Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Bertie scores top marks in his GCSE, at the age of 91

Bangor man Bertie Smyth had little knowledge of Italian before he started the GCSE course. He was held as a prisoner of war in Italy.

A 91-year-old Co Down man has been celebrating after being awarded the top A* grade in a GCSE Italian exam.

Bertie Smyth, from Bangor, received news of his achievement last week after two years of part time study at the Bangor campus of South Eastern Regional College.

Mr Smyth was the oldest student in the class whilst the youngest, who is 18, also received an A*.

The retired school principal had a little knowledge of Italian before taking up the course he’d been interested in since his time as a prisoner of war in Italy.

I’m really delighted with my result. I plan to continue with my studies

He was befriended by an Italian family just north of Rome when he managed to escape from the camp and has kept in touch ever since.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: “I am really delighted with my result. I had a wonderful tutor who really deserves all the credit.

“I really enjoyed studying with such a sociable group of people and plan to continue with my studies from home.”

Eleanor Ross, director of teaching and learning at South Eastern Regional College, said: “On behalf of the college I would like to congratulate Bertie and his fellow students on receiving excellent examination results for the GCSE Italian course.

“For 93% of the class to achieve A* and A grades is exceptional and testament to the hard work and dedication of themselves and their lecturer Tessa Barrett.”

Students across Northern Ireland who received their GCSE results last week performed better than pupils from last year.

There was an increase in the percentage of overall entries achieving the top A* grade, rising from 8.2% to 8.9%, and entries gaining grades A*-C have increased by 2.1% to 74.5%. Once again students here performed better than in England and Wales.

Last week it emerged that the Northern Ireland A-level pass rate had increased for the 26th year in a row.

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