About

Alumni

We are currently trying to create a sustainable Alumni working alongside Future First, an education charity, by reconnecting with former students.  

If you are interested in being a part of this please follow the link below. 
https://networks.futurefirst.org.uk/former-student/penair


Lucy Williams- Physiotherapist

Lucy Williams- Physiotherapist

HELLO, my name is Lucy and I left Penair back in 2005. I am now a Physiotherapist, however when I was at school I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do as a career. Deciding which subjects to choose for my GCSEs was therefore a tough decision so I chose subjects that I enjoyed. When I left Penair with my 9 ½ GCSEs I went to Truro College to do A levels. I roughly knew by this point I wanted to work in the health care setting so knew I needed to study Biology, then just chose other subjects I found interesting. Then it came to applying to university. What was I going to do? I did some work experience at Treliske and thought I wanted to be a Radiographer. I went for various interviews and got a place at Cardiff University. However when I got my A level results I had a panic and realised I didn’t want to do this. After some stressful deliberation I decided I wanted to do Physiotherapy and contacted Cardiff University and asked to switch courses and to my surprise they said yes. After doing 3 years at Uni and various student placements I was in the wide world of searching for a job. I worked in Cardiff for 2 years and then moved back to Cornwall where I have now been working for almost 3 years.

I really love my job but would not have been able to get this far without having worked hard for my GCSEs. In order to get into the Physio course you need GCSEs C or above and 3 A levels or equivalent diploma with at least a B in Biology and As or Bs in 2 other subjects.

Therefore my key messages to you are:

  • Choose subjects you enjoy
  • Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do for a career, a lot of people feel like this- you’re not alone
  • Make sure you work hard and get your GCSEs so that you keep all your options open.

Sophie Hewings – Student Support Administrator

Sophie Hewings– Student Support Administrator

My experiences at Penair School as a student have stayed as clear in my mind as yesterday. When I left in 2005, I did not know that I would be back supporting other students who had been in the same place as me. I never really knew what I wanted to do within my career and Penair gave me opportunities to express this. My GCSE options of Child Development, Drama and Textiles allowed me to learn about various areas that I would like to branch out to within my future employment. Sophie from Penair School 

After I left Penair, I studied a BTEC Diploma in Care at Truro and Penwith College, before earning a BSc Hons in Social Sciences at Cornwall College. I have always been interested in working with other people and I feel working back at Penair with the students, I can relate to where they are at in their life’s. I have spent many of my working days in retail or behind the scenes as administration, but my role at Penair as Student Support Administrator has enabled me to work closer with the students, of which I have wanted to do for a long time.

Without my GCSE’s, I would not have been able to study the college course I wanted to, study my degree, and move into administration so comfortably as I have done. They gave me the confidence to know that I can do what I want, and more opportunities to study as an adult in more specialist areas such as an NVQ in Business Administration. GCSE’s are the foundation to my knowledge and it’s a privilege to be able to come back to the place that were the building blocks to my employment. During my time at Penair, I had constant encouragement and support from my teachers including after-school clubs to help improve my grades. Not only did they prepare me for my GCSE’s, but they gave me the skills and inspirations to be able to work with young people in my current role. It feels right that I am back where I belong – it was like coming back to my second home!


Julie Malla - Civil Servant

Julie Malla - Civil Servant

When I was choosing my GCSEs I was clueless as to what my future would hold. I always had an obsession with the legality and consequences of others actions, but I was unsure whether I had it in me to pursue such a career. Consequently as an avid pianist I chose music and in the hope to satisfy my taste buds, DT: Food.  I enjoyed every second of these modules  and in their own ways gave me the confidence that I desperately needed, be it playing the piano in school assemblies or creating a dish from scratch.

After passing my GCSEs I left for Truro College where I finally started to satisfy my legal interests. I studied Law, History: Conflict and Change, which focused on civil rights and the pivotal wars in history which shaped our economy, Psychology, to help me understand others behaviour, and Photography to feed my creativity. As it got closer to choosing universities, I realised how vital my past grades were in shaping my future. Each university has its own entry requirements which draw from your past qualifications and grades, and through the hard work I had put in throughout Penair and Truro College I got accepted into Reading University. Here I got to specialise in a subject I have been enticed by from a young age and I learnt so many skills, like court etiquette or how to apply law and acts of Parliament when drawing up a defence for a defendant.

Now I work as a Civil Servant for a Governmental body and have a lot to owe for the support I received throughout my education. Skills you learn from your GCSEs will stay with you forever, and help you understand different aspects of yourself. My biggest tip for you is choose a module which has adaptable skills and a subject that you would be happy and eager to learn more about with continued interest.


