Studied: Economics, Computer Science, Applied Law, Physics
Progression: BA Economics, University of Sheffield (graduated with a 2.1). Now studying MA Economics, University of Sheffield
After overcoming years of adversity during his time at secondary school, Daniel came to Varndean College in 2016 after having been part home educated and part educated at Hove Park School. He initially studied A Levels in Computer Science, Physics and Maths, but after his first year dropped Maths and picked up A Level Economics instead. After originally wanting a career in Computer Science, thanks to the enthusiasm and inspiration given to him by his Economics tutors, Daniel discovered that this was where his real interest lay and decided he wanted to continue his studies in Economics instead.
Daniel says: "I am so thankful for the valuable time I spent at Varndean College; it was three years of my life which I hold very fond memories of. I owe a lot to my two Economics tutors, Alrik and Will, who gave me the inspiration to succeed and Jo, my Law tutor, who was an absolute joy to be taught by. I am proud to have achieved an A grade in my A Level Economics (only 1 mark off an A*) and have gone on to achieve a 2.1 in BA Economics at the University of Sheffield. I am now continuing on a MA degree in Economics at Sheffield, having been awarded a year's scholarship."
Studied: Biology, Chemistry, Physics A Levels + EPQ (2017-2019)
Progression: Medicine at St. George's College, University of London
Anya Says: "I chose to study at Varndean because of the strong Science department and the support offered for aspiring medicine applicants. I have always been interested in the sciences, so it was a natural progression for me to want to study medicine. I have enjoyed the diversity of teaching methods and the enthusiasm of the teaching staff in supporting us to succeed. I like the practical aspect of each of the sciences; the practicals are engaging and fun and support the theory. I have been on a Physics/Maths trip to CERN in Geneva, as well as the United Nations. I have also attended the Chemistry Conferences run by Varndean and Brighton University, taken part in two Chemistry analytical competitions run by the RSC, as well as the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. Outside of college, I was recently awarded a seven year scholarship by The Army, which entailed interviews, physical ability tests and cognitive assessments. The scholarship provides me with funding for my final year at Varndean and throughout my entire six years medical degree. After this I intend to train as a military doctor in The Army." Anya-Niamh in 2018 was the recipient of a seven year bursary from The Army to help fund her studies to become a doctor in the armed forces. Anya-Niamh was also recently the winner of Uptree’s ‘Young Scientist of the Year’ Future Talent Award.
Studied: Computer Science, Physics, Maths + AS Further Maths (2017-2019)
Progression: Gap Year, then Computer Science, University of Sussex
Jude Birch, who is currently studying Computer Science at the University of Sussex, took a year out to gain work experience before going on to university and was successful in being selected for a Programmer Intern with local computer games company Near Light in which he has helped to develop exciting new games.
Jude is no stranger to success, as in February 2018 was one of the winners in Google’s annual Code-In competition winning himself a trip for two people to San Francisco and Google’s Headquarters at Mountain View, California! An overall total of 3555 students from 78 countries took part in the competition. Later that year, Jude won The Argus's Youth in Action 'Innovator of the Year' award sponsored by the i360 and then in the summer of 2019 was one of only 11 UK finalists in the British Academy of Film and Television Awards' (BAFTA) nationwide competition to find the country’s best young game designers. Jude's submission in the ‘15-18 years Game Making’ category was a futuristic adventure game called 'Space Core' using Unity.
Jude says: “I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to have gained an internship and worked on developing games. I was able to learn so much from my boss and co-workers. At the University of Sussex I've been developing more games in my spare time and am planning to submit one game for a university game development contest. I've also been participating in more programming competitions within uni and also against other universities.”
Studied: International Baccalaureate Diploma (2017-2019)
Progression: Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE), King's College, London
Monica is currently studying Philosophy, Politics & Economics at King's College, London having come to Varndean College from Blatchington Mill School to study the International Baccalaureate Diploma. In the summer of 2018, she became runner up in the Politics, IR and Economics category of the New College of Humanities' essay writing competition, in which only 27 students were shortlisted out of 1,800 entries, and in 2019 gained a summer work experience placement working for and shadowing Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas.
Since leaving Varndean, Monica has continued to operate a Depop business which has subsequently led to her being hired by Sussex University to conduct a year-long research project. Her role has entailed researching the role of digital platforms in transforming youth employment opportunities in the UK where the report will be launched in Geneva by the International Organisation of Employers. She has also been elected Chair of the Renew Europe Group in a Model European Parliament, US delegate in a Model United Nations, as well as Minister of Finland in a KCL War Crisis simulation.
In 2020 Monica was also a winner in the NCS Democratic Voice competition, tackling youth loneliness during the pandemic, as well as volunteering for the 93% Club and Project Access that seek to tackle educational inequality in the UK.
Monica says: "The IB provides both breadth and depth into the disciplines offered and openly encourages individual thinking – the perfect stepping stone for university. I especially liked the idea of belonging to a cohort and I formed long-lasting connections as a result. I'd recommend taking a range of subjects to keep your options open: there is nothing more rewarding than cultivating an interdisciplinary mindset during your education. I also couldn’t emphasise more the importance of maintaining your mental health and wellbeing throughout your studies. After graduating from university I'm keen to enter the political sector, particularly in policy writing and implementation, hopefully as part of the Civil Service."
Studied: Biology, Chemistry & Early Modern History (2016-2018)
Progression: Veterinary Medicine & Science, University of Surrey
Jessica is currently studying Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey after having come to Varndean College from Longhill High School. Jessica has always wanted to be a vet and as part of her application to study Veterinary Medicine, she had to complete many work experience placements. This included 24 hr emergency veterinary hospital, lambing and volunteering at a rescue centre. Her favourite placement was the lambing and her fondest memory was bringing twin lambs into the world. Jessica has a keen interest in farm animal medicine and this is a field she would now ideally like to specialise in. She is at her happiest blumbling about a field, lambing an ewe or milking a cow!
Jessica says: "I knew that Varndean would be my college choice from my first visit in Year 10 and I can honestly say I made the right choice. The environment at the college is one that is very supportive, which is derived from both students and staff. The support I received was invaluable, especially with my application to a very competitive degree. The staff genuinely want you to do well. I loved my time at Varndean and I must say, being at 'vet school' now is a little surreal. Without the support of my tutors, I would not be where I am today and for this, I will always be grateful."
Studied: Philosophy, Spanish, English Literature (2016-2018)
Progression: Law (LLB), University of Surrey
Fiji studied Philosophy, Spanish and English Literature at Varndean College, but since taking up a Law degree at the University of Surrey, has fallen in love with the legal industry and Law as a subject. She has spent the first two years of her degree consistently seeking methods to increase her exposure to a career in law and has already spent several days in chamber alongside barristers going in and out of court, a week in the London office of the Financial Conduct Authority, and has been exploring the legal community alongside her studies. She has even created her own legal blog to inspire and help out aspiring solicitors.
Fiji was offered the opportunity to become an ambassador of FirstGens, a scheme which supports and elevates students who are the first in their family to attend university, which has inspired her to not only work hard but also to help out others when she can.
She is currently midway through her placement year working at a commercial and corporate law firm in Sussex and is looking forward to the final year of her degree. After she graduates in 2022, she plans to go to law school to complete her Master of Law degree and Legal Practice Course and then hopes to work her way through training to qualify as a commercial and corporate solicitor.
