RAF veteran Derek Skipper (Picture: Judy Czylok, Cam Academy Trust).
RAF veteran Derek Skipper (Picture: Judy Czylok, Cam Academy Trust).
Veterans

Top mark for RAF veteran, 92, in GCSE maths exam

RAF veteran Derek Skipper (Picture: Judy Czylok, Cam Academy Trust).
RAF veteran Derek Skipper (Picture: Judy Czylok, Cam Academy Trust).

School's out once again for an RAF veteran who has passed his GCSE maths exam with the highest possible mark – at the age of 92.

Thought to be the oldest person in the UK to sit a GCSE exam, Derek Skipper has added the grade five to his list of accolades, including a British Empire Medal from the Korean War, during which he served as a radar engineer.

Swotting up on a free adult education course via video call from his home in Orwell, Cambridgeshire, Mr Skipper rolled back the years to his wartime school days.

He was absent for only one day of school during the Second World War, with the excuse of a bike puncture when a bomb sent his front door flying into his wheel.

He studied twice a week with the aim of hitting a Level 4 or 5, the highest available on the foundation paper.

"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."

On the day of the exam, the hard-of-seeing pensioner used an NHS-supplied magnifying glass and his original 1946 slide rule to get over the line.

Joining him, of course, were hordes of teenagers sitting the same paper, although he said he "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."