GIFTED and talented students celebrated yesterday after they were rewarded with top GCSE results – including one who was told to stop revising by teachers and his mum.
Ethan Shepherd-Smart was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was six, a high-functioning condition on the autism spectrum.
A student at Haughton Academy, part of the Education Village, Darlington, he completed 8,000 revision pods in just seven weeks as he worked for 60 hours a week preparing for his exams.
His efforts earned him two 9s, an 8, three 7s and three 6s helping Haughton Academy secure record results and cementing its reputation in core subject areas including maths English and science.
Principal Jonathan Lumb was delighted with students’ performances. “We set our most able students some really aspirational targets and I am absolutely delighted that they have been rewarded for their hard work with some superb results.
“We have a record number of top grades – 7s, 8, and 9s. We really focussed on our top performers, worked all year to ensure they believed in their own abilities and it has really paid off with many now going on to study A Levels and with ambitions to go to university.”
Ethan, 16, of Darlington, said: “I was putting in a lot of work and my teachers urged me to stop and enjoy myself as well. My mum even knocked off the internet connection so I couldn’t revise any more.
“I am really pleased with the results and I would say to anyone else with autism not to be disheartened; just do your best. You cannot allow your autism to restrict you. If conditions aren’t right for me, I do struggle to concentrate, so I must also praise the school for all the support they gave me which allowed me to do so well.”
Ethan will now study A levels in computer science, graphic design and physics.
For avid National Geographic reader Danni Greenfield, her results will allow her to pursue her dream of travelling the world.
“I have read National Geographic since I was six and it has inspired me to find out about the world,” said the 16-year-old, who achieved three 9s, four 8s, a 7 and a 6 and plans to study media. “I have travelled around Asia and would love to go to China.”
Classmates Bethany Higgins and Chloe Hutchinson, both 16, of Darlington, also performed well gaining, respectively, three 9s, six 8s and a 7 and two 8s, five 7s and three 6s.
Bethany plans to study A Levels in biology, maths and either psychology or English. “I’m really pleased with the results and would love to work in the medical profession one day,” she said.
Chloe, who was last year’s head girl, will study A Levels in biology, psychology and sociology. She said: “I am so happy. I worked hard but didn’t expect my results to be this good.”