Fiji says: "I joined Varndean after a year of feeling entirely lost career-wise, but I attribute a lot of my subsequent success to the college and my teachers during my time there. I studied English Literature, Philosophy and Spanish and you'd be surprised at how directly transferable many of the skills I learned in these subjects are to Law. Years 12 and 13 are pivotal for your future. It is not to say that you must know exactly what you wish your career to be, but it is important to study somewhere that will offer you guidance and support. My time at Varndean felt like the large push I needed to increase my confidence and maturity and this allowed me to seamlessly go on to university and build a clearer picture of who I wanted to be. Following the incredibly daunting results day and university application process, my life has taken leaps and bounds in directions I never thought possible."
Studied: International Baccalaureate Diploma (2015-2017)
Progression: English, University of Cambridge
Caroline graduated from the University of Cambridge (2020), where she read English, and has just completed an MA in Medieval Studies at King’s College, London (2021). She studied the IB at Varndean with English Literature, Psychology, and Biology at Higher Level, and Maths Studies, Theatre, and German at Standard Level. Caroline chose the IB because she found the prospect of studying a wide range of subjects exciting, and had heard really good feedback about the programme, specifically its commitment to producing well-rounded, inquisitive learners. In September 2022, Caroline plans to begin her PhD at City, University of London, where she will work under the supervision of Dr Hetta Howes to investigate the political utility of Contemporary Medieval literature. She hopes to pursue a career in academia, in addition to advancing her writing career, and is currently in the process of publishing her own poetry. Her poem ‘Lessons’ was recently published in The Black Spring Press Group’s The Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-2021 anthology, and her work has featured in Versification Magazine, Aurelia Magazine, and Wild Court Literary Journal amongst others. She is also currently deputy poetry editor of The Mays Literary Anthology (2022).
Caroline says: "Studying the IB was without a doubt one of the best choices I've ever made. It is a demanding programme, but the teachers were excellent and so passionate about their subjects. I am constantly drawing on the things that I learnt, even as I move forward into my PhD (including the philosophical criticism investigated within the compulsory TOK component). The strong interdisciplinary basis of the programme has been a major inspiration for my own cross-disciplinary and multi-temporal PhD work, and I feel so grateful to have had such a well-rounded education at Varndean. Varndean College is a special place to study because the campus is spacious and peaceful, and you really do feel part of one supportive and caring community."
Wei Jing Pamela Ng
Studied: International Baccalaureate Diploma (2015-2017)
Progression: Law, University College London
Wei Jing is from Singapore and chose to study the IB because of the flexibility to choose a range of subjects as well as learning a European language. For one of her subjects, she chose Global Politics as she was fascinated with understanding wider global issues and discussing politics in the international landscape. Wei Jing has now graduated from UCL with a first class degree in Law and has successfully secured a training contract with a commercial law firm in London.
Wei Jing says: "I am very fortunate to have been able to achieve the aspirations I had set for myself a few years back. The journey has not been easy, very much like my time on the IB. I never had the innate ability to “think like a lawyer”. In fact, many of my closest friends and family discouraged me from reading law as I was not logical or analytical, but I insisted on my ways. Certainly, there were many stressful nights, often with my mind plagued with doubts and insecurities. But I committed to my studies and I was consistent with my efforts. Ultimately, I succeeded and walked away having overcome my own insecurities.
University can be a challenging experience for many but it was also a time in my life where I felt the greatest freedom to experiment and to dream. I could join any society I wanted, I met people from all around the world, I learnt from distinguished academics. Undoubtedly, entering a new phase in life can be intimidating. But I would highly encourage you to put yourself out there to experience life. I would challenge you to dream big and chase your goals. I believe with hard work, anything is possible.
Believe in yourself and you are halfway there already. Do not give up and keep your head high. If you struggle with finding a direction for life beyond university, make use of the resources your university provides. You can also talk to career counsellors, discuss plans with your friends, attend different career events. By exposing yourself to the wide array of opportunities and people out there, you will be able to narrow down your interests. With that said, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours!"
Studied: BTEC Diploma in Business Studies, BTEC Sub Diploma in Applied Law, + Young Enterprise Scheme (2014-2017)
Progression: Business & Management, University of Surrey
Alex was living and working in Lima, Peru where he was selected for a role at an Exploration Mining company (CORE TECH SA) as part of his university course Professional Training year (PTY). Since then he has completed his final year of University graduating with a 2.1 in Business Management BSC. In June 2021 he started an exciting new role at McLaren Automotive as Assistant Buyer for Powertrain Systems. Key responsibilities include managing the supplier base & procurement process and implementation / delivery of the sourcing strategy.
Alex says: "Overall my time at Varndean was a journey I'll never forget, Exceptional teaching created a fun and engaging classroom environment which inspired me to go on and achieve my goals. Through this I was able to forge close relationships and memories that I am sure will last a lifetime. I will always highly recommend Varndean College to any student looking to achieve academic excellence. My time at Varndean was one of a huge learning curve for me. I chose to study Law and Double Business, as it greatly complemented the Young Enterprise Scheme which I was involved with where we were successful in selling personalised hoodies and T.shirts for local businesses. A consistent thread to succeed amongst the team enabled us to go on and win prizes for Best Marketing and overall Second Best company award in what was a highly competitive process.Studying Business gave me a greater understanding of the subject and motivated me to develop my academic skills further at university. The marketing element was particularly interesting, enabling me to develop my presentation skills, analytical thinking, negotiating, planning and organising. These skills subsequently assisted me in event planning a charitable auction at the college in support of the Clock Tower Sanctuary project for homeless people. Studying Law enabled me to develop my logical thinking, research analysis and evaluation skills. I particularly enjoyed learning about Dispute Solving in the Legal System which strengthened by ability to present structured arguments."
Studied: Psychology, English Language, Anthropology (2015-2017)
Progression: Psychology with Counselling and Psychotherapy, Manchester Metropolitan University
Megan completed her BCs (Hons) Psychology with counselling and psychotherapy at Manchester Metropolitan University and then went on to complete her Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology at Birkbeck University. She is now looking to study for her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Canterbury University. Megan says that ‘I never thought in a million years I would go on to do doctoral training!’ She then hopes to become a consultant psychologist and hopefully go on to do neuro training. Megan is hoping that the work experience she has gained working with The Priory Group at their neuro-rehabilitation centre and at the Montefiore hospital gaining both medical and neuropsychological experience, since attaining her BCs (Hons) will help with that.
Megan says: "I really enjoyed my time at Varndean, not only do you get a first class education but you also get so much support from the teaching staff who consistently strive to help you achieve your best possible grade. I don't think I would be where I am today without the help and support from Varndean College."
Studied: A Level Chemistry, Maths, Early Modern History (2015-2017)
Progression: Marine Biology (with Study Abroad), University of Exeter
I graduated with a Bsc Marine Biology with study abroad from the University of Exeter with upper second class honours. I loved my time at University, it gave me more opportunities than I thought possible. Because of COVID I started to question my initial plan of completing a masters degree and decided, upon graduation, to discover and expand other skill sets. This has led me to the south of France, where I am currently living in Nice and attending a language school, studying French. Here, I love to sail and scuba dive in the Mediterranean, and climb and hike in the Alps. During lockdown, I also taught myself some basic coding languages and am developing those skills to build and maintain websites as a hobby, which I intend to turn into a business. I knew I loved to travel before university but during my degree I was provided with so much opportunity to see the world that I simply want to continue to do so. After completing my course in France I intend to continue to travel and to utilise my skill set to pursue a career within wild animal rescue services.
