Queen Alexandra A Level student, Mark Bal, successfully scored silver in the British Biology Olympiad which is a national competition for 16-18 year olds and aims to engage students with an interest in biology by expanding learning of the subject. After winning a Silver Award at the British Biology Olympiad, Mark Bal has since been invited to attend the awards ceremony for the British Biology Olympiad gold, silver and bronze medallists on the 2nd July 2015 at the Royal Institution, London.

The competition is one of great notoriety for the sciences and participation is nationwide - a record number of 6,189 students from 582 schools and colleges took part in the British Biology Olympiad. Students must complete two hour long online exams made up of multiple questions. This is the first time Mark has entered such a competition and his committed preparation is proven in the successful outcome: “Biology is subject I have grown up with, my mum is a biologist. From an early age I’ve had a fascination with plants and enjoy my lessons. The science teachers at Queen Alex Sixth Form have been really supportive throughout and encouraged me to just go for it - I’m really pleased with silver but next year I’m going to go for gold!” Former John Spence pupil, Mark was only two points away from gold and is considering applying for the natural sciences course at university, to lead into a biology degree of some kind, possibly with a focus in plant science.”

Mark’s Biology Teacher at Queen Alex, Lucy Galley, said: “Mark is a very deserving winner; he’s a very hard working student and has a deep interest in biology. The British Biology Olympiad is very competitive and the calibre of students is very high. It’s excellent to see STEM-related subjects explored in-depth - the competition extends beyond A Level. This is an exceptional achievement for Mark – alongside the award, involvement in the Olympiad competition helps to enhance university applications and CVs for students who compete.”

Mark will be attending the prestigious awards ceremony in London: “It’s an honour to be invited to attend, I’m really excited and proud, it’s a black tie event and I will be taking my mum - she’s very proud.”

Jon Vincent, Principal and Chief Executive at TyneMet College said: “Everyone at Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College is extremely proud of Mark’s achievement. To receive a silver medal in this highly prestigious competition when only in his first year of A Level biology is truly remarkable. I know that Mark has the ambition to read biology at university and this award will make him standout as a young person with great potential and commitment.  Mark will have the opportunity to re-enter the competition next year and we are hoping that a gold medal will be in his sights.”