Student who spoke no English when she moved to Leeds dedicates results and paediatrician dream to father who died from COVID

An A level student who arrived in the UK speaking no English has dedicated her success at The Grammar School at Leeds to her father who died of COVID in Italy.

Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 4:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 4:59 pm

Miriam Solomon achieved an A* in Spanish and As in biology and chemistry, bringing her a step closer to her dream of becoming a paediatrician and returning to her native Eritrea to open a clinic in her father’s memory.

Miriam, whose father died in Italy in October, came to Leeds at the age of nine, speaking no English. She will now study medicine at Hull York Medical School with the help of an Academic Excellence Scholarship from her school, a scheme which was introduced this year to help students with the transition from school to university.

She said: “I have always wanted to work with children. There is something so energetic and optimistic about working with them and, ultimately, I want to go back to Eritrea and do this in my father’s name.”

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A Level results from Boston Spa Academy. Sixth form students Aidan Harris A* AA, Ciaran Connell 4 A*, Harry Botterill 3 A*, Rachael Haigh 3A*, Alex Williams 4 A*, Millie Thomson 3A*, Jacob Nicholson 3A* and Alfie Allanach 3A*

Miriam, who was head girl at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), arrived in Burmantofts with her mother, brother and sister, speaking her native Tigrinya language and Italian.

She admits her lack of English made it difficult at first to settle, however her aptitude for languages meant that within a few months she was able to get by and is also fluent in French and Spanish.

Picking up her results today, she added: "I’m thrilled. This year has been so difficult for many of us and to have achieved such great results, especially during these unprecedented times has really showed me how far resilience and hard work can go”

The school said that despite this not being the sixth form experience they envisaged, 58 per cent achieved three As or more, with 17 students gaining 4 A*s and a further 22 achieving at least three A*s.

Miriam Solomon from the Grammar School at Leeds.

Forty per cent were passes at A*, 72 per cent of grades were at A*and A and 88 per cent of grades were at A*-B

Principal Mrs Sue Woodroofe said: “This is not the sixth form experience that we envisaged for our students, but they have responded magnificently, moving seamlessly from in-person to online lessons. They have had to be adaptable, to learn in different ways and to cope with uncertainty – all of which they have done without losing sight of their sense of community and support for each other.

“This year has seen our young people grow in confidence and resilience as they have faced up to the challenges of the pandemic. This experience will stand them in good stead for the future. Their success is down to hard work and determination, supported by the versatility and commitment of our amazing teachers. I am in awe of them all.”

Seven students are heading to Oxbridge, celebrating a haul of 26 straight A*s to secure their places at colleges at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Celebrating getting to Oxbridge are back (L-R): Ayushman Nath, Jake Masters, and Tom Ingleby; front (L-R): James Hardy, Oliver Daniels and Ben Wheatcroft.

They are Oliver Daniels, from Tadcaster, with four A*s in biology, chemistry, maths and further maths; Tom Ingleby, from Alwoodley, with three A*s in French, Spanish and maths; James Hardy from Meanwood, with four A*s in history, economics, geography and religious studies; Jake Masters, from Scarcroft, with four A*s in physics, computing, maths and further maths; Ayushman Nath, from Killingbeck, with four A*s in chemistry, physics, maths and further maths; Mei Whattam, from Roundhay, with three A*s in history, Latin and Spanish; and Ben Wheatcroft, from Bardsey, with four A*s in biology, chemistry, physics and maths.

Three students who joined The Grammar School at Leeds for the sixth form as part of a partnership aimed at providing opportunities for young people from across the city, are also celebrating

Chamequa Rankine, from Seacroft, joined from Leeds East Academy, and swept the board with four A*s in chemistry, physics, maths and further maths. She will study mechanical engineering at Imperial College, London. Michael Wiciak, from Armley, who arrived in the UK six years ago from Poland, with very little English, celebrated an A* in economics and As in computing and maths, and will study computer science at Leeds University. Edith Brightwell, from Middleton, was delighted with her A* in sociology and As in psychology and biology and will study clinical psychology at Plymouth University. Both Edith and Michael joined GSAL from Mount St Mary’s School and are among the first recipients of an Academic Excellence Scholarship from the school, a scheme which was introduced this year to help students with the transition from school to university.

Meanwhile, the stage beckons for three further students who will be heading to drama school.

William Kinder and Zak Dobney from Woodkirk Academy.

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At Woodkirk Academy, the cohort that acheived GCSE results that were significantly higher than the national average have repeated the success again for A Levels, said the school.

Principal Mrs Joe Barton said “The students and staff at Woodkirk Academy should be rightly proud of the grades that have been attained. They are the result of a huge amount of

hard work, resilience and a commitment to excel in the face of the challenges presented over the past 18 months. I wish them all the very best for their future lives and look forward

to hearing about their successes.”

Vice Principal and Director of Sixth Form Mr Warwick-Giles dismissed any claims that results had been inflated due to the way they were compiled this year.

Nancy Edmondson, Rachel Duke, Kita Wren, Freya Siddle are pleased with their results at Woodkirk Academy.

He added: "There has been much talk of grade inflation as a consequence of the assessment model used this year. I urge our students to reject any suggestion that the grades they have achieved are any less valuable than in a normal examination year. The results are an accurate reflection of the ability and work ethic of the students and are fully deserved. Well done to them all and good luck as they move on to pastures new.”

Adam Ryder, principal at the GORSE Trust's Boston Spa Academy added that the grades reflected hard work, determination and resilience.

He said: "I am delighted today to see that our brilliant students have achieved the grades that accurately reflect the hard work, determination and resilience that they have demonstrated over the course of their studies with us at Boston Spa Academy.

"They can now, with great confidence, take the next step into their chosen career path knowing that they have overcome the significant challenges of the past 18 months. Everyone at the academy is exceptionally proud of their achievements and I have every confidence that they will go on to achieve even greater things in the future".

Two students at Boston Spa congratulate each other on their results.
Sixth form student Harry Botterill 3 A* reacts to his results at Boston Spa.
Sixth form student Chloe Irelands reacts with joy and surprise with her results today at Boston Spa.