Britani says: "I loved Varndean as it was the true college experience I desired where you have more freedom of expression. I appreciated the understanding with the tutors and being treated more like a capable adult in control of your own education, compared to the stricter secondary school system. I would foremost advise students to select A Levels that they find fun and interesting, as you always achieve better in subjects you enjoy."
Studied: A Level Sociology, Psychology, BTEC Applied Biology (2015-2017)
Progression: Gap Years, then Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University
After leaving Varndean, Emily chose to take 2 gap years in which she spent her time working and travelling before taking up a BA (Hons) degree in Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University in September 2019. However, when Covid hit she decided to switch courses to Nursing as she wanted to help out during the Covid pandemic. She is currently in her second year studying Adult Nursing (BSc Hons) also at Manchester Metropolitan University. Emily has been on many placements so far as a student nurse, such as working in A&E and GP surgeries, across different hospital trusts in Greater Manchester. She is absolutely loving studying nursing and can’t wait to be qualified next year – she is currently looking into applying to work as an A&E nurse!
Emily says: "When I went to the Varndean Open Day I remember they said there was 'room to be you' which made me feel so welcome. I loved my time at Varndean as I made lifelong friends, had great teachers and gained valuable experience that helped shape where I am now. I found Sociology the most interesting and it was my teachers who inspired me to study it as a degree."
Studied: A Level English Literature, Classical Civilisation, Philosophy (2015-2017)
Progression: Employment as professional spoken word poet
Hazel left Varndean and went straight on to becoming a professional spoken word poet. She is still a poet now in 2022 but in addition she is also now writing editorials for her own magazine, runs and hosts live music events and open mics, produces and hosts a radio show, and made a short film last year that got selected for the London Short Film Festival.
Hazel is also an activist, a youth worker, and runs a community library project that she founded. She is currently on the BA Literature and Creative Writing degree course at Goldsmiths, University of London, after taking a few years out
Hazel says: "My experience at Varndean, particularly in the Classics and English Department, was highly enriched and motivating. The personal and committed touch my tutors brought to the learning environment at Varndean is absolutely the reason I now feel so equipped to flourish in the poetry community. My interest in literature was sustained only because it was so genuinely encouraged. I would like to especially commend Carole, Conor and Cathy for consistently going above and beyond for their students and for inspiring me to this day."
Studied: Law, Business Studies, Health & Social Care (2014-2017)
Progression: Childhood & Youth Studies, University of Sussex
Abbie chose her college subjects as she felt they offered a broad range of 'door openers' to careers. She has now gone on to graduate from University of Sussex with a BA in Childhood and Youth Studies and in October 2021 completed her Masters in Early Years Education with Early Years Teacher Status at Distinction level. Abbie is now working as a full time early years teacher with the hope of owning her own nursery.
Abbie says: "I really enjoyed studying at Varndean, all the teachers were amazing and I have now also encouraged my sister to study there and she loves it too! My tip is to learn as much as you can while you can because that's the one regret of a lot of people I know; not doing it whilst is was all in front of them and for free!"
Studied: Geography, Anthropology, Archaeology + EPQ (2015-2017)
Progression: Anthropology with Professional Development, Brunel University, London
Megan has now graduated from Brunel University with a 1st class BSc degree in Anthropology with professional development. She is currently studying for her Masters at Winchester University in Death, Religion and Culture.
Megan says: "I really enjoyed my time at Varndean. It helped me gain confidence, especially when it came to running the College's Feminist Society with friends."
Studied: Drama & Theatre Studies, Art, Psychology (2015-2017)
Progression: Employment in Acting Industry
After leaving Varndean in 2017, Alfie has been successful in securing several acting contracts in three feature films, two of which will feature on Netflix in 2020 and the other was 'Tolkien'that came out in 2019. Alongside his acting, Alfie uses his artistic skills by designing tatoos. He is currently applying for a place at drama school in London and hopes to further pursue his career in acting.
Alfie says: "Varndean was my 'home' for two years and it really meant a lot to me to be able to help the College recently as a careers evening at my previous school, Dorothy Stringer."
Studied: A Level Computer Science, Modern History, BTEC Sub Diploma in Computer Games Development + AS Maths (2015-2017)
Progression: Computer Science, London South Bank University
Michael is currently at London South Bank University continuing with his studies in Computer Science. After first completing a foundation year, he is now in his second year of undergraduate study and is currently working towards finding a placement for his final year. He has recently developed a society in Esports and has worked with a wide range of different people. Most recently, he attended the grand opening of the Adidas store in Oxford Street, meeting different people in the Esports industry, including internet personality Ninja. Michael chose to follow Computer Science as a degree due to his love of programming and finding new solutions to different problems.
Michael says: "My time at Varndean was a strange one! Initially I chose to do too much and picked subjects which were really not subjects I wanted to do. Consequently, in the first year I did not get the results I had hoped for and this taught me the importance of choosing your subjects intelligently. If it wasn't for the support of the staff at Varndean, I wouldn't have made it out of the hole I had made for myself. As well as this, I believe that Varndean also holds the friendliest A Level students in all of Sussex. The friends I made at Varndean are still some of my closest friends I hold dear. If you want a place that gives you the freedom to make mistakes and to grow from them and become who you're truly meant to be; with the friendliest staff and students to carry you through what might be the most important years of your life, then go to Varndean, you won't regret it."
Studied: A Level Sociology, English Language, Modern History (2015-2017)
Progression: Gap Year, followed by European Studies, University of Amsterdam
Because she was unsure about where and what she wanted to study after leaving college, Esme chose to take a Gap Year and whilst working in employment saved up to travel around South East Asia and India for four months. During that time, she acquired life skills, such as self-reliance, adaptability and budgeting, which helped her prepare for the challenges of academic study at university. She is currently a second year student at the University of Amsterdam, reading European Studies, an interdisciplinary course with modules on Law, Economics, History, Politics and Literature, whilst majoring in Eastern European History and Politics. She is also learning Dutch as part of her Bachelors, whilst working part-time in a fine dining restaurant.
In the future Esme would like to complete a Masters in International Relations, again in The Netherlands, hopefully to prepare her for work in a politically based think-tank such as the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM).
Esme says: "Picking subjects you like is paramount. Studying is so much more enjoyable when you are truly interested in what you are learning about. Also, challenge yourself - don't choose a course just because it sounds easy!"
Studied: A Level Maths, Further Maths, Physics + AS Philosophy (2015-2017)
Progression: BA Music Production, BIMM
Barney chose these subjects as originally he wanted to go on to study Physics at degree level. However, after acquiring a place to study Physics with Astronomy at the University of Surrey, he realised that the course and university life was not for him so he left and spent the next year working. He then recently applied to the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) in Brighton to study a BA in Music Production and is having a fantastic experience there. He now hopes to have a career in the music industry, ideally as a freelance recording/mixing engineer, or as an artist in his own right.
