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A-level results day: 'I used to be involved in gang culture. I didn't expect to get the grades I did'

A 20-year-old student at the university of Surrey on how hard work – and his teachers – helped him to turn his life around

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A 20-year-old student at the university of Surrey on how hard work – and his teachers – helped him to turn his life around

I was extremely naughty when I first started secondary school. Part of the problem was that I was involved in gang culture. At one point, I was almost permanently excluded from school. The only reason they let me stay was because one teacher put herself on the line for me.

One day, I witnessed a boy being beