What our
students say

School Leaver Stories

Thinking of joining Queen Alex straight from school? Get a taste of the experience from our current students who did exactly that.

From how much they’ve learnt, to how independent they’ve become, these stories reveal everything you can expect when you join Queen Alex.

Students piggybacking in the park

COLLEGE OR SCHOOL

Which is right for you?

Staying on at your school or joining a sixth form college to study your A Levels each brings a unique experience. So how do these environments differ, and how can you decide which is right for you? Here’s what to expect.

College
School

College life

  • A more informal environment.
  • No need to wear uniforms.
  • Larger than most schools.
  • No distraction from younger children as all students are at least 16.
  • Opportunity to meet new friends.
  • Given more independence, helping to bridge the gap between school and university/employment.
  • Broader range of courses and qualifications.
Student using their mobile phone

School Life

  • Familiar environment that you’re used to.
  • Likely required to still wear uniform.
  • Maintain contact with existing friends that are staying on at school.
  • Studying is monitored closely by teachers 
  • Courses are specifically designed to follow on from GCSEs.
  • Less free time between lessons.
  • Similar schedule to what you’ve experienced at school (lunch times etc.).
Person using a laptop
Headshot of James Bell

James Bell, 18, from Killingworth, will study accounting and finance at Newcastle University after gaining A* in physics, A in business and Further Maths, and B in maths. He said:

“I was very happy with my grades. The experience of learning at Queen Alexandra was great, I really enjoyed my courses. Queen Alexandra is an amazing place to learn – the lecturers are fantastic and enthusiastic and do all they can to get you the grades you need. Even with online learning, they are easy to get in touch with, often even in the evenings. The mix of classroom and online learning worked very well and ensured I learned at the necessary level. I would definitely recommend Queen Alexandra to anyone looking for the best place to take their A levels, it’s a super place to study. There’s really good interaction between the students and teachers, and if you’re prepared to put the effort in, you will get your rewards.”

James Bell
Headshot of Ella Bland

Ella Bland, 20, from Seaton Deleval, gained B grades in criminology, sociology and law – and may progress to a career with the police or Border Force. She said:

“I worked hard throughout my course and I was very happy with my grades. Queen Alexandra adapted really well to the demands of delivering learning during Covid-19, I was very impressed. With the help of my lecturers, I found it easy to adapt to the mix of remote learning and classroom learning. My lecturers were pretty much always available to answer my queries, even late into the evening if I emailed them. I was given all the support I needed to gain the grades I was aiming for. I was born in Australia but moved to the North East with my family six years – I may go back to live there. I’m thinking of a career with the police of Border Force, either here or in Australia. My A levels will help me. I am confident Queen Alexandra has given me the qualifications I need for my next step, wherever and whatever that is.”

Ella Bland
Headshot of Max Romage

Max Ramage, 19, from Tynemouth, has won a place at Newcastle University to study computer science after gaining A* in psychology and business, and A in maths. He said:

“I’m very happy indeed with the results I gained at Queen Alexandra. My results have made my days and nights of hard work very well worthwhile. I thought I would do well, based on my course work, and it’s nice to know my results were as good as I’d hoped. Queen Alexandra gave me great support with my maths – I’ve gone from Foundation course level to A levels, and now degree level. There’s been a lot of late nights studying and it was tough at times, but my lecturers helped ensure every second counted. I’m now in a great position to take my degree and hopefully to progress into a career as a software engineer. I had a very positive experience at Queen Alexandra, my maths lecturers were always supportive My lecturers were always available to answer any questions I had.”

Max Ramage
Headshot of Lauren Collins

Lauren Collins, 18, from Howden, has booked a place at Cambridge University to study law after gaining A* in law, psychology and history. She said:

“I worked hard throughout my course and expected good results – with Queen Alexandra’s help, I got them. I’m delighted to have done so well and I’m looking forward to starting at Cambridge University. I want to be a solicitor, and gaining such good A levels puts me in a very good position to achieve my career ambitions. I needed an A* in history and two As, so I did even better than I needed to do. I enjoyed my time at Queen Alexandra, I was given all the support and help I needed. Studying at Queen Alexandra gave me a level of independence that I wouldn’t have benefitted from at a school sixth form. I hadn’t thought of doing law until I came to Queen Alexandra, the college opened this amazing door for me. Anyone looking for a place to do their A levels should seriously consider coming to Queen Alexandra, I really recommend it. The lecturers are committed to what they do and really do their very best for their students.”

Lauren Collins
Headshot of Liz Ilderton

Liz Ilderton, 19, from Wallsend, gained a B grade in law, having already passed two A levels during earlier study at Queen Alexandra. She said:

“My courses at Queen Alexandra mean I can now do a law degree at Newcastle University. I was determined to do well because I know that gaining a degree means I’m likely to make more money in whichever career I decide on. I’m undecided about what I want to do, but whatever I set my mind on, having a degree will put me in a very good position. I enjoyed the experience of learning at Queen Alexandra – the staff were always helpful, and the facilities are very good. I would recommend Queen Alexandra to school-leavers – it has certainly opened the door to a degree for me.”