Barney says: "I have such fond memories of my time at Varndean College. My tutors were so genuine and supportive and I felt I was doing them proud with every step of the progress I made. There was so much support available and I'm glad I made good use of it. To students choosing their courses, it's a good idea to pick courses that will provide opportunities relevant to you, but it's more important that you'll actually enjoy studying those courses. Don't be afraid of making mistakes or asking for help - sometimes you have to fail to realise how good it feels to succeed."
Studied: A Level Sociology, Geography, Classical Civilisation + BTEC Computer Games Development + EPQ (2014-2017)
Progression: Gap Year, then Sociology at University of Brighton
Zaheerah chose to study Sociology and Geography because she has always enjoyed learning about the world, both socially and physically. Classical Civilisation gave her the opportunity to study some of her favourite pieces of literature and her decision to study Games Design was because she enjoyed graphic design and editing and because she took Media Studies at GCSE, the course seemed to be perfect fit.
Zaheerah is currently in her third and final year of university, after which she hopes to work in publishing, either in a creative or editorial position. In general, her career path is aimed at digital media and she already runs her own blog where she reviews books.
Zaheerah says: "My time at Varndean was extremely important to me. Initially I felt like a fish out of water and it was a very daunting period in my life. However, I'm grateful for the friends I soon made and the staff at Varndean for being so accommodating. I recommend to take your time when making your subject choices. The courses available are so diverse and interesting, but the staff there are always happy to advise."
Studied: Maths (with Mechanics), Physics, 3D Design (2015-2017)
Progression: Gap Year, then Design Engineering, Imperial College, London
Kerim chose Maths because of his great passion for the subject and his ability to understand it well. Whilst at Varndean, he joined the Maths Challenge and thereafter the Maths Olympiad. He also chose to study Physics as he believed it would be useful in his future career in engineering. 3D Design was his third subject because he loved making things. After leaving Varndean in 2017, he took a gap year for self discovery and to gain motivation to study at university and is now studying Design Engineering at Imperial College, London. In the future, Kerim hopes to be a designer, an engineer and an entrepreneur who can make a positive impact on the world. He has already founded a business called Sweren that aims to provide people with meaningful gifts to buy for their loved ones.
Kerim says: "Varndean is a great place for learning. My time there was probably one of my favourite periods in my life so far. I just felt motivated to study and give more than what was expected of me. I put this down the friendly environment where there is mutual respect between students and teachers. I was also struck by the inclusivity of the college. The Maths teachers were super cool and caring and having a good foundation with Maths helps a lot with engineering at university. Physics was one of the more challenging courses for me, but this really helped me push myself out of my comfort zone. 3D Design was one of my favourites courses I have taken in my entire life! The 3D classroom was a place where I felt so creative and free."
Studied: A Level Film Studies, Media Studies, Photography (2015-2017)
Progression: BA Digital Film Production, Ravensbourne University Design School, London
Fyodor is currently attending the Ravensbourne Design School in North Greenwich, where he is currently studying a BA degree in Digital Film Production. From a very young age he has known that a career in the camera department is where his ambition resided. Before starting university in Sept 2018, he took a gap year and spent time in New York modelling and now, alongside film school, has kick started his own corporate video company and has been undertaking work for a number of clients. His hope is to break into the corporate film industry, with an emphasis on fashion designers. His future career ambitions are first to follow a Masters degree, followed by a camera traineeship and hopefully working his way up to one day becoming a successful director of photography (DOP) in feature films.
Fyodor says: "Varndean certainly enabled me to be creative whilst retaining an admiration for the academic side of creative subjects. I made deep friendships there and cherish the memories very dearly. I'd certainly recommend Varndean to anyone looking to go into a creative industry, as well more academic ones."
Studied: Graphic Design, Modern History, English Literature (2015-2017)
Progression: BA Graphic Design, Nottingham Trent University
Molly always knew she wanted to work within the creative field hence her choice to study Graphic Design. She is now studying a BA in Graphic Design at Nottingham Trent University and hopes to go into graphics as a career. She has a great interest in curating and currently works with the university gallery.
Molly says: "My tutors at Varndean were wonderful and really helped me make my final decision to study Graphics further."
Studied: A Level Drama & Theatre Studies, English Literature, BTEC Sub Diploma in Performing Arts + AS Level Photography (2015-2017)
Progression: Gap Year, then Acting Foundation Degree at Guildford School of Acting
After college Ophelia wanted to take the career path to become an actor so she chose these subjects as they gave her a great balance of practical work and essay writing. English Literature gave her a strong focus on plays and Shakespeare. Drama & Theatre Studies was also quite essay based, whilst the BTEC in Performing Arts gave her the practical acting experience she needed, as well as the opportunity of performing at the Brighton Fringe which looked good on her CV. After leaving Varndean, Ophelia took a gap year in which she travelled around South East Asia. She then completed an Acting Foundation Course at Guildford School of Acting from 2018-2019 and is now continuing her acting career and has secured an agent. She has recently acted in the upcoming Disney film 'Cruella', a short film for Brighton Film School, and is currently auditioning for a three yer degree course at drama school.
Ophelia says: "Varndean was a wonderful place to study and I enjoyed all my A Level choices. My course subjects were both engaging and well taught and the staff were extremely supportive. I left with an A in Drama, a Dist* in Performing Arts, a B in English Literature and an A in AS Photography. I believe these results helped me get onto my Acting Foundation and show my dedication for my career choice."
Studied: English Language, Sociology, Creative Media Production + EPQ (2015-2017)
Progression: BA in Journalism, City University of London (2017-20) / MA in Diplomacy & Foreign Policy, City University London (2020-21) / Currently Editor in Chief for UK political media platform, Wolves of Westminster
Ted studied at Varndean between 2015-2017, during which time he was also a radio presenter and ward volunteer for Southlands Hospital Radio whilst also gaining work experience at local media company, David Andrews Media. He went on to study Journalism at City, University of London, where he graduated last year with a 2:1.
Whilst studying for his degree, Ted worked as a freelance journalist for many different organisations and platforms such as Tremr, The Backbencher, The Distiller and Wolves of Westminster. He was also a regular guest on local Latest TV News, where he got his first taste of being a political pundit, offering his opinion, analysis and predictions on the weeks' news. This led to a one-year internship for Frontline Club Charitable Trust where he assisted with the organisation of events and produced his own podcast with BBC Political Editor, Nick Robinson, which gained 1000+ listeners within the first week. Further freelance contracts followed working for Sky News on the 2019 General Election, C&S Earthquake, Politics Home, Rory for London, Comment Central, Global Vision UK, Reach plc and Blue Sky Digital Consultancy.
In 2020, Ted took up a Masters in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy with City University of London and has recently returned to work for UK political media platform Wolves of Westminster, this time being appointed as Editor in Chief.
Seb Hyland Ward
Studied: Sociology, Psychology, BTEC Sport (2015-2017)
Progression: Gap year, then BSc in Criminology, University of Bristol
After leaving Varndean, Seb took a gap year in which he went travelling around South East Asia, visiting Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. He then started a degree in Criminology at the University of Bristol where is about to graduate in 2021 and will then follow a Masters in Sociology at Bristol. Seb has always been interested in the workings of the human mind and behaviour and how these can be impacted by social and biological factors.
