Leyton school students battle language barriers, homelessness and even losing parents to the Taliban to come out on top on GCSE results day

Teenagers defy odds to bag top GCSE results

Ruka Gjeta and Hafsa Aziz got their results at George Mitchell today

Tamim Sayed has a place at NYT as well as achieving five A*-C GCSEs

Amina Aweis

Students with head teacher Saeed Hussain

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Pupils at George Mitchell School in Leyton have overcome personal battles to be among the highest achievers at their school on GCSE results day today.

Students at the Farmer Road school won praise from peers and teachers as they opened their envelopes to find that, despite their difficulties, they had all excelled in their studies.

Polish students Caroline Cwiertnia , 16, spoke little English when she started in April 2013, but just over 15 months later she has achieved all A* to C grades, including As in maths and history.

She will now take up a place at City and Islington College to do A-levels in politics, history, maths and drama.

She then wants to study maths at either Oxford or Cambridge.

Miss Cwiertnia, of Cromer Road, said: "It was a lot of hard work. I put a lot of pressure on myself.

"I spent every single break in the library studying all the time.

"I did not spend a lot of time with my friends because I was so determined to do well in my exams.

"I was a bit upset to get one C but I won't stand in my way."

Headteacher Saeed Hussain said: "Caroline is a wonderful example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication.

“She came to our school a little over a year ago with virtually no command of English. Despite this she has defied all expectation and managed to achieve unbelievable results.

"She will now go on to do her A Levels and has set her sights at a place at Oxford or Cambridge. With what she has managed to achieve in such a short space of time here, it is a goal that is far from unrealistic."

Amina Aweis and her family were forced out of their home in Leyton halfway through her exams when the landlord decided to take the house back.

The school put her and her father up in a nearby hotel while she was taking exams and has been re-homed in Harlow, a three-hour journey from the school.

But despite the turmoil, she achieved four As, four Bs and two Cs in her GCSEs and will now do A- levels in English literature, philosophy, history and sociology.

She said: "I was determined that it would not stop me getting good marks. What happened was really hard and the way it happened  - but you have to be determined.

"The school made a big difference. If they had not put me up in the hotel I don't know if I would have done as well as I did. They helped me write to my MP and to the council."

Tamim Sayed's parents were murdered by the Talban in Afghanistan and he left the country in 2006.

He was offered a place at the National Youth Theatre March earlier this year after impressing during a series of rigorous auditions.

The teenager secured all A* to C grades.

Mr Sayed was just eight when he returned home from school in Jalalabad to discover his parents had been kidnapped and killed.

Now the teenager, of Park Road in Leyton, will study for A-levels and acting.

He said: "The headteacher said to me as when I got into the National Youth Theatre that I should just forget about that and concentrate on my exams.”

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