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Year 11 Leavers Reflect On Time At Tollbar After Covid-Hit Final Year

Some of the 356 Year 11 students at Tollbar Academy who will leave school today. They are pictured with Mrs Victoria Watts, Interim Principal at the Academy.

Tollbar Academy Interim Principal Victoria Watts paid tribute to her Year 11 students today as they prepared to celebrate their final day at school by looking back on their experiences at the Academy.

Mrs Watts described how proud staff are of the students, whose exams and normal end of year activities have been seriously curtailed by Covid restrictions. 

“I am so proud of the Year 11s. We have 356 of them and they have had their own block and common room area throughout the pandemic where they have created a lovely atmosphere, and it has been really nice going down there. They have been hard working and dedicated, despite all of the changes and difficulties that Covid has thrown at them, and we wish them all every success for the future,” she said.

“Although they have not been able to have their end of year Prom because of Covid-19, they will celebrate their final day today with a barbecue and fancy dress costumes.”

Year 11 student Abbie Gurnhill (16) said she had thoroughly enjoyed her time at Tollbar and will leave with a host of skills and experience to take her forward.

“I have learned many valuable skills, met great friends and developed new interests whilst studying for my GCSES,” she explained. “I have many memories from my time at Tollbar, from achieving top grades thanks to my teachers, and having a great time with fellow pupils. 

“My teachers supported me in all my lessons, offering advice, areas to improve and answering any questions I had. The online lessons during the Covid lockdowns really helped me maintain my grades.” 

Abbie won’t be going far though, as she will return in the Autumn to study for her A Levels at Tollbar MAT Sixth Form College

“I have chosen to study A Levels at Tollbar Sixth Form because the teachers have given me great information, with one-to-one talks, discussing my options and how I can pursue my future career path. My teachers have also spoken to me about my A Level choices and what the courses include, and whether I would be suited for them, helping me make my decision. I hope to go on to study Medicine in the future.”

Fellow Year 11 student Conrad Barr (16) will be joining Abbie to study for his A Levels at Tollbar MAT Sixth Form College. He said: “What has stood out for me during my time at Tollbar is the consideration which the teachers have for each and every student, no matter what year they were in or how big the issue was, they would always look for an appropriate way to help us.

“Tollbar staff have helped me achieve my targets through their continued support, especially during lockdowns, and an equal amount of care and attention was provided to every student.

“I have chosen Tollbar Sixth Form College next because I find the environment within Tollbar perfect for me, and the smaller size at the college will allow me to put a greater focus on my learning and work with much less distractions than at a larger college.

“The Academy has helped me prepare for this next step by providing careers lessons every week and making sure that I have been given every bit of information to help me majorly improve my chances of 

Tollbar Academy Year 11 students who leave school today and have been reflecting on their time at Tollbar and the experiences they will take away with them. They are: (l-r) Elizabeth Northern, Conrad Barr, Abbie Gurnhill, Kieran Wilson and Lydia Walton (all 16).

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Tollbar Academy Interim Principal

Victoria Watts