Seb says: "College was an important tool for me in helping understand the progression I wanted to take afterwards. My subjects helped a lot in developing my career interests and allowing me to take a subject further which I had always had a great interest in. I would definitely say enjoy and make the most of your time at college as the time goes by really quickly. Also, focus and stick to your goals. You don't have to necessarily know exactly where you want to go with life, which is ok, but just ensure you use the college and its staff to your benefit. I am now at Bristol, which is an amazing city to study in. The university itself has an incredible reputation and I have been very proud to be completing my studies here. I hope to eventually work in the criminal justice system."
Studied: BTEC Creative Media Production, A Level Photography + AS Maths & Digital Illustration (2014-2016)
Progression: Film Production, Southampton Solent University
After leaving Varndean, Bryony went to Solent University in Southampton to study Film Production (BA Hons) and is now in her third year making her graduate film. With the biggest budget film I’ve worked on (£10,000) she’s working as Casting Director, First Assistant Camera (1st AC), and Editor. Next year she’s staying to do a part-time Masters in Film!
Bryony says: "Varndean was new to me; it allowed me to become independent and really think about what I wanted to do in the future. I knew my career lied in the arts sector, but creative media production really allowed me to explore the different roles and responsibilities I could strive to achieve. Covering all bases of film and television, from live tv, to fiction and non-fiction films, it let me dabble in lots of areas and through that, I was able to understand what I wanted. My other creative subjects (photography and digital illustration) really pushed me to overcome obstacles and allowed me to experiment with my craft."
Studied: BTEC Creative Media Production, A Level English Language (2014-2016)
Progression: Brighton Film School
Luke is currently in his 2nd and final year at Brighton Film School, where he attended straight after leaving Varndean College. He mainly specialises in sound and composing, however there is some directing too. He has composed for a handful of short films as directed, a few music videos, documentaries, as well as short films. Afterwards, he plans to look for work in the industry mainly as a sound designer or work on music videos.
Studied: Creative Media Production, Art & 3D Design (2014-2016)
Progression: Film, Television & Digital Production, Royal Holloway, University of London
Josh is currently in his 3rd year at university. The degree he is following is essentially a film course, both practical and theory based. However outside this course, he has arguaby learnt even more though societies, such as the student TV station, RhubarbTV. He became enthusiastic about film and TV very early on, with opportunities to get hands on experience with cameras and visits to TV studios such as ITV Studios in London and the set of 'Good Morning Britain'. In his 2nd year he then gained an interest in RhubarbTV’s live productions and later became 'Head of Live Production', training other team members and producing their most elaborate productions; ranging from campus wide sporting events to studio based productions. Now in his 3rd year, he is Station Manager of RhubarbTV and constantly learning the workings of this mini student run TV station. In addition, RhubarbTV actively tries to bring in sixth form students through their outreach team in order to provide training.
Josh says: "None of this would have never happened if I hadn't decided to study Creative Media at Varndean, as I originally took the course as a bit of a fun on top of 3D Design and Fine Art, which were originally my two strong subjects. Varndean allowed me to be creative and try different things, even if not my strong point. I had little knowledge of the film and TV industry prior to studying Creative Media Production, but it truly showed me a new future for me after education"
Studied: CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Early Years and Education (2014-2016)
Progression: Bsc (Hons) Applied Criminology, Canterbury Christ Church University, MA Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Sussex
Corinne studied the Level 3 Diploma in Early Years and Education after coming to Varndean from another college.
Corinne says: *"My time at Varndean College, studying for my Level 3 in Early Years Education, prepared me so much for going to university and my academic career. I had already completed two years at another college finishing with grades I wasn’t happy with and I didn’t feel ready to go to university. I then came to Varndean where I spent two years balancing lessons in college with 1-2 days per week at placements, working on coursework and planning activities so that I could qualify as an Early Years Educator. I obtained good results and had so much support from my tutors, but when the time arrived to start thinking about university again, I decided to study for a degree in Criminology rather than continuing with Early years.
Four years on after leaving Varndean, I’ve now got my undergraduate degree, just a few weeks away from completing my Masters degree and been accepted to start my PhD. I have also been able to support myself financially by working in an Early Years setting as I have the Level 3 qualification. I am grateful that Varndean encouraged me to pursue my interests and provided support that was tailored to me."*
Studied: Health & Social Care, Psychology (2015-2016)
Progression: Employment as a care assistant and support worker
Sophie chose to leave Varndean College after just one year after securing employment in the care sector. She has since worked as a care assistant in a nursing home, a care/personal assistant for a sufferer of Cerebral Palsy, a support worker for people with learning disabilities, as well as a care assistant at a centre for people with brain injuries.
Sophie is currently working for a private supported living company where she supports two ladies who were born with learning disabilities and can find day to day tasks a struggle and need extra support and care to manage this. She has held this job for 4 years now and has never been happier with helping to support the ladies to live the best life they can. Sophie is also currently retaking her NVQ level 3 qualification, provided by her company to build up her portfolio and to enable her to apply for a higher post that may become available in the future.
Sophie says: "If you are thinking of going into health and social care, don't hesitate! There are so many paths to different sectors of any social groups, from care worker, social worker, occupational therapist etc. It is very rewarding to do this course to be able to view the world we live in from a different light from what we are used to."
Studied: A Level Photography, BTEC Creative Media Production + AS Film Studies (2014-2016)
Since leaving Varndean, where he made his first documentary, Caleb has worked on a range of projects in the field. In 2017, he produced 'Stories of Note', an online, monochromatic series, which gave people the opportunity to tell a story about something that had happened in their life. It went on to be nominated for Best British Series at Raindance. He also went on to document 'Team Santos' (three players from Brighton Table Tennis Club) as they prepared to represent their country at the European Down's Syndrome Championships. The resulting short film, 'Believe That', was screened across the country, including two sold-out nights at Brighton's iconic Duke of York's. Later on, Caleb co-founded production company, Kith and Kin Films, which aims to amplify important stories which are seldom heard and show that even the most unfamiliar communities are bound together by universal narratives and sources of meaning.
Caleb says: "I think the most valuable thing Varndean provided in my time there was the opportunity to try out different things. We worked on a whole range of areas and tried different things, and in the end we spent some time working on documentaries and I haven't stopped being interested in them since."
Studied: Biology, Chemistry, Maths & French + AS Modern History (2013- 2015)
Progression: Medicine, University College London
Natasha (or Tash as she is known to everybody!) graduated from University College London in 2021 after following a six-year degree in Medicine. She is now a fully-qualified junior doctor working at St. George’s Hospital, London and hopes to maybe specialise in paediatrics. She is a frequent visitor back at Varndean College since leaving in 2015, regularly assisting the Chemistry Department in giving valuable talks to our aspiring medical students about the university application process and what it is like to train as a doctor, as well as meeting with prospective students and parents at College open events.
Outside of her studies, Tash has volunteered extensively with a number of Girl Guides organisations for many years. She is currently a unit leader for Girl Guiding St Pancras for Rainbows (aged 5-7) and Guides (aged 10-14) and also an assistant commissioner, overseeing the units across Camden, London. In June 2021, she was the first person to be awarded the Guiding LaSER’s Diamond Award for exceptional members under the age of 30.
