A sprightly pensioner has become the oldest person in Britain to ever sit a GCSE exam – at the grand age of 92.
Derek Skipper is hoping for a level four or five, the highest available on the free adult education course he completed, when he gets his results back in August.
But he said the result doesn’t matter that much as he’d signed up to challenge himself to sit a modern exam paper.
And he’s picked up more than just Maths skills after using YouTube for the first time to complete the course, run by The Cam Academy Trust.
Derek, a former radar engineer during the Korean War, sat his exam at Comberton Village College near Cambridge alongside a gym full of 16-year-olds.
The married father-of-two said: “I didn’t even notice they were there. I just had my head down and got on with it.
“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.
“Checking through was out of the question.
“It doesn’t matter two hoots about the result, but I’d like to get a 4 or 5.
“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.”
As a youngster, Derek cycled three miles a day through bombed out East London to school.
He missed only one day at school during World War Two – when a bomb blew his front door on to his bicycle wheel and left him with a puncture.
He 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.
But his 21st Century learning offered up to five hours tuition a week over two sessions a week delivered Zoom and an exam that allowed the use of a calculator.
Derek, of Orwell, Cambs., doesn’t drive any more due to poor eyesight and took his maths paper with the help of an NHS-supplied magnifying glass.
He added: “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.
“And I’ve been introduced to YouTube. You just want to know anything and YouTube’s your boy. I watched a lot of tutorials.
“I wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been on Zoom. I’d never have driven in on a dark night.”
Course tutor Shane Day said: “Derek was great, the best student in the class. He’s the first 92-year-old I’ve taught, the previous oldest was 74.”