Dedicated students whose exam results secured Sunderland’s Academy 360 its best ever GCSE performance, returned to school to be rewarded for their hard work.
Dozens of former Year 12 students were given trophies, certificates and inscribed pens for their exam achievements, subject excellence and for their attitude to work and learning.
Leading UK motivational speaker Richard McCann praised their achievements while explaining to students in an audience of family and friends how he has overcome tragedy and adversity in his life to accomplish his goals.
Richard was invited to speak at the celebration event and with academy pupils during the school day to tell them how the power of positive thought can help people achieve what they want in life.
Deputy Principal Lynsey Wilkinson said: “Students were dedicated, focused and committed; we have seen a 22% increase over the past two years in our A* to C grade GCSE pass rate.
“Those results are attributable to the hard work of our students who took every opportunity provided to improve their chances of success.”
The prize winners on the night are now all in further education or employment and returned to Academy 360 to receive their rewards, meet their old teachers and watch a specially compiled video slideshow of their school lives together.
Richard praised students for their application to their work. He left school before taking any exams and by his mid 20s was serving a one-year jail sentence for possession with intent to supply controlled drugs.
“I didn’t take my exams which is why I’m so thrilled to be at Academy 360 to congratulate these students, because they have done what I didn’t do because I walked away from school,” he said.
“I left school, I didn’t return for my exams and got myself a very menial job ironing trousers.”
A troubled, tragic home life was at the core of Richard’s difficulties in his teens and early 20s. He told the audience how at the age of just five his life was shattered when his mother Wilma McCann was murdered, the first victim of Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper and now serving a life sentence for killing 13 women.
Richard took hold of his life after leaving prison, wrote a best selling book about his experiences and launched the hugely successful motivational speaking and presentation skills enhancement business ‘iCAN’.