As the dust settles on an extraordinary period of learning, Barnard Castle School students consider their school days and look forward to the future…

CARBON dot technology that can track the movement of molecules within cells has inspired a student to pursue medical research as he prepares to continue his studies at Cambridge University.

Barnard Castle School student Sam Carling secured his place to read a degree in natural sciences with a string of top grades and an innovative Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) researching carbon dot technology in medicine.

“It’s a new field of nanotechnology which I was introduced to by one of my chemistry teachers at Barney,” said Sam, who was offered an academic scholarship at Barnard Castle School when Wolsingham School closed its sixth form while he was in year 11 there.

“The dots, which are particles mainly made from carbon, glow under ultraviolet light, so you can use them to track the movement of other molecules in cells. At the moment, radioactive markers are used to do that, but unlike them, carbon dots don’t damage the cell. I think in the future they could be used in cancer research and it was a great project to be involved with.”

Sam, of Bishop Auckland, is planning to work in medical research after university, and he had high praise for his school which allowed him to take five A levels as well as his EPQ.

“I was really keen to take five A Levels and that was a major problem for a lot of sixth forms I visited, but Barney was with me from the start. It was a nightmare to put together my timetable, but the school bent over backwards to accommodate me,” said Sam. “Everyone has been incredible friendly and supportive.”

Sam founded the school’s Student Support Forum and personally tutored younger children in biology, chemistry and maths. He also plans to return to school in September to help students with their applications to Oxford and Cambridge.

“I’m so excited about going to Cambridge. It’s a beautiful city, where I can learn among like-minded people and I’m looking forward to challenging myself on a very broad-ranging course,” he said.

Head boy Bagi Ali sees a future helping to rebuild Sudan, the country of his family, ravaged by 30 years of military dictatorship and civil war.

Bishop Auckland-born to Sudanese parents, he is inspired by the plight of the country as he takes up a place at top university UCL to read economics.

“I still have family over there and I hope to go back to try and make a difference with what I have learned at Barney and am about to study at UCL,” he said. “We need to find ways to make the country sustainable rather than just receive charitable donations. I’m hoping to develop knowledge that will help find a better solution after developing my skills in a career of investment banking.”

He said he was excited at the prospect of going to London to study but would never forget his time at Barney. He said: “It was just a great experience with constant support which left you feeling you were never on your own. I was stunned to be chosen as head boy and loved mentoring others.”

For Barnard Run record holder and head of boarding Archie Hunt, of Richmond, sixth form life saw him secure top grades and have his first novel published.

More than 15,000 people have already downloaded his Amazon published title Snakes and Ladders while another 1,000 have bought the book, written as his EPQ.

The fictional title is set in America during the 1929 crash and depression as a lawyer becomes a scapegoat for a mid-West finance company extorting money from investors.

“Ten thousand words became 30,000 and it was approved by Amazon to become a novel,” said Archie, who believes the novel, written before school and over the holidays, helped him secure a prestigious place at UCL to study law.

“I absolutely loved Barney but am looking forward to going to UCL where there is also the opportunity to study for two years at Columbia University in New York and gain an American law degree as well.”

Esia Forsyth’s love of English and public speaking is pushing her in the direction of humanitarian charity work abroad.

The former head of Marwood girls’ house sees the analytical approach to academia as key in understanding human actions, many of which she has spoken out against during her time with the school’s lectern club.

A first team hockey player, helping the school reach the national finals, she plans to use the discipline and passion for sport in her future learning as she reads an English degree at Bristol University.

“I love the city, which is vibrant and great for festival and the music scene,” said Esia, of Cotherstone. “English literature has always been my favourite subject and I  like the analytical approach to human nature. The course also includes studying some of my favourite authors.

“I loved the whole Barney journey, right from when I started at Prep in year 4. It has been amazing, the trips, the sport and the house activities.”

Fellow hockey first team centre half and head of Bowes girls’ house Emma Gedye has witnessed the huge impact physiotherapy has in sport but now hopes to extend that to the full range of human ailments as she reads a degree in the subject at Liverpool University.

“I was lucky enough to escape any injury while playing and was originally looking at working in sport,” said Emma, of Barnard Castle. “But after some work experience in respiratory physiotherapy I realised that this was the subject for me.

“Being head of house has helped my leadership skills and confidence and made me think about the lives of others. I’m really looking forward to going to Liverpool because I believe physiotherapy can have an amazing effect on people’s lives.”

Faced with four boxes of spare parts there was only one thing to do for a budding motorsport race engineer – assemble them into a rare vintage motorbike and make it your EPQ.

For student Leon Blackburn rebuilding the classic 1929 Scott motorcycle did the trick as it helped secure him a place on the motorsport degree course run by the University of Derby, where guest lectures often include engineers from F1’s Red Bull Racing.

In its day the Scott was a cutting edge machine featuring a two-stroke twin cylinder engine and water cooling. Today only around 4,000 exist in the world and they are much-sort after by collectors.

“My dad runs the only company in the world to restore and rebuild Scotts and he just gave me four boxes of parts and let me get on with it,” said Leon, of Barnard Castle, who dreams one day of being a motorsport technician.

“I’m really excited to get into Derby and to be working on cars and bikes for the next four years.”

Motorsport is in Leon’s blood with his mother, father, aunties and uncles all competing in various formulae over the years His father Richard used to race against Jenson Button in Formula 4 and Leon himself has competed at karting against notable talent including McLaren driver Lando Norris and Williams F1 driver George Russell.

“My dream is to be a race engineer or mechanic in MotoGP, which I’ve loved since I was about five, for the Honda Race team.”

Headmaster Tony Jackson said: “We are extremely proud of all the Barney students receiving their results in the most unique circumstances before they take their next steps in this exciting stage of their lives.”