A STUDENT who missed school from year nine has gone on to achieve a college qualification and his GCSEs.

Darlington College student Stewart Ward not only secured his Level 1 plumbing but also managed to gain grade 4 in both maths and English GCSEs despite living with hypermobility syndrome.

The condition affects the joints and means that Stewart struggles to write well as he has difficulty manipulating a pen.

With the support of tutors and using a computer to write, the 18-year-old, of Darlington, reached his personal milestones including a merit in spoken English.

He said: “I thought I’d better try college and staff were so friendly and welcoming.

"I wanted to take plumbing and also needed maths and English and I came away with all three.

"I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to Level 2 plumbing now and hopefully find an apprenticeship.

“The tutors are great and we have always got on. I have learned so much and my family are delighted.

"When I first started at college I was really quiet, I literally didn’t speak to anyone. But now I have made friends and it has boosted my confidence and self-esteem.

"It has made me realise that I can do anything I set my mind to.”

Curriculum manager for English and maths, Lois Calvert, had high praise for Stewart who started the courses a month late but didn’t miss a single day at college.

She said: “Stewart has been an absolute superstar and never missed a lesson. He has worked so hard and even became involved with the student committee.

“We have had a number of students go up several grades in just a year. Some went from 2s and 3s to secure 6s.

"We have smaller class sizes and can tailor individual approaches to learning, so we can target areas of improvement and put in enhancement sessions and tutorials.

"Our staff quickly build relationships wit students and when you see them have a lightbulb moment it is so rewarding as the smiles spread across their faces."