She is also a voice for those learners who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing and is passionate about accessibility for d/Deaf people in education and health. She has co-created online deaf awareness training for healthcare professionals and teachers. She was also a speaker at the recent UCL Education Conference in which she spoke about UCL’s Summer School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, an event which changed her life seven years ago.
Studied: A Level Film Studies & BTEC Creative Media Production (2013-2015)
Zak left Varndean and went straight into employment working as a builder, whilst at the same time working on his filmmaking portfolio by carrying out freelance work. In 2016 he landed his first full time filmmaking job with 'Dragonfly Productions', working with them for a couple of months until unfortunately they could no longer afford to keep him on. He then went back to freelancing whilst working as a builder again and in 2017 produced his own showreel which he sent out to numerous filmaking companies. In January 2018, after numerous emails and eventually gaining an interview, he was offered the position of Junior Filmmaker with 'The Progress Film Company', where he has now worked on some really exciting projects all over the country, including filming Graham Norton for publicity about his new book. The company also gave him the opportunity to work on a project of his choice with their backing, so has been working on his first ever conservation documentary and has even had my first shoot abroad in Frankfurt, Germany.
Zak says: "It was my Varndean tutor, Nik, who actually gave me the confidence not to pursue university and to start looking for work instead. She felt I had a good chance, as I had been teaching myself filmmaking from my early teens. I now hope to keep developing my skills as a filmmaker and start to focus in on what I am most suited for. The production of my first conservation documentary will be a great learning experience, as well as being a great creative outlet."
Studied: World Development, Sociology, English Language/Literature (2013-2015)
Progression: International Development & Geography, University of Chester
During her 2nd year at university, Verity completed a 5 week volunteering placement in Knysna, South Africa where she taught Maths and English in an underprivileged pre-school and in her final year visited the UN Headquarters in Geneva to attend various talks and workshops.
In May 2019, she will be taking part in the International Citizenship Service, heading off on a 12 week placement in Apata-Ajele, Nigeria with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). She'll be working on an education programme to improve the quality of education, as well as working on gender empowerment and health projects. Each project plays a hugely important role in the development of the Apata-Ajele community.
Studied: Graphic Design, 3D Design & Dance (2013-2015)
Progression: Art Foundation at Brighton Met, then Graphic Design for Digital Media, University of Brighton
Riannon attends the University of Brighton studying a BA in Graphic Design for Digital Media, Her art foundation teacher had noticed she paid a lot more attention to online platforms rather than physical ways of designing so suggested that course over the standard Graphic Design course.
She enjoys the course so much, having never previously considered going to university, and has found it the most rewarding experience. I got a 2:1 in her first year and a 1:1 in her second. She has also gained three years of customer service in jewellery from aged 16 and in 2017 secured a job as a print and design specialist. More recently she landed a job as a part-time Social Media expert at a dance studio. She hopes to work for a magazine or fashion/street culture environment in the future.
Rhiannon says: "Varndean was an amazing experience for me, I made loads of friends and was allowed to express myself in a way no other educational place had allowed before. I would say be yourself, try as hard as you can but always stick with what you want to do in the future."
Studied: International Baccalaureate Diploma (2013-2015)
Progression: English Literature, University of Sussex (graduated with a 2.1)
After graduating with a 2.1 in her BA (Hons) degree in English Literature, Kathryn is now studying for an MA in Creative & Critical Writing at the University of Sussex. Whilst studying for this, she is working part-time as an Admin Assistant at a local nursery, as well as taking part in various fundraising activities such as the London to Brighton and London to Paris bike rides. Later she is hoping to undertake a second degree in Biology through the Open University and ultimately would like to work in academia.
Studied: Sociology, English Language, Applied Law, (2013-2015)
Progression: Applied Psychology & Criminology, University of Brighton (graduated with a 2.1)
Danielle now works for Lewes District and Eastbourne Borough Council as a Benefits Caseworker. She plans to stay in this position for a few years and then apply to train to be a probation officer.
Danielle says: "I can't thank Varndean enough for all the support they gave me. All the staff were so supportive and I knew they had my best interests at heart. They were truly invested in their students being the best they could be. For any prospective student, I recommend choosing subjects you love and talking to the staff if you’re unsure what to pick. Law BTEC was a brand new course when I started and I sat down with staff and they really understood what I wanted. Don't just choose a college that your friends are attending, choose the one that makes you feel comfortable as you'll spend so much of your time there. I would recommend Varndean, they made me feel at home and fully supported. Massive thank you to Varndean for taking me in when I thought I had nowhere to go. Special shout out to Lee Gray, who teaches Sociology and Jo, who teaches Law; I couldn't have got to where I am today without their support!"
Studied: CACHE Diploma in Childcare and Education (2013-2015)
Progression: BA in Early Years Development and Learning, Norland College, Bath
Upon leaving Varndean, Katie gained a place at the prestigious Norland College in Bath and went on to gain a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development and Learning which is unique to Norland College. The three year course combined undergraduate degree level study with practical sessions and experience with children, enabling her to put theory into practice. Running alongside the degree, and for one year after leaving, you also work towards gaining the prestigious 'Norland Diploma' - otherwise known as the 'Norland Nanny' status.
At the end of of her three year's training at Norland College, Katie was proud to be awarded 'The Principal's Award' and is now currently completing her Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) year, being just 6 months away from gaining her Norland Nanny status! She is currently working in London with a family with two young boys and hopes to stay on in this position after she qualifies. Although one day she would eventually love to take over her mother's nursery!
Katie says: "I really enjoyed my time at Varndean and loved the course as it was very practical. It was an ideal stepping stone allowing me to follow my dreams of becoming a fully qualified Norland Nanny."
Studied: A Level Physics, Maths, Psychology (2013-2015)
Progression: CAE Oxford Aviation Academy University
After having trained at CAE Oxford Aviation Academy and acquiring a degree in Air Transport Management, Ben started training and flying for EasyJet in March 2019 and is currently finishing his training with the company. His future career plans involve staying at EasyJet and hopefully gaining captaincy!
Ben says: "Varndean has a brilliant Physics department, extremely helpful, willing to go out their way to help if you’re struggling on a particular subject. And an extremely passionate and involved Psychology department"
Studied: Physics, Maths & Computer Science + AS Chemistry (2013-2015)
Progression: Physics, University of Bristol (2.1)
Following his degree, Will stayed in Bristol as a postgraduate researcher and studied for his Masters where he completed a project which involved devising a new technique to measure the mechanical properties of cells in the blood for disease diagnosis, funded by cancer research UK. He is now working as a consultant and data analyst at a tech startup in the video gaming industry.
William says: "Studying at Varndean was such a rewarding experience for me, with excellent teachers who I'll always remember supporting me every step of the way."
Studied: A Level Modern History & BTEC Extended Diploma in Public Services (2013-2015)
Progression: Military Historian
Frankie chose not to go to university but instead followed his ambition to be a Military Historian. Whilst he may return to education to acquire a degree in History, he has instead spent his time since leaving college writing books.
His first book titled 'Fallen Giants: The Combat Debut of the T-35A Tank' was published in August 2017 and his second book 'T-34 Shock: The Soviet Legend in Pictures' was released in June 2021 and was the best selling military history book on amazon UK and US, and has since sold out in America twice.
