Despite achieving the top grades in biology, chemistry and mathematics at The King’s Academy, in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, Holly must delay her dream to study medicine because she is too young to go to university.
Instead she is heading to Mexico for five months to do charity work.
Holly grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and arrived on Teesside in January 2015 as her dad Ralph joined Wilton as a chemical engineer.
Former head of sixth form at The King’s Academy Sally Gray said: “Although she was only 15 then, Holly had done her GCSEs so we started her on her AS levels in Year 12 to see how she did. She only had four months to complete them but she just aced it. We had no concerns about her doing A levels ahead of time.”
“It was meant to be a practice year and I knew I could re-sit the exams if I didn’t do well. I’m so happy and really pleased with my results,” said Holly, who was home schooled in South Africa.
She taught herself nine GCSE subjects from text books, taking most of her exams at the British Council exam centre, aged just 13.
“It was a huge amount of hard graft but I really enjoy studying. It’s been really good at The King’s Academy and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was a lot of hard work to get it done but definitely worth it,” said Holly, whose mum Lesley teaches art in care homes.
Now Holly, who lives in Coulby Newham, is looking forward to celebrating her 17th birthday tomorrow.
Staff and students at The King’s Academy, in Coulby Newham, are celebrating their best ever A level results.
Outstanding individual stories of success are supported by overall results that saw 90 per cent of all grades being at C or better, the highest rate the academy has achieved in 11 years of A levels and up 12 per cent on last year.
The proportion of A*-B grades, at 61 per cent, was the second highest percentage to date with 14 students achieving the ‘premium’ grade combination of at least ABB.
The success was across rigorous, academic qualifications with 100 per cent of grades being at C or better in 13 different subjects. Two thirds of maths students achieved at least a grade B, with similar performances in biology and chemistry.
Eighty-four per cent of students have achieved their first choice university offer grades.
Principal David Dawes, who was appointed last September, said: “I’m really delighted with these results and congratulate all the students and staff who have worked tremendously hard to achieve them.
“There have been changes at The King’s this year and it reflects on the strength of the team we have here that the students have performed so well in our Sixth Form. We have outstanding facilities and some exceptional teachers and these results prove that we’re taking tremendous steps forward.”
The academy also achieved its highest ever points score per student with performances, on average, two grades higher per student this year.
A level textiles is a speciality of the Academy and all six students achieved at least a B with two gaining A*s.
All six fine art students achieved at least a C with half gaining an A or A*.
Other individual success stories:
Talented scientist Shiv Patel, who gained an A* in maths, As in biology and chemistry and a B in physics;
Gifted artist Sarah Leatherland, who achieved an A* in textiles, and As in fine art and psychology and wants to pursue a career in fashion marketing and communication at Northumbria University;
Artistic linguist Rachael Clarkson, who gained As in fine art, French and German and will now read French and German and Leeds University with a view to a career in translations interpretation. Rachael, 17, of Coulby Newham, said: “I was expecting three Bs because my exams were such hard work. I didn’t sleep at all last night but to get these results has made it all worth it.”
Head girl Chelsea Reidy and Ethan Hardie, who both achieved three As in government and politics, religious studies and history. Ethan, 18, of Hemlington, will be the first member of his family to go to university when he heads to Leeds to read law next month. “At first I was quite confident but I got more and more nervous about the results,” he said.
Chelsea, 18, of Marton Manor, is going to Leeds University to study international relations. Accompanying her to collect her results, her dad Mark revealed what it is like to be an A level parent: “It’s very, very stressful for the students and they have to spend hours in their bedroom studying. All you can do as a parent is be there so they know they aren’t alone.”
Tom Henry gained an A* in geography, an A in maths and a C in physics. The 19-year-old, of Coulby Newham, stayed in the sixth form for an extra year after losing his dad Christopher to bowel cancer. “I lost my motivation in Year 13 the first time so I worked a lot harder this year, knowing it was my final opportunity. It was a bit easier this year because I’d been through the process already,” said Tom, who will now read geography at university. “I’ve always been bothered by climate change and geography is my passion so I’m over the moon to have got an A*.”
Year 10 student Daniela Cebotari has studied and passed both her AS and A level in Russian at Grade A in just one year. Daniela lived in Russia until she was eight years old and regularly translates for the children from Belarus, affected by radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, who visit the academy each year.