A Syrian refugee who only started her GCSE courses last year with no knowledge of English has overcome the language barrier to achieve a string of top results.

Driven by her desire to become a doctor, Haneen Al-ghazawi gained the highest 9 grade in philosophy, theology and ethics and Arabic, as well as grade 8 in mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics at Bede Academy, in Blyth.

She has just returned from a medicine summer school at Cambridge University and will join the Bede Academy Sixth Form to study A Levels in physics, chemistry, biology and maths in order to follow her dream.

“During the exams I only got four or five hours sleep a night so it was a lot of work. I loved Cambridge, it was just great and I really want to go there to study medicine,” she said.

Haneen, 17, left Syria in 2012 with her mother Maha and younger brother Anas to escape the war that started where they lived. Her father had died and the family spent six years in Jordan before moving to Blyth.

Haneen was recognised with the Bede Academy Outstanding Academic Achievement at the end of last term and was described as “a fine role model for young students” after she supported other Syrian students in their transition to school life in the UK.

“I have been in that place and I know how life is for them so I have tried to help. My mother was not allowed to work in Jordan, it is very expensive there and university places for medicine are kept for Jordanians so we couldn’t stay. We are happy in the UK,” said Haneen.

Mrs Al-ghazawi added: “She likes to learn and she has a very good opportunity here to become a doctor.”

Principal Andrew Thelwell said: “The dedication and tenacity demonstrated by Haneen has resulted in exceptional achievement. She has made a great impact on the lives of students here and we are delighted she is staying on in our Sixth Form.”

Many students at Bede Academy, in Blyth, reaped the rewards of their hard work, as this year’s GCSE results were revealed.

Top student Ellis Hall, 16, who also attended the Cambridge University summer school, achieved eight grade 9s in English language, literature, biology, chemistry, physics, history, philosophy, theology and ethics and German and 8s in maths and French.

On an emotional morning, he said: “After my exams I really didn’t know how they had gone. I’ve been very nervous. I’m glad it’s over and I can look forward to sixth form.”

His mum Kelly added: “He just didn’t stop working. He was up until midnight then revising again at 5am. The knowledge was there but it was just sheer panic to make sure he’d done enough. I’m very proud of him, but then I’m proud of him every day.”

Lauren Gannie also achieved grade 9s in English literature and language, history and philosophy, theology and ethics.

“It’s been really scary waiting for the results. I started revising at Christmas and I expected to do OK but I’ve done better than I thought I would, especially in maths,” she said.

Lauren, who plays netball and hockey for the academy and local clubs, plans to study English and history A Levels at Bede.

Sporty Alice Holman, who has also done the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the National Citizen Service, works in the school uniform shop and is about to start another weekend job at St James’s Park, achieved top grades including three grade 9s, two 8s and two 7s.

“I just knuckled down and tried my best. I’ve been at Bede since Year 2 and the teachers have always been dedicated and pushed me to get the best I could,” said Alice, who will start A Levels in history, English literature and philosophy, theology and ethics at Bede with a view to reading law at university.

Creative students celebrated success as 100 per cent of those who took music and 96 per cent of students who studied art achieved a grade 4 or higher.

Mr Thelwell added: “Congratulations to our students for their results this year, they reflect a lot of hard work and support from students, staff and parents. At Bede Academy we value hard work as students strive to achieve their personal best as well as the development of the character of every young person in our care.

“We want the very best for all of our students and we look forward to hearing their success stories as they move on to post-16 courses, go to college or into apprenticeships and work. It is good to see so many wanting to come back and continue studying in our Sixth Form and we look forward to welcoming them back in September into Year 12.”