Thursday, August 22, 2013
A pupil who fled war-torn Somalia aged five when her father was killed said she hoped to return one day as a doctor after scoring 11 straight As in her GCSEs.
Najma Ahmed, now 16, could not speak a word of English when she arrived with her mother Weliye Salah and grandmother Maryam Muse. Her father Ali had been shot dead in a car robbery two years before and the situation in the country led the family to decide to flee.
Najma, who lives in Hackney, said it was hard at first but today she achieved seven A* and four A grades. She will go on to study biology, chemistry, physics and history at A-level with a view to training as a doctor.
She said: “It just wasn’t safe in Somalia with the civil war. I was petrified all the time. There used to be days when I didn’t eat I was so scared. My father was killed and some other people around us. The killing just became normal. That’s not right.
“I have always wanted to be a doctor. I have always wanted to help people, especially my own people who don’t have access to adequate health care. Hopefully, I will be able to serve my country — just give back what I have been given.”
She was one of scores of high achievers at Clapton Girls’ Academy. Another, Catherine Byrne, from Dalston, got 11 A* grades.
The 16-year-old, who spent Year 8 studying in France, also found the time to become a black belt in Aikido. She said: “It’s amazing, absolutely amazing. I’m so excited. It was a lot of hard work, but worth it.”
Meanwhile, pupils at the newly rebuilt £80 million Holland Park School were celebrating straight As after fearing they had not done as well as hoped in science.
Students said the science exams were much harder than the practice papers they had done.
Ellie MacCarthy, 16, from Fulham, was awarded A*s in product design and English literature and As in statistics, business and sciences. That was on top of the subjects she took early in Years 9 and 10, getting A*s in geography, Spanish, RE and an A in maths.
She said: “I’m really excited, I wasn’t expecting to do so well, in science especially… I found the exams harder than the practice papers, especially science.”
Nearly half of pupils at the comprehensive did the English Baccalaureate, while 38 per cent of grades at the comprehensive were A* or A and 87 per cent of students got five GCSEs including maths and English.
Akesh Velappan, 16, was celebrating after getting six A*s and four As and he plans to study biology, chemistry, maths and geography at A-level. He said: “In science I thought some of the papers were more difficult but good preparation helped. I’m elated, really unbelievably happy.”
Sarah Batto, 16, from Ladbroke Grove, who got three A*s and six As, said: “I did better than I expected. I thought I was going to get a few Bs. Some science exams were hard, I thought I did so much worse.”
Headmaster Colin Hall said: “The children have met all our expectations and beyond. We are 25 per cent above what the government expectations would be of the school so we’re absolutely delighted.”
Source: Evening Standard