Spotlight on GC Alumna Cerys Jones

Greenhead College Alumna Cerys Jones studied Sociology at Durham University, where she founded the 93% club, a student-led initiative to help state-school educated students go on to study at the top universities. 

We put Cerys on the spot to find out more..

When did you come to Greenhead College and what did you study?

I was at Greenhead College from 2014-2016. I studied Modern History, Sociology, and Law.

What support did you receive whilst at Greenhead?

I received incredible academic support whilst at Greenhead! I personally did not need to access internal counselling services whilst at Greenhead, but I can say that the academic support was of an exceptional standard. Without the vital support of staff at GHC I would not have believed in my own abilities and studied at Durham University.

Can you tell us about the 93% club, what it is and why you set it up?

Durham University, the same as Oxbridge and other elite institutions like Bristol, have a reputation for attracting privately educated students, and that is because they do! Arriving at Durham, I found myself suffering from imposter syndrome: constantly regarding myself as incapable of being at a top university. However, I was not the only student struggling with this aspect of Durham. 93% of students in the UK are state-educated, however, Durham’s recent academic intake had only a 63% composition of state-educated students (of which those educated at Comprehensive schools is not even disclosed). Therefore, myself and Fran Walker discovered the 93% Club at Bristol University. As such, we decided to bring our own sister society to Durham which promoted access and inclusivity of state-educated students at elite institutions.

Alongside my selected executive committee, I sought to engage with university faculty to amend university policy in order to better include state students. The 93% Club aims to help current students navigate university life and find employment after graduation. With CV advice, LinkedIn profile workshops, panel talks and more, the 93% Club aims to equip state educated students with the same skills as those who are privately educated.

What advice would you give to students from state schools who are aspiring to study at a top university?

You are just as good as your privately educated counterparts, if not better. Coming from a state school is something to be proud of, and something that you should wear as a badge of honor at top universities. Oxbridge, Durham, and other Russell Group universities do have lots of ‘posh’ students, but you are just as intelligent as them, and as such, your place at that university is just as valid. If you ever feel as though you ‘do not belong’, just remind yourself that there are thousands of other state school students who feel the same. Even if your university does not have a 93% Club, contact the society at either Bristol, Durham, or UCL and any members of the committee would be happy to help – whether personally or professionally.

Now you have graduated, what are your plans for the future, and how does the 93% club fit into this?

After graduating with a BA in Sociology from Durham, I was supposed to be undertaking a Masters in Law this September (2019). However, having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder whilst at University, I have decided to take some time away from education and instead undertake some administration work in the local area. In the future – maybe next year – I will consider doing my Masters part time. In regards to the 93% Club, I will always be a part of the 93%. State-school pride is something I will always have, and with the 93% Club being such an intrinsic part of my university experience, I don’t think I will ever be able to leave it behind. I hope to be able to travel to various state schools and inspire other state-educated students to go to top universities, whether that be by providing insight about Durham as an institution, or by being a mentor for those who aspire to attend Durham. I want all state-educated students to understand that they are just as capable as their privately educated peers.

For more information on Cerys and the 93% club, please visit

Greenhead College launches new initiative for life beyond the lecture theatre

Greenhead College has launched a new initiative for the forthcoming academic year – designed to prepare young people for adulthood.

Once per month, inspiring Yorkshire professionals from a range of backgrounds and professions – including a racing driver, soldier-turned-CEO and life coach – will deliver a series of seminars, set to highlight crucial life skills.

Reflecting the diverse student population – and with something that appeals to all – the monthly talks are intended to further strengthen Greenhead’s commitment to delivering a rounded learning experience, for ages 16 – 18.

The first event will kick off this Thursday 12 September with Daniel Northcott, founder of Access North, coming into College to talk about his experience with Project Management. Other confirmed names include Tim Mercer, CEO at Vapour Cloud as well as owner of PiP To Grow Strong, Natasha McCreesh, while other notable speakers include founder of Benchmark Marketing, Margaret Hartley, chartered financial advisor, Louise Woollard and Dr Shelley Harrington, a lecturer in organisational behaviour.

Subjects covered will include managing finances, setting up a business, presentation skills and project management. As a result, it is here that A1 and A2 students will leave each session feeling inspired, energised and confident about life after college.