Elizabeth Gothard– PhD Student in Mathematical Biology

Elizabeth Gothard– PhD Student in Mathematical Biology

A key memory from my time at Penair is a progress meeting with my form tutor in year 11. I was completely adamant that I would study maths at university, despite his insistence that my interests would change over time. As it happens we were both right! I studied mathematics at the University of Southampton, where I became interested in applying maths to biological problems. I also realised that research was an exciting career prospect and so, after completing a masters degree, I applied to the Wellcome Trust PhD programme at the University of York. Although I’d planned to do a totally theoretical project, it was compulsory to spend the first term doing lab work. I got stuck in with some trepidation, but was pleasantly surprised to discover I really enjoyed it.

So, as predicted back at Penair, my interests have changed slightly: I’m now a hybrid mathematician and biologist, researching how wounds heal in mammalian skin. I spend my days doing experiments in the lab, developing mathematical models for the processes we observe, teaching undergraduates and attending conferences around the UK and overseas. Working hard at a broad range of GCSEs at Penair definitely helped me develop skills specific to my career, as well as teaching me how to adapt to new situations and challenges. I still enjoy the extracurricular activities that I first got involved in at school, and by continuing to participate in music and dance I’ve travelled all over Europe and made many new friends. My one piece of advice would be the same as my form tutor’s was back in 2006: your interests and skills might change. I never made it onto the Penair netball team, but last term my team at York won our league! So continue to try hard both academically and outside the classroom, and most importantly keep an open mind: you might find you have a hidden talent just waiting to appear.


Juliette Bristow– Studying Medicine and Dentistry

Juliette Bristow– Studying Medicine and Dentistry

I attended Penair from 2004-2009, and had a brilliant time there. After finishing school, I next attended Truro College for 2 years before moving to Exeter to study medicine at Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. I am currently back in Truro, studying my fourth year based in Treliske Hospital.

It was whilst I was at Penair that I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine and I think the school really helped me in achieving this goal. The staff were always supportive, providing career advice and helping me gain the GCSE results I knew that I needed. My best memories of Penair are probably from the many extracurricular opportunities they provided. Taking part in activities such as Duke of Edinburgh, mentoring schemes, foreign exchanges and school productions, were not only great ‘personal statement boosters’, but improved my confidence, communication and leadership skills, all of which I now require on a daily basis. As well as these skills, I feel lucky to have left Penair with fond memories and lasting friendships.

During this summer I am travelling out to Malawi to work for the World Medical Fund, a charity who provide healthcare to children in remote villages of sub-saharan Africa. Before I go, I am trying to raise funds for this inspiring charity and am doing so with a bake sale at Penair and a 50k hike. If anyone would be kind enough to sponsor me, you can do so at my just-giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Juliette-Bristow. Any donations would be hugely appreciated. Thank you!


Kate Stockmans– Undertaking SCITT course in the South West

Kate Stockmans– Undertaking SCITT course in the South West

‘If it wasn’t for Penair School I would not be where I am today.’ Is a sentence I have used frequently since my departure in 2008. As a student who often found school life and education as a whole challenging I would often find myself feeling unconfident in my ability as a scholar. On application for the GCSE modules, drama and product design in particular enabled me to develop my skills as an actress and subsequently became a gate way into further education. My drama teacher was one that always complemented my on stage ability and fuelled the belief in myself that I really could achieve anything I wanted to. This attitude influenced all aspects of school and enabled a determined and motivated character to emerge. I enrolled onto a National Diploma in performing arts and throughout the two year course flourished into a young woman who became extremely passionate about both dance and theatre. The next step was beyond my wildest dreams. I never thought that I would be stepping into the studio as part of a Foundation Dance Degree. My technical ability as a dancer heightened and when being given the opportunity to gain work experience within local schools I excelled. It was clear to me then that I wanted to help students who were perhaps in my position at school to influence them to follow their dreams. So when taking part in my third year BA Honors in Theatre I utilised a professional development project in which I could build my school based experience further in both dance and drama. On completion of my studies I was aware that I would have to retake mathematics if I wanted to pursue teaching as a career; so I partook in a GCSE maths course in which I gained my C grade a year later. I would recommend to any student to try their ultimate best to gain this during your time at school (despite the struggle) – it is a lot harder at the age of twenty-one. With my recent success’s I deemed it necessary to spread my wings and explore the world. So in October 2014 I flew to Uganda to work in a rural village school as an English teacher for two months. It was an invaluable experience that will stay with me forever and it was only a month back in the UK before I bought an around the world ticket and jetted off to South East Asia, New Zealand and Australia. During the month at home I applied and was successful in gaining an interview for a SCITT course in the South West in which I was offered a place. Now in July 2015 I am endeavoring to meet the necessary requirements to begin the course in September. Seven years after leaving school I am almost in the position that the person who inspired me was. Going back to my initial statement Penair really was where this all stemmed from. Just yesterday I finished my fifth year teaching dance on the schools annual Curriculum Enrichment Week. I feel overwhelmed that it is now I in the position to inspire and give these students the encouragement I received when I was at school. A few words of advice – ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone and success is what happens when you don’t give up.’


Bryony Lawrence– Gold Medal Rower

Bryony Lawrence– Gold Medal Rower

My time at Penair school was a happy one, I had many friends and enjoyed most aspects of school life.

I was the class captain and a school prefect in year 11 which I thoroughly enjoyed, however my time at Penair was also a challenging time for me as I am dyslexic and found most of the academic work difficult. I also had to accept that the epilepsy that I had suffered from at age 5 to 11yrs had returned when I was 14years old and so life when I was taking my GCSE’s was especially tough. However I decided to take positive steps to help relieve the stress and at aged 15years I took up rowing and joined Falmouth Greenback Rowing Club. It was great fun and a sport I really enjoyed so I decided to enter into the British Indoor Rowing Championships to get an awareness of what standard I would have to be at should I want to take this sport up on a serious level. I had very little experience of rowing on an ergo at this time but that didn’t deter me!

At the British Championships I gained 8th place overall in my very first competition! From that day forward I have been training and working to be the best I can be in this sport. I am also happy to say that I passed my GCSE’s. I left Penair School in July 2014 to follow my rowing dreams and was awarded a place at Hartpury College in their Rowing Academy, I also gained an academic place to study at FE level…

As a member of the Hartpury Rowing Squad I am required to train 12 sessions a week with most weekends being taken up in competitions or with extra sessions. I also attend lectures every day and spend most evenings after training studying and completing assignments. It is essential that you have excellent time management skills and are organised in all aspect of you student life. In my first year I have successfully competed for Hartpury College at high level competitions rowing either in the Single / Double sculls or in a Quad. In July this year I competed in the British Junior Rowing Championships and took the bronze medal in the Double Sculls. I was later selected to row for England as a Junior Women racing in the Junior Women’s Quad successfully taking the gold medal for my Country at a Home International Regatta hosted at Strathclyde in Scotland.

I have also achieved in my first year at Hartpury Collage a Triple Distinction* in my Sports Diploma.

I have not let my dyslexia or epilepsy stop me get in the way of my dreams, in a way all these challenges have only made me more determined to succeed. If you want something enough you have to work hard and get out there and make it happen!


Ryan Hocking– Physiotherapist for The Cornish Pirates Rugby Team

Ryan Hocking– Physiotherapist for The Cornish Pirates Rugby Team

Hi my name’s Ryan and I am currently working as one of the physiotherapists for The Cornish Pirates Rugby Team. I left Penair in 2003 with 7 GSCE’s ranging from B – C and 2 D’s, did I know I was going to be a physiotherapist someday? No. I knew I wanted to be involved in the health industry, but that’s it. I completed a BTEC National Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science at Truro College, at the end of this I still wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do for a career, I even contemplated being a skiing instructor. After college I completed a Foundation Degree in Sports Science and Injury Management at Truro College, topping it up to a degree in Health and Fitness with The University of Plymouth graduating in 2008.

At this point I went travelling, taking in the sights of Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Whilst travelling the first thought of physiotherapy came to light and after this amazing journey I saw my options as; pursuing a career in the Health and Fitness industry, Marine Biology or Physiotherapy. I chose to complete a masters in Physiotherapy at The University of Southampton. I’ve now been a physiotherapist for 2 and a half years and having worked in the NHS for 2 of those years I was lucky enough to secure a position with The Cornish Pirates.

Along with the advice given by others below, my advice would be;

  • Chose a career you are passionate about, not because you think it’s what others expect of you

  • Never give up, it’s possible to achieve anything you set your mind to

  • Travel, travelling taught me lessons and gave me experiences that you cannot learn in a classroom

Finally if you don’t achieve the goals you set yourself whilst at Penair, do not let this dampen your desire to achieve goals in the future. Anything is possible.


Justin Leigh- BBC spotlight presenter

I am very proud to be a former pupil of Penair. I am often asked where I went to school and I am quick to tell people about Penair. I have very fond memories of the school and the teachers. I feel very lucky to have lived close enough to the school to walk to it everyday and also feel very fortunate to have gone to a school which had such lovely grounds. The playing fields and cross country course gave us plenty of space to enjoy sports and recreation. Although I started at Penair more than thirty years ago, I always remember it being a very advanced, modern and well equipped school. The science labs, theatre space and language facilities certainly helped us to make the most of our education. Since leaving school I have been able to pursue a career in broadcasting, something I wanted to do from a very young age, and Penair played a big part in helping me achieve that.  


Guy Martin- Historical Photographer

I arrived at Penair School aged 11 3/4  a little scared, a little shy and with only 4 friends from my previous primary school. I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces, unfamiliar sounds and groups of people with whom I had never met – it was in essence different tribes.

One of the enduring qualities that I remember from Penair, was the fierce sense of independence and leadership that the school fostered in us. It’s hard to explain, you can’t really ‘teach it’ Rather you have a tremendous amount of ‘characters’ who you learn it from. Either from the pupils who are in the years above or by the way the teachers and staff spoke and interacted with you.

I think I knew I wanted to be a war photographer when I was 15. I’m often asked by people why I have chosen to pursue documentary photography; not least to get involved in the stories and issues that have been enveloping the Middle East for the past decade. Besides being head over heels for any sporting extra curricular activity that Penair could throw at me, it was while studying for my English and History GCSE, that opened my mind to the real stories of real people outside of the school gate.

Studying the complex narratives of American and Russian foreign policy at the end of the cold war, expertly and vividly told by Mr Brumby, opened my eyes to the journalists and visuals of the Vietnam war. Which in turn led me to discover the work of Don Mcullin. Terrifying, poignant, and courageous work. A messenger at the front lines of history. Or the studying of a novel (embarrassingly I’ve forgotten the name of it) but Mrs Donelley’s chosen book for study on the last days of the Junta in Chille, from the viewpoint of an under ground political activist, now reminds me of a famous David Burnet image from the period of a young man being arrested, his face perplexed behind a crowd of militia with guns and metal hats.

I’m now lucky or unlucky enough to have photographed 3 revolutions, the birth of a new nation, an attempted coup and two wars. I’ve spent time with world leaders, been on the road with rock bands and lived in 4 countries and regularly work with Time magazine, the New York Times, The Sunday Times and National Geographic. (I currently  live in Istanbul)

I know that in the midst of some of these extreme situations I’ve dealt with people exactly the same way that I learned to deal with them at Penair; to treat everybody with respect and to listen to their stories; to be human and to do my absolute best to represent them fairly. In todays polarised and often complex world, I like to think it was where I’m from and where I went to school that has shaped not only me but the photographs that I take. 


Tom Phipps- Olympic Sailor

My Name is Tom Phipps, and it feels like yesterday I walked out of the Penair School gates for the last time. It was in fact 11 years ago in 2005. Since then my life has taken me all over the place and I now have the privilege of being able to say I have 1st class Honours degree in Naval architecture and am part of the British Olympic Sailing squad, with the intention of representing GBR in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

 During my time at Penair school my Olympic aspirations were already in full swing, alongside studying at school much of my time needed to be spent training and competing on the youth sailing stage. This was not only happily facilitated by the great staff but also encouraged. There is no doubt that without this incredible support at a busy time in my academic life, I would not be where I am today.

 I left Penair with a raft of GCSEs and comfortably accessed all of the college courses I wanted to study, including Mathematics and Physics, but my eye was forever on achieving my sailing dream, and I decided to leave Truro College within the first year to begin my intensive training. The move to becoming a fulltime athlete was my departure from structured academic study but the beginning of a huge education in business and life skills. Nothing could have fully prepared me for the trials and tribulations of running an Olympic campaign, but based on the skills I have previously acquired through school the transition was just about manageable.

After my hopes to compete in the 2012 Olympics were crushed when Sailing’s governing ‘ISAF’ body decided to drop the catamaran class from the games, I eventually made the big decision to attend university. Having left college early I enrolled onto an engineering foundation course at Plymouth University. Following a year of intensive and specific training, I continued onto the full degree course. For a boy that never intended to study at a degree level I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the challenge and excelled in my classes. I left Plymouth university in 2012 with a 1st class degree and special acknowledgement for my final year project on aerodynamics of a sailing boat.

After I teamed up with my current crew Nikki Boniface only a year before the 2016 Olympic trials, we knew we had a mountain to climb in a short space of time. Nikki and worked relentlessly for a year, and with minimal exterior support we sawed our way up the fleet, only to finish in a close runner-up position in the trials. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and Nikki and I are now on the brink of the new 2020 Olympic cycle, we are more focused and driven than ever to make this one ours, and I really believe that 2020 will be our year.

Please have a look at www.tomphippsracing.co.uk for up to date news on how we are getting on.