Over 7000 students across the country took part in the annual British Biology Olympiad, a national competition for 16-18 year olds which aims to engage students with an interest in biology by expanding the learning of the subject.

This year, Queen Alexandra A Level student, Mark Bal was in the top 6.6% of competitors, winning gold after successfully scoring silver in the 2015 British Biology Olympiad. Mark was only 2 points away from a gold last year and worked hard to score the prestigious gold title. 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.

Mark is expected to receive A*AA in his A Levels at Queen Alex and added: “I am absolutely thrilled to receive gold in the British Biology Olympiad. I was determined to do it after coming so close this year. I really feel what I’ve been learning in my studies and my previous experience of the competition helped me this year. I have been extremely busy with my studies and the competition was a great way to apply my learning at Queen Alex to something else.” Former John Spence pupil, Mark added: “Being part of the competition has been great fun., I’ve been very lucky to have had access to many opportunities whilst studying.

I’m also delighted to have been accepted to Oxbridge to study and hope to study the natural sciences course at university, to lead into a biology degree of some kind, possibly with a focus in plant science.” A Level student, Mason Banks, also did very well in the competition coming within the top 15% of participants and won a bronze medal. Mason said, “This is my first time entering the competition so naturally I was a little nervous but I felt confident in applying my studies in the competition, it was fun and challenging at the same time.” Mason is on track to study Chemistry at Durham University this September and looks forward to advancing his learning in the sciences.

Head of Queen Alexandra Sixth Form, Mr Lee Patterson said: “The British Biology Olympiad is very competitive and the calibre of students competing is also very high. It’s excellent to see STEM-related subjects being fully recognized, encouraging participation from across the UK.

This is an exceptional achievement for Mark, Mason and Queen Alex.” Jon Vincent, Principal and Chief Executive at TyneMet College said: “Mark and Mason have surpassed expectations and demonstrated how hard work, determination and ambition can go a long way. The British Biology Olympiad is a fantastic event which celebrates the brightest young minds. We are delighted with Mark and Masons’ achievements in the competition and wish them the best of luck for their futures at university and beyond.”

The Sixth Form College which currently boasts a 99.8% pass rate at A Level, offers the widest choice of A Levels in North Tyneside and a unique experience at A Level, with tailored one to one pastoral support, state-of-the-art facilities and a supportive yet independent environment that provides the perfect stepping stone to Higher Education or other successful career paths.