GSCE Results 2017: Ark Academy pupil wins £80,000 scholarship to boarding school
PUBLISHED: 13:09 25 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:15 25 August 2017
From bottom sets at school to bombs while on holiday, a Wembley school boy has won a full scholarship to boarding school after smashing GSCE targets in his pursuit of his dream.
Ammar Al-Kahachi will start a new life at Dulwich College next Thursday after achieving the highest progress of any pupil at Ark Academy, in Bridge Road.
He jumped five grades to secure an A* in biology, RE, and Arabic and A’s in chemistry, physics, Spanish and Geography, a 7 in maths and 6s for English.
The 16-year-old was unable to speak English when he started at the school five years ago having arrived from Iraq six months earlier.
He won the “£80,000 scholarship” to the independent school in East London where he’ll study physics, maths, geography and Arabic, despite applying for the place a year after deadline, having seen the opportunity while trawling Google.
He said: “I always wanted to be a pilot and when I started at Ark Academy I was placed in the bottom sets.
“It was really frustrating I couldn’t do anything at the time so I just worked my way up.
“It’s something I never dreamed of, going to a boarding school, especially Dulwich, I’m really excited; it’s been a really long journey.”
He added: “My dad came here as an asylum seeker in 2000 and applied for a family visa for us but it got rejected, twice. Finally in 2010 they accepted us and we moved here a year later.
In Year 7 and 8 he learnt English by working through all the primary English books at home and immersing himself into life at school.
“My parents didn’t help me. My mum doesn’t speak English that well, she’s taking lessons, and my dad was busy with work.
“My teachers in the school, I honestly give credit to them, they helped me a lot. They recommended an event at Heathrow where I heard about flight training programmes. I flew a plane with the Air Cadets, but only for 30 minutes.”
On two trips to Iraq to visit family in 2014 and 2015 he escaped a bomb which went off 10 minutes after they had passed through a checkpoint in Baghdad.
“On those days there was a bit of traffic and somehow the lights changed quite quickly and we were able to drive through.
“Ten minutes later we heard a bomb had gone off there. Two times we managed to make it out.
“I have mixed emotions about it. Why did I survive and others didn’t, then I try to look at it in religious terms, why did God save me? They are mostly questions that can’t be answered. It’s very sad and I feel very lucky.
“I don’t really consider Iraq my country as much as I used to. This country has given me so much.
He added: “It’s definitely still my goal to be a pilot.”
Ark Academy recorded “outstanding progress” across all its schools with 40 per cent of grades achieved in English and maths were 6 or higher.
Seventy five pc attained a 4+ in either English language or literature and maths; 57pc attained a 5+ in both.