His history work has extended to real world applications and in the summer of 2016, he was involved in the recovery of a World War Two tank, buried near Dorking, which was filmed for the History Channel and was also involved in two tank restoration projects.
In 2019 he started his own living history group, 'Krasniy Konverv' and now gives presentations on the Red Army in World War Two, life as a soldier and crewing a tank. Frankie is currently writing further books, and is still interested in going to university, either to study history or go into primary education.
Studied: A Level Economics & BTEC Diploma in Business Studies (2013-2015)
Upon leaving Varndean, Charlotte decided to move to Australia. It was always her dream to move there as she grew up and now she has permanent residency and has just applied for citizenship this year, 2021.
Over the past 3 years Charlotte has been lucky enough to explore working in different environments and industries and has discovered her love for helping people.
After working at H&R Block tax accountants for two years in admin and reception, they offered her the opportunity to take their income taxation course, this was an intense course qualifying her to complete Individual tax returns and business activity statements. She has recently just finished working the tax season (July-October in Australia) and has loved every minute of it. She gets to know her clients and help them with their tax returns. A dreaded task for most but Charlotte seems to make it bearable and quite a positive experience for most and she enjoys teaching people about the taxation system, especially since it’s a subject that not many people are educated on.
Charlotte believes that the business diploma she attained at Varndean was a great foundation to be able to get into this industry, and it’s always highly regarded when she goes to job interviews. She has recently been offered, and accepted, a job at a different accounting and financial planning firm. So she is looking forward to learning the financial planning side of things in the near future. Charlotte loves working in this industry.
In addition to all this, Charlotte is also considering studying a diploma or degree in counselling, as this is something else that interests her.
Charlotte says: "I am thankful for the hard work I put in during my time at college as it means that when the time is right I have the key to get my degree. My teacher Will who I had for both subjects was exceptional and went above and beyond to help me achieve my goals; he not only set us the work and marked it but had a real passion for his students succeeding and was so supportive from start to end. I walked away with full marks in my Business Diploma (which I never imagined in a million years) and there truly is no better feeling than results day and all the hard work paying off. After leaving Varndean I had made friends for life and my experience helped me to grow so much as a person. It gave me the confidence to move overseas alone. If I was to summarise my time at Varndean I’d say that the most valuable thing I learnt was that If you believe in yourself it is truly possible to achieve anything."
Studied: Biology, Chemistry, Maths & Economics (2013-2015)
Progression: Medicine, Bartholomews and The London School of Medicine & Dentistry
Labib has graduated from medical school at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and is now working as a junior doctor at the Royal Sussex County hospital. Currently his career aim is to pursue a career in surgery.
Labib says: "I would recommend students to dream big and believe in your capabilities, as hard work can get you anywhere you want! Also, listen to whatever John Luton (Head of Chemistry) has to say!"
Studied: Dance, Photography, Textiles, Dance Leadership Award (2013-2015)
Progression: Choreography & Dance, Winchester University
After Varndean Amelia studied choreography and dance at Winchester university, but due to health reasons she decided she would pursue a career in nursing or physiotherapy instead. Amelia joined Jemini Response as a support worker looking after autistic adults and has now been promoted to a senior key worker for an individual at one of their residences.
Amelia says: "Varndean was the best time of my life. I made so many amazing memories and recommend the College to anyone who wants to broaden their knowledge. There is so much support at Varndean; I loved the additional support team and the counselling team were there when I needed them. Varndean is such a welcoming college where I felt supported in every aspect."
Studied: Travel & Tourism, Art, Textiles & Spanish (2013-2015)
Progression: Fashion Buying and Brand Management, Ravensbourne University (graduated with a 1st)
Tamara graduated from Ravensbourne University in 2019. Whilst studying there she worked part-time at Harrods. She is now an Assistant Manager in marketing for Aspects Beauty, working closely with brands like Versace & Moschino.
Tamara says: "If you stay determined you can achieve anything you want to."
Studied: Psychology, Sociology, Media Studies + AS Film Studies & EPQ (2012-2014)
Progression: Television Production, Bournemouth University
Whilst at university, Abi did as much work experience as she could and then went straight into a job in television. She is now working as a Researcher for a TV company in London and works mainly developing TV shows and casting people to take part. Her work also entails carrying out editorial research. Abi hopes to become a TV Producer in the future, in particular producing documentaries.
Abi Says: "If you’re not sure about what courses to choose, it’s best to think about what you really enjoy and what you are good at."
Studied: Classical Civilisation, Drama & Theatre Studies, & Textiles + AS French & EPQ (2012-2014)
Progression: Theatre Production: Arts and Stage Management, University of Winchester
After Varndean, Ellie took a gap year and embarked upon a winter 5 month ski season as a Chalet Chef in the French Alps. This provided her with not only a break from education but also a chance to meet new people and gain independence. Following this, as well as working part-time, she undertook a 5 week interrailing trip around Europe. In 2015, she started a degree in Theatre Production, but soon realised university wasn't for her and, after much deliberation, left after completing just the first year. A challenging decision as she went against the tide of her peers.
A random application resulted in her landing a job as Cabin Crew for British Airways and following an intense 5 week training, she began flying around the world, serving people at 35,000ft. After a year, she then moved back to working as a Chalet Chef for the 2017/18 winter ski season.
Ellie is now currently working in London for an events company, where she started out as Events Coordinator and after just 4 months has been promoted to Marketing Coordinator. As part of this role, she gets to travel and she enjoys being part of an intimate team where her contributions are valued.
She is also training and fundraising for a cycle from London to Amsterdam in 2019 for a cause close to her heart.
Ellie says: "Although I didn't realise it at the time, all the varied jobs I've had have only added to my skills and experience, and contributed to me getting my current career. My employers saw it as a positive thing that I had achieved so much in a relative short space of time, had the courage to try new things and be an independent thinker. My future plans are now to own my own business, perhaps a ski company. I would recommend choosing the subjects you enjoy because you will thrive from doing so. When choosing what to continue to A Level, I didn't know whether to choose Textiles or French, as I knew French was the more academic option. But I'm so glad I chose Textiles because I enjoyed the chance to be creative and it showed when I gained a grade A. Never be afraid to try something new, even if you’re not sure it will suit you. You never know where it will lead."*
Studied: Law, History, Politics + AS Economics & EPQ (2012-2014)
Progression: History & Politics, University of Sussex, plus MA in Corruption & Governance
Ben is currently attempting to enter the rail industry (a personal goal which he hopes to combine with his education) as a signaller or similar.
Ben says: "My time at Varndean was invaluable, solidifying and honing my personal and educational skills from secondary school. The homely feel of the college was why I chose it as my first choice, and Varndean gave me a stable and friendly environment with excellent teaching and extra-curricular opportunities (trips, careers, library services etc). The EPQ was particularly useful as it introduced me to the level of writing required at university level and I used the referencing, presenting and evidence gathering skills gained from this qualification at university. This gave me a great advantage amongst my fellow students, especially during the first year."