The programme is being driven by college alumni and governor, Katie Mallinson, who has built a successful career as the founder and MD of award-winning firm, Scriba PR.

Katie explained:

“It’s important for young people to leave college with a solid education, but Greenhead is also passionate about equipping young people with the life-skills they need for life after studies. Those who are preparing for further education, considering the path they want their careers to follow, and/or getting ready to leave home for the first time will need off-syllabus support.

“When developing the programme, I thought about what I wish I’d known more about at 17 – or at least had on my radar. With one seminar per month, the topics will rarely be academic, instead looking to equip the listeners with knowledge which they can take with them when they progress beyond Greenhead.”

Simon Lett, principal of Greenhead College, added:

“Ofsted is increasingly looking at colleges to provide a more holistic educational experience – which goes far beyond the four walls of the classroom. We’re sure that, given some of the confirmed speakers, uptake will be high!”

Each month, up to three leaders in their field will present for half an hour and participate in an interactive Q&A. Afterwards, there will be one-on-one time, enabling students to field any extra burning questions in a more closed setting.

Welcome to Greenhead: Principal’s September 2019 newsletter

A warm welcome to Greenhead College to all our new and returning students, and their parents and carers. I hope everyone has an excellent start to the autumn term.

The beginning of the academic year is always extremely busy and this online newsletter aims to highlight a few key events, opportunities and sources of information to look out for.

College information

Could I remind all students to check their emails on a daily basis to ensure they are up-to-date with key messages concerning life in College.  Students will find it useful to refer to their student planner which contains a wealth of information, including the term dates for the year.  There is also a parents’ information section on our website providing information on topics such as term dates, the College day, exams, financial matters, and progress monitoring. 


One of Greenhead College’s major strengths is the exciting range of extra-curricular activities available to students.  This is a reminder to all our new first year students that enrichment sampling week and enrolment starts this week, with activities commencing on Monday, 16 September.  I would encourage all students to sign up to as many enrichment activities as possible.  Not only are they fun and enjoyable to do but they will allow you to stand out from other candidates when applying for employment or to university in the future.

Heritage Open Day event

Greenhead College is proud to be hosting a free event on Thursday, 19 September at 5.00pm as part of Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture. Open to everyone, this event will encompass a presentation and workshop by 17-year-old Emily Brierley, National Youth Ambassador for the Mindfulness in Schools project, and second-year student at the College.

In this session Emily will be talking about her experience of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, the ways in which she has changed her relationship with trauma and used mindfulness meditation to help her see the best in humanity after being exposed to the very worst. She will also explain how this life skill has helped to alleviate her own anxiety.

Additionally, Emily will be talking about people she has been able to help using the same tools that helped save her and how this work has led to her becoming the first National Youth Ambassador for MiSP (a national charity bringing mindfulness into education).  She will be giving a presentation on how mindfulness and meditation can benefit you directly by helping with physical issues as well as mental health.

Emily trained as a meditation teacher last year. Throughout this session you will also have the opportunity to be guided through some short meditations, so you can experience them for yourself. Emily will leave you with tips for moving forward and give you some tools that will hopefully help you in day-to-day life to tackle any problems you might be facing.

Parents’ information evening (first-year students)

We have an information evening for parents and carers of our new first year students on Tuesday, 24 September at 7.30pm.  The event will cover two main topics: firstly, how we fulfil students’ potential through high quality teaching and pastoral support and secondly, information about practical matters such as tutoring, enrichment and careers advice.  Please note that parking is limited on our main site.    

Latest examination results

2019 was another excellent year for A Level results: the overall pass rate was 99% (national average 97.5%), with 62.2% of grades at A*-B at A Level (national average 51.1%).  These were superb results, reflecting students’ high aspirations, hard work and commitment. Our former students will shortly be progressing to the next phase of their education and training, including degree courses at top-performing universities, higher-level apprenticeships and employment.  In particular, 33 students successfully progressed to Oxbridge universities, which is a staggering achievement. I would also like to thank parents and carers, and our magnificent staff for the steadfast support and guidance they gave our students.

Support available

Finally, could I emphasise to students and their parents and carers that support is always available.  Our staff, including teachers, personal tutors, the learning support and careers teams, College counsellors, and the senior team, are here to help with any matter of concern. Our doors are always open.   

Best wishes,

Simon Lett