Pensioner, 92, becomes one of the oldest people to sit a GCSE exam

·3 min read
Derek Skipper, 92, has just completed his math gcse. (SWNS)
Derek Skipper, 92, has just completed his maths GCSE. (SWNS)

A 92-year-old man has become one of the oldest people to sit a GCSE exam.

Derek Skipper sat his maths paper at Comberton Village College near Cambridge alongside a gym full of 16-year-olds.

The married father-of-two needed a magnifying glass to be able to read the paper because of his poor eyesight.

Derek said he is hoping to be awarded a level four or five when he gets his results in August, but added the mark didn’t really matter as he signed up to challenge himself.

The pensioner, from Orwell, Cambridgeshire, said: “We have a friend whose 19 now and she couldn’t get her head round maths and failed GCSE three times. I couldn’t help her, so I decided to try to beat her.

“I thought it couldn’t be that difficult and it’s kept me occupied.”

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Derek sat his exam at Comberton Village College near Cambridge. (SWNS)
Derek sat his exam at Comberton Village College near Cambridge. (SWNS)

Derek, a former radar engineer during the Korean War, used YouTube for the first time to complete the course, run by The Cam Academy Trust.

He added: “I’m obviously a bit slower and I found that I switched off at times. My brain just stopped working for a minute or two.

“I did run out of time, but I had a go at most of the questions, except the ones I thought looked complicated which I’d have gone back to if I’d had time.

Derek had five hours of tuition a week over two sessions delivered by Zoom before taking the exam.

He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot about using a calculator. I think I found it easier than a lot of other people on the course.

“But there were still lots of things I’d either completely forgotten or we didn’t learn like Venn diagrams, data collection, frequency tables and mean, mode and range – we just did averages which I understand – and leaf and stem."

Course tutor Shane Day added: “Derek was great, the best student in the class. He’s the first 92-year-old I’ve taught, the previous oldest was 74.”

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Derek predicts a level four or five when he gets his results back in August. (SWNS)
Derek predicts a level four or five when he gets his results back in August. (SWNS)

When he was young, Derek cycled three miles a day through bombed-out East London to school.

He missed only one day during World War Two – when a bomb blew his front door on to his bicycle wheel and left him with a puncture.

Derek earned five School Certificates - the precursor to O Levels and the equivalent to GCSEs - including Maths which was gained with the help of a slide rule and book of tables.

And after leaving school, he signed up for the RAF at 18 to learn a trade and became a radar fitter.

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