Engineering star Declan scoops top national award for his approach to learning through lockdowns

A Lancashire lad has scooped a national education award for his hard work and determination, despite the struggles of lockdown.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 12:30 pm

Declan Rigby, a former Walton-le-Dale High School pupil, was recognised at Pearson’s BTEC Awards 2021, which was held online last night. The 17-year old picked up the bronze award in the BTEC Engineering Learner of the year category.

Declan’s Blackburn College tutor, Chidi Umeaku, originally suggested him for an award due to his mature attitude to learning and for how well he had managed the switches between classroom and home-learning over the past year.

Declan said: “I’m really pleased to be recognised in the awards. I really enjoy the Blackburn College course because I want to become an Engineer when I am older. This course is making it easier to see the different paths I could take for my future career.”

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Declan Rigby

He added: “I feel I go the extra mile because in my spare time I often watch videos on topics that I am struggling with to gain a better understanding – this is something I have started doing using my own initiative and online information sources and digital resources have become vitally important throughout the national COVID-19 lockdown periods.”

Declan will return to Blackburn College in September to complete the second year of his Engineering Extended Diploma before progressing to university.

Dr Fazal Dad, principal of Blackburn College said: “Throughout his studies he has shown great determination but also throughout the lockdown period he has worked incredibly hard – always engaging with his online lessons, regularly producing extra work but also gaining practical Engineering skills. Well done Declan".

What are Btechs?

A Btec is a practical-based, vocational qualification. It can be studied at a college or school.

Btecs provide the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a field or subject, and are a viable alternative to the more theory-focused, classroom-based ways of learning.

Btecs are becoming a more popular path to both university and particular jobs in place of, or in addition to, A-levels. In 2017, over 25 per cent of students starting university held at least one Btec.