to learn in the same way. I found what I was good at and I put my all into it.
After uni I interned for Air-Edel which is one of the top music agencies which supervise and compose music for corporations such as Disney, BBC, Netflix. I then went to work for Merlin Digital Rights which look after record label rights when distributing their content across Spotify, YouTube, etc. This job took me to fancy music awards and bougie events across London. After Merlin, I flew out to Ibiza to train in Artist Management where I got to co-manage a famous techno DJ. I then went to work in business development for a ticketing platform which works with music festivals around the world so I got to visit many cool events and countries.
I’ve been out of work for a while due to the pandemic but I am so grateful for this year of reflection to allow me the time to think about what I really want to do. I realised I craved the solitude of a quiet life and it really put the spotlight on how important it is to have a healthy work-life balance. Thanks to 2020 I finally have the time to make music again.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the pure love and support from Mrs Beckett which she emanated in her daily life! There was nothing more comforting then seeing her big smile and reassuring nod when we were welcomed on to stage (to what we thought was the most nerve-racking performance of our lives!). I owe my success to all the Friesland performing arts staff, and I’m grateful for their support and genuine passion to see their students do well.
I am sure Mrs Beckett will clearly recall the day she got a call to let her know “April is stranded in Canada so won’t be able to sit her A-Level music exam”. I believed all hell was about to break loose when I got back to school with that daunting feeling I was going to fail. Luckily, without sitting my exam I still managed to JUST pass my A-level Music.
In reality employers are not really too bothered about your grades. Hard work and passion shows through your personal statement and gives the employer the real you. So if there is anything you can take from my story, remember; Find what your passion is and THRIVE in every aspect of it (we can’t be good at everything). Don’t think your current situation defines what you are capable of, and finally… don’t go abroad during exam months!
(2005-2012) – A-Levels: Music, Music Technology, Sociology
What are you going to study at Cambridge and which college?
Mathematics, Girton College
What first encouraged you/attracted you to think about applying to Cambridge?
The idea had been there since a trip to Oxford in year 11, in year 12 I visited both of them and decided the place, more intense style (short terms of hard work), and the prestige appealed to me. I have no clear career plans so thought it’d be the best thing to do
How did you prepare for applying to Cambridge over time?
Knowing I’d have to sit STEP exams I did questions from STEP and other similar papers such as the MAT on the side throughout year 13 by finding questions/papers online and also sat the TMUA in October. This prep also was also for the interview
Can you describe what it was like actually being interviewed at Cambridge?
In my case it was very comfortable and I actually enjoyed the interviews once they started, since the interviewers only asked questions which were Maths problems to solve bar one personal question about rock climbing
(2013-2020) – A Levels: Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths