STEM at Truro and Penwith College

Truro and Penwith College has worked tirelessly to become a national leader and outstanding provider of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

An incredible 51% of STEM  A Level and Extended Diploma provision is taught at Truro and Penwith College. And with each and every student benefitting from what Ofsted called “inspirational and highly-skilled teaching with exceptionally well-developed facilities” it is clear to see why so many of our students go on to achieve great things in the field of STEM. 

Everyone comes here because it is the best available. Everything has been great, particularly the lecturers.

Callum Eddy, now studying physics with astronomy at Durham University
Industry Bonds Under The Microscope

This provision is also one of the main reasons why we can give our students the best access to industry-leading organisations and people. We are hosts to the South West’s educational co-ordinator for the renowned Royal Society of Chemistry, we have Institute of Physics (IOP) Lead School status and we were selected as one of the first Maths Hubs in the country - helping to improve attainment, progress and participation in mathematics through high-quality teaching, learning and leadership. This unrivalled provision also attracts industry leaders looking to share their knowledge with our enthusiastic and well-supported students. Recent visits include the former leader of Experiments at CERN, now Director of Particle Therapy at the Cancer Research Institute and Oxford Professor Ken Peach, and the University of Cambridge’s Dr James Grimes, who both gave invaluable insights into how to excel in the field of STEM.

Exciting, Cutting-Edge, World-Class Research

This summer, our students completed postings with one of the most prestigious STEM schemes in the country. Much of the Truro and Penwith students’ work with Nuffield Research Placements is so cutting-edge that it is classified due to commercial sensitivities. Rachel Delourme, STEM Advisor, Nuffield and Sustainability Co-ordinator at the College, said it was an “opportunity for students to take part in exciting, cutting-edge, world-class research”. 

“It’s a massive achievement to complete this placement and is invaluable when applying to red brick universities and Oxbridge.”

Rachel Delourme, STEM Advisor, Nuffield

Truro and Penwith College International Baccalaureate student Jessica Wright from Scorrier was one of the five Truro and Penwith College students who achieved a Nuffield Research placement. As a member of the College’s Academic Academy, Jessica heard a presentation by Rachel and was intrigued at being able to boost her UCAS application for Cambridge University. Following a successful application for a placement, Jessica worked for four weeks for the University of Exeter. “The data is confidential, but I was looking at antibiotic resistance and measuring it in environmental risk assessments,” she reveals. 

To read more about Jessica's story click here

Meet the team leader:

Head of Science Dr Jon Grey explains what makes the College’s offering ‘Outstanding’ rather than ‘Good’…

Having outstanding specialist teachers who only deliver A Levels or Extended Diplomas is important. We have industry-standard facilities and technical support including 14 laboratories, electrophoresis equipment, mass spectrometry, flame photometry, gas chromatography, digital acquisition spectrometry and multi-sensor digital data capture units. This combination leads to us being 14% above the national average for A-Levels A*to B, and 73% of Extended Diploma students get Triple Distinctions and above, 24% better than the national average. 

Visits have included a trip to a Honduran rainforest and geology students heading to Mount Vesuvius on the Gulf of Naples. The results are outstanding and students have a very high progression rate to their first choice of universities. A large proportion of these end up at Russell Group institutions or Oxbridge.

“As one of the largest UK A Level science departments, we have outstanding lecturers working in industry-standard laboratories delivering incredible success”

Dr Jon Grey

From the course


Callum Eddy

Results: Biology A*, Physics A*, Mathematics A*, Chemistry A
Hometown: St Erth
Previous school: Hayle Community
University: Durham University to read Physics with Astronomy.

What interested you in astronomy?
Generally, it was science fiction; it sounds really clichéd, but Star Wars and Star Trek. It was mostly trying to prove the science; some things have become existent because of it, and I always thought that ‘if it doesn’t exist, will it or can it’, and can I get the knowledge to know how to progress that? I particularly like the idea of quantum teleportation and nuclear fusion.

Why did you choose the College?
I chose the College because it was the best local college available and it had renowned excellence. Everyone comes here because it is the best available. It lived up to my expectations and everything has been great, particularly the lecturers. It was hard work and I didn’t think I would get these grades, but if you don’t try you never get. I would advise new students to work hard, do everything on time and if in doubt, do more than you need to and keep reading.

What would you like to do for a career?
Further research or a career with NASA would be the greatest thing to achieve, that might be too high again, but you know, reach for the stars.

What have you enjoyed most?
All of it, nothing was not enjoyed! Reaching out, expanding knowledge and linking the sciences together for an improved understanding of everything possible.

Would you recommend the College?
Great times are to be had, fun experiences, lifetime memories and knowledge of the universe! 

Jimi Harrold

GRADES: Physics A*, Maths A*, Further Maths A*, Computing A, Chemistry B

HOMETOWN: Camborne last 10 years just moved to Truro.


UNIVERSITY: Nottingham University – Physics and Astrophysics

Why are you interested in physics? 

Ever since I was really young I have been fascinated by black holes. I would always buy books about them, learn as much as I could and devote my free time to learning about physics and black holes; it stemmed from there. I had a passion and a love for physics. It was the idea that something the size of a star could collapse down to something smaller than a full stop - that concept was so amazing to me, I was fascinated with how they worked. I was too young at the time to understand the mathematics behind it, but the idea captured my imagination.

Where would you like to work?

I want to go and work for NASA, I have been studying rocket science so I would like to pursue a career in the space industry.

Why did you choose Truro and Penwith College?

Mainly because of what you get to do. They have a lot of opportunities available and courses for everyone and they are so, so supportive, that’s the main thing. They were so supportive of me doing five A-Levels and said if I was comfortable doing it, they were comfortable with me doing it; it was a great feeling to have the College behind me.

What will you miss about the College?

I will miss the cheap doughnuts – 60p! That and the teachers - honestly the teachers. I have never had better, they are all so supportive. They are all such characters; they are great and all have a passion for their subject which is something you don’t see every day.

Josh Dray

Extended Diploma in Engineering and Electronics student, Josh Dray, built a prototype for a defibrillator delivery system. 

It was a desire to work on a project that could save lives that drove Josh to design the drone.

“I like drones anyway and looking at uses which they haven’t been used for where they would be useful to everyone,” he explains.

“Transferring emergency aid would be a good idea and using a drone seemed like a cost-effective way of doing things.”

Josh would like to go into research and development “so I get to work on the whole project rather than just a little section”, and work with Rolls Royce. Airbus is also tempting, while “the skunkworks team at Lockheed Martin would be a cool one”.

“The course has been very good. I love the college I think this course especially prepares you well for the industry, teaches how to meet deadlines, time management and the skills you will need in work life as well the knowledge and academic side of things.”

Josh is now attending Swansea University studying Aerospace but will continue developing his drone.