A YOUNG mum from Marford who became the only teenager in Wales to gain a coveted qualification while attending a special unit has received the certificate from a government minister.

In August 18-year-old Charlotte Blackwell gained the Welsh Baccalaureate while attending the Cyfle centre for schoolgirl mothers in Wrexham.

She studied for the qualification – along with six GCSEs – while looking after her son Caleb who was born the previous November.

On Thursday, during a visit to Cyfle, which is based at the Abenbury Community Centre in Pentre Maelor, Wales Education Minister Leighton Andrews presented the baccalaureate certificate to Charlotte watched by Caleb.

Mr Andrews, who also had engagements at Glyndwr University and Yale College, was then given a guided tour of the unit.

Charlotte discovered she was expecting a baby around the time she was due to leave school in 2008 so she signed on at Cyfle in September that year to continue her studies.

Thanks to the support of staff and her parents, Carol and Geoff, her education had little interruption.

Charlotte said: “Studying for the GCSEs and the Welsh Bacc took 12 months and it was very hard at times, especially the Bacc for which I had to learn Spanish.

“But I managed to do it because I had some really strong support from the unit and my parents.”

Leighton Andrews said: “I would like to congratulate Charlotte on her achievement.

“It is vital that young mothers understand the importance of continuing their
education, and Charlotte is an excellent example of what can be achieved with the right guidance and hard work.

“Cyfle received an exceptional Estyn report, which is testament to the quality of its services.

“The programmes on offer and the hard work of the staff are invaluable to these young mums at such a life-changing time in their lives.

“I am particularly pleased to see that the students are encouraged to reintegrate with mainstream schools. This supports the aims of the Welsh Assembly Government’s behaviour and attendance action plans and encourages young mums to continue experiencing a normal teenage life.”