Liz Ilderton
Headshot of Hannah Wall

Hannah Wall, 18, from North Shields, gained an A* in psychology and A in biology and chemistry – and will take a Childhood Studies course at Northumbria University. She said:

“I did better than I expected. My hard work, and the support of my lecturers, ensured I beat my own expectations. I passed due to a mix of hard work and very good teaching – I always felt I could approach staff to get any help I needed. Restrictions on classroom learning due to Covid were not detrimental. After all, I got the grades I needed. The team at Queen Alexandra responded really quickly to Covid and were fast to put very excellent remote learning in place. I’m very happy with my results – coming to Queen Alexandra to study has really got me the grades I needed. Anyone studying at Queen Alexandra can be sure to get all the help and support they need to pass their course and get to university.”

Hannah Wall
Headshot of Eduard Boldi

Eduard Boldi, 18, from North Shields, gained an A in physics, B in maths and C in psychology, and has extra qualifications already taken. He said:

“My A level grades have booked me a place at Derby University to study for a maths degree. Passing my A levels means I am now very well placed for a career in either finance or as a software engineer. I’ve really enjoyed the sense of independence and freedom that studying at Queen Alexandra brought. I’m an elite level basketball player with Newcastle Eagles’ under-19 team – my lecturers always encouraged me in that. As an elite level basketball player who had to play away matches, they ensured I never missed any course work. Studying at Queen Alexandra has put me in a really good place to progress my career, whether it be in finance or as a software engineer. The teaching team at Queen Alexandra do all they can to support students with their learning during Covid. For a real college experience, I would definitely recommend that school-leavers come to Queen Alexandra, it’s the best place to go. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better sixth form college in the North East than Queen Alexandra. I really enjoyed my maths course – I can’t recommend the maths programmes highly enough.”

Eduard Boldi
Headshot of Daniel Blacklock

Daniel Blacklock, 18, from North Shields, will study maths at Newcastle University after gaining A* in maths and physics, A in Further Maths and B in chemistry He said:

“I’ve always had an aptitude for maths, so I was expecting to do well, it’s good to know that I have. All things considered, and with learning adapting due to Covid, I’ve really enjoyed my A level studies. I’m not sure about the career path I’ll take, but I do plan to do a Masters and then a PhD at university. Taking my A levels at Queen Alexandra has put me in exactly the right position to take my next steps in learning. Despite Covid, my courses were all very good and helped me to get the grades I needed. I doubt very much I’d have had such a good learning experience at a school sixth form as I did at Queen Alexandra. The teaching team at Queen Alexandra treat you as an adult, and it’s nice to be treated that way.”

Daniel Blacklock
Headshot of Alex Marshall

Alex Marshall. 18, from North Shields, is studying a degree in Computer Science Technology at Newcastle University after gaining an A in physics, B in maths and Further Maths, and B in chemistry. He said:

“Coming to Queen Alexandra was everything I’d heard it would be. I had the freedom to set about the course in my own way and had all the help I needed from my lecturers, whenever needed. The support I received from my lecturers kept me pretty much stress-free when it came to getting my course results, I was confident I’d done well. Although we had to work around Covid, the learning I received was very good and was everything I hoped it would be. I got the grades I needed, which proves the teaching matched all my expectations. I would absolutely recommend Queen Alexandra to anyone trying to find the right place to sit their A levels. I’m about to start my degree – if you put the effort in, Queen Alexandra will give you all the support you need.”

Alex Marshall
Headshot of Lauren Hallewell

Lauren Hallewell, 18, from North Shields, is starting a law degree at Lancaster University, after gaining A* in law and business and A in sociology. She said:

“I’m very happy with my results – I surprised myself at just how well I did. I have a place at Lancaster University to study law which is the next step to the career I want. Even though Covid meant I couldn’t always get into the classroom, there was also lots of help available and the online lessons were very good. The lecturers at Queen Alexandra gave me so much support, they were always on hand when I needed them, even on evenings. Just because many lessons were online and there were no exams, there was still pressure, but the lecturers were a great support. My lecturers constantly pushed me to do as well as I possibly could, all year round.

Lauren Hallewell
Headshot of Saad Bakir

Saad Bakir, 17, from Percy Main, gained A in physics, chemistry and biology and B in maths at AS level. He said:

“I’ve done well in my first year but I’m determined to do better in Year 2 – I want four A*. I’ll have to work hard to get the grades I want, but I’m confident my lecturers will help me to get them. The lecturers at Queen Alexandra are very good, they gave me a huge amount of support in my AS level first year. Despite Covid, I was able to get about four months of the course in the classroom, which was great and has inspired me further. I’m really looking forward to my second and final year of A levels – I can’t wait to get started.”

Saad Bakir
Headshot of Lucy Stephenson

“When I was first looking where to go next after my GCSE’s, QA was always my top choice because of their facilities, variety of courses they offered as well as the results and feedback from previous students. I found out about the Art & Design BTEC at an open event and I knew from then it was the route for me. The BTEC focused on the 3 subjects I needed and wanted to study in the future, while still achieving a qualification that is equivalent to A Levels without the exams. I personally struggle with exams, so it was the perfect option for me and relieved so much stress. I ended up getting a D*D* in my first year, and D*D*D* in my second, which secured me a place at my dream university in London studying Graphic Branding & Identity towards a career in Marketing. BTEC course allowed me to be free with my own ideas and has boosted my skills and independence. I would definitely recommend looking into all A Level and BTEC courses QA has to offer. The staff are very supportive throughout your time at college and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the college experience – even throughout the pandemic!”

Lucy Stephenson

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