Education & Family

A-level students' success stories

Students across England and Wales are celebrating receiving their A-level and AS-level results - some despite difficult personal circumstances. Ranging from an Olympic diver to a teenage mum, here are some of their stories.

Jenn Pitt, Marske, Cleveland

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Image caption Jenn said she was "really happy" with her exam results

Jenn, 18, is celebrating getting an A and two Bs in A-level law, English and drama and has secured a place at York University to study law.

But her sixth form years were marred by personal problems at home that resulted in her being made homeless for months at a time.

Her problems began in May 2010 when she said she fell out with her father over going out with friends and having a boyfriend. Just before her AS-level exams that summer, she says she was kicked out of the house and could not return to get her books and revision notes, even clothes.

Jenn slept on friends' floors before moving into a support house for young homeless people. After a brief reconciliation she returned home for a short period, but ended up back in the support house.

She has recently got back in touch with her mother, who she had not seen since she was 11, and is now staying with her and her step-father.

So what motivated her to keep going with her studies?

"I thought I've already had so much taken away from me, I've lost so many people and I just thought I'm not going to lose out on anything else. I'd always wanted to be a barrister, so I went for it.

"College really kept me going and it was the one thing that wasn't changing over that time. Everyone said to me they didn't know how I got through it."

Amy Qureshi, Bristol

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Image caption Amy had her daughter, Daisy, when she was 17

Amy, 21, has just added an A in English literature to existing A-levels in English literature and language, and photography, for which she achieved A and B grades.

"I'm really excited, I got my place at university and I'm really proud of myself. I didn't think I'd get this far and I have, it's wonderful," she said.

She achieved the grades despite dropping out of college when she became pregnant at 17, raising her daughter alone on benefits, and having struggled for years with depression.

"There's this stereotype that young parents don't go anywhere with their lives and I was worried I'd end up in a dead-end job that I hated," she said. "I was really low."

But during a Connexions course for young mothers she was encouraged to return to St Brendan's Sixth Form College and found that learning boosted her self-esteem.

"Studying really helped me with my depression, because I was getting positive feedback from my teachers, it was making me feel good about myself," she said.

Amy has been accepted to study English Literature at the University of the West of England, and hopes to become an English teacher. Her daughter, Daisy, is now four.

"I want her to see that you can make something of your life even if things don't go exactly way you planned," she said.

Daniel Holt, Greater Manchester

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Image caption Daniel said watching law programmes on TV gave him a thirst for the profession

Daniel got an A* and two As in psychology, law and English language, securing a place to study law at Queen Mary, University of London.

The 20 year old, who lives in Timperly with his family, has cerebral palsy, limiting his mobility. As Daniel has limited movement in his hands, his college provided support throughout his exams, such as a scribe.

He attributes his success to working hard and being incredibly determined to do well in his grades.

Daniel, whose ambition is to become a barrister after his degree, says being incredibly focussed on this goal helped him to achieve his results.

"I have had an interest in law from a young age, when I used to watch law-based programmes on television. I am looking forward to being able to see the situations first-hand," he said.

"I'm extremely proud with my results, I was expecting three As, but I am so proud of doing even better," he said. "I am looking forward to learning more about law in practice at university, and eventually hope to become a barrister."

He will be moving on his own to London at the end of August and is already looking forward to settling into university life.

Six sets of twins, Brighton, East Sussex

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Image caption One set of brothers got identical results in identical subjects

Six sets of twins were among the pupils achieving high grades at the independent Brighton College in East Sussex.

Of these, five of the siblings got the same grades as each other.

Among them were Rehka and Priya Rogers, 18, who got three As and one A* each, but said they had hoped to do even better.

Rehka, who is going on to study law at Oxford after getting an A* in chemistry and As in French, maths and history, while Priya, who also got an A* in chemistry, along with As in physics, maths and French and is going to study medicine at Kings College London.

Speaking of sibling rivalry, she said: "Luckily there's no competition at all. If one of us did badly and one of us did well I would have wanted it to be her that did well.

"But it worked out well because we've got the same grades."

Matthew and Stuart Waugh, 18, both got three As in geography, business studies and PE.

The pair, who have never been apart for more than a week at a time, will be split up when they go to university, with Matthew going to Newcastle and Stuart to Leeds.

Stuart said: "We'll miss each other, everyone says we're soulmates because we've got the same soul."

Olympic diver Tom Daley

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Image caption Tom admitted on Twitter on Wednesday that he was nervous

World-champion diver Tom Daley, 17, is among the students who have received their exam results on Thursday.

He completed his photography A-level this year, at the age of 17, and will continue with maths and Spanish modules next year at the independent Plymouth College.

Writing on Twitter he said: "Ok got the results!!!! Maths B, Spanish A and Photography A* :) gonna retake one of my maths modules but kinda happy :)."

Tom, who hopes to win a diving medal in 2012 London, received his results via email rather than attending in person.

In May, his father Rob, died from cancer.

Tom has been a student at Plymouth College since April 2009 when aged 15, he was taken out of Plymouth's state-run Eggbuckland Community College, saying he was being bullied.

His new school developed what headmaster Simon Wormleighton called "a flexible academic programme to fit in with his various commitments".

Kiron Young, Bristol

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Image caption Kiron says he's very excited about starting university

Kiron, 19, achieved a B in psychology and C in sociology. He already had a C in law, so now he has a place at Birmingham City University to study law.

He said he wanted to study law to ensure he followed a different route to some of his peers.

"The area I grew up in doesn't contain the best behaved people. I don't want to be the same as someone who is there doing crime, it made me want to study law. It deterred me from that lifestyle," he said.

Kiron has 13 siblings. He shares a house with his mum, step-father, 17-year-old sister and baby brother and sister who are aged two and one - born during his A-levels.

"The past two years have been a little bit of a struggle," he says. "I help when I can, but I'm not expected to help."

Most of his studying took place in the peace of the Filton College library, where he said he would go from 09:00 to 17:00. He would also go there in the holidays, or to the city library.

He also worked part time at Sainsbury's until last September, when he decided to focus purely on his studies. "It was hard, as I need the money, but I'm not going to jeopardise my studies, they're what's important in the long term."

He was awarded "student who has made the most progress" on A-levels at the college's recent prize day and is excited about starting university.

Ben Andrews, Orpington, Kent

Ben, who is is only 16 and attends a comprehensive school, achieved A* in Maths and Physics, an A in Geography and As in English and Further Maths in his AS levels.

"I am delighted with my A-level results and have just received my confirmation letter from Ucas informing me that I have met the conditions for my offer from Selwyn College, Cambridge."

He sat his exams as part of an accelerated programme at school and will study economics in 2012, when he will have just turned 18.

"There were lots of problems this morning trying to find out my results. We couldn't get on to the website. I finally got my results from school and had to wait for the letter today from Cambridge to find out if I'd got my place there," he said.

"I'm really delighted - so are my parents and grandparents."