Studied: Law, Psychology, English Language + AS Politics & Anthropology (2012-2014)
Progression: Law at University of Sussex
Sophie took a gap year to go travelling and during that time visited Thailand and New Zealand and then lived and worked in Australia for 8 months. After her gap year she studied Law at the University of Sussex and graduated in 2018. She has recently landed a job with Sussex Police and began her 15 weeks training in Spring 2019, after which she will be posted into the Brighton and Hove division to pursue her career as a Police Constable. She then plans to work her way up before hopefully becoming a Detective Constable.
Sophie says: "Enjoy your time at college as it allows you to figure out who you are and what path you want to take. Fully delve into all your subjects as you may be surprised which ones you end up pursuing in the long run."
Studied: International Baccalaureate Diploma (2012-2014)
Progression: Dentistry, University of Newcastle
Daniel is now in his sixth year studying Dentistry at Newcastle University and was recently named as the UK's top undergraduate dentist for clinical skills after winning The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Dentsply Sirona skills competition.
David says: "I chose Varndean College, predominantly because I was looking for something that would give me an edge in my dental school applications and I found that the extremely successful IB course could offer this. When it came to my application, the interviewers definitely took an interest in the IB, as its breadth indicated that I could handle a university workload. Varndean also runs a dedicated group for prospective medical, dental and veterinary students which I found to be invaluable in helping me through the university application process, offering practice interviews, talks from alumni and universities and advice tailored specifically to my application."
Studied: International Baccalaureate Diploma (2012-2014)
Progression: Digital Media, Vancouver Island University
Felicity went to Canada to study a BA in Digital Media. Over the years she's acquired a few academic scholarships and is set to graduate in April 2019 and then start a Masters of Community Planning in September 2019. Currently my future plans are to work in community planning, with a focus on building or improving small communities; making them more sustainable while meeting the needs of all members of the community regardless of their age, gender, income, or ethnic background.
Felicity says: "You don't have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life at this moment in time. I'm 23 and I still don't know what the future will hold. When it comes to your education, the key is to ensure you learn how to learn. This, more than anything else, will give you the tools to succeed regardless of what challenges or opportunities the world throws at you. Don’t be afraid to try new things, to meet new people, and explore outside of your comfort zone."
Studied: Psychology, English Language, History (2012-2014)
Progression: History, Sheffield University
Holly went on to study BA History at Sheffield University and graduated in 2018 with a 1st. She is now studying for a Masters in Arts Management and Heritage Studies at the University of Leeds and is also currently working part time as an administrator for the Yorkshire Cancer Research Centre for Innovation in Cancer Care and Treatment in Sheffield. Holly's career aim is now to work in the museum and heritage industry.
Holly says: "My advice for any student choosing their A Levels would be to pick what subjects you enjoy, not what subjects you feel you should be doing. There's always support and advice available when you need it and never be afraid to ask for help!"
Studied: English Language/ Literature, Politics, Law, Modern History (2012-2014)
Progression: BA English Literature (First-Class Honours), MA English (Distinction), University of Reading (2015-2019)
Jerome studied English Language & Literature, Modern History, Government & Politics, and Law at Varndean, with a view to continuing his study of Law to university, and entering the legal profession.
After a change in direction during his gap year, he instead went on to study BA English Literature at the University of Reading from 2015 to 2018, graduating with First-Class Honours and being awarded the Dr Jean Young Memorial Award. During his studies, he oversaw a number of arts projects at the University, including the publication of three editions of the annual Creative Arts Anthology. He subsequently completed an MA in English, also at Reading, for which he achieved a Distinction. Following the completion of his MA, Jerome secured a PhD offer to research dystopian fiction and depictions of children and childhood at the University of Manchester, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic and other changes in circumstances, these plans were postponed. He currently works in charity administration in Brighton.
Outside of his studies, Jerome has continued independent academic research; in addition to presenting at a number of conferences focused on literature, pedagogy, and psychoanalysis, his work was also featured in the collected text, Questioning Ayn Rand: Subjectivity, Political Economy, and The Arts (ed. Neil Cocks), published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2020, a text interrogating and deconstructing Rand from a left-wing critical perspective, with his chapter focusing on Rand's education writing in the 1960s and 70s, and how her philosophies influence modern-day education policy.
Jerome says: "Above anything else, make sure you choose subjects you enjoy. While there are other reasons to choose certain subjects – maybe to fit into what you want to study at University for example – if it's not something you actually enjoy working within, it makes it much harder to engage with any of the materials. It's your education, and being excited – even slightly! – about what you're working on can make all the difference to how you end up getting on!"
Studied: Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics (2012-2014) / Further Maths & Economics (2014-2016)
Progression: BSc Economics with Econometrics, University of Exeter (2016-19) / MSc Financial Mathematics, University of Warwick (2019-20) / Currently a Quantitative Trader at Susquehanna International Group
After leaving Varndean College in 2014, Robert studied for a further two additional A Levels and then went on to study Economics with Econometrics at the University of Exeter, during which time he was also Head of Finance for the university’s Business and Finance Society. He then went on to follow a Masters in Financial Mathematics at the University of Warwick.
He now works as a Quantitative trader in Dublin, Ireland where his job is to identify future trading opportunities regarding the prices of various financial instruments, with the goal of making more money than he loses! Quantitative trading consists of trading strategies based on quantitative analysis, which rely on mathematical computations and number crunching. It is a career which is both financially and intellectually rewarding.
Robert says: “I have overwhelmingly positive memories of my time at Varndean College. It was a time where I grew a lot as a person; rediscovered old friendships and made new ones. The teachers at Varndean were very consistently supportive and were instrumental in laying the intellectual groundwork which allowed me to succeed at university.”
Studied: A Level Physics, Maths, Politics + AS Economics (2009-2011)
Progression: Physics, University of Bristol (2012-15), Masters in Robotics, University of Sussex (2016-17), now working in New Product Innovation Dept at Dyson!
Oliver is currently working as a member of the robotics team in the New Product Innovation department at Dyson!
Upon leaving Varndean in 2011 he first took a gap year to undertake some work and travelling; then in 2012 took up a BSc undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Bristol, where he realised that taking A Level Further Maths might have proved more useful in preparation for a Physics degree than studying Politics. His final year project involved designing a robot capable of creating 3D maps of radiation levels in a nuclear power plant and it was at this time that he knew he was actually more interested in Robotics than he was Physics.
He graduated in 2015 and started applying for roles in engineering and robotics, but after having a few interviews and being told that his degree wasn't relevant enough, realised that the only option was to get more education. He therefore decided to enrol in a Masters in Robotics at the University of Sussex from 2016, whilst at the same time privately tutoring Maths and Physics in order to earn an income to cover his tuition fees and living costs. Then in 2017, a couple of months prior to him finishing his Masters, Oliver received a phone call from a recruiter at Dyson who had discovered his CV on CVLibrary.com! He went for an interview and landed his first role working for the giant production company. His role includes sketching new ideas, 3D design, programming and electronics. In his spare time, he now also has his own laser cutter and 3D printer and likes to design new products. He is currently working on a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for a floating lamp!
Oliver says: "I really enjoyed my time at Varndean College. I partly chose Varndean because I knew it had strong science and maths departments. My recommendation to current students looking to choose their A Levels would be not to stress too much about it, it's easy to feel like you're on a conveyor belt of school>college>university>career but you can always choose to take different higher education or training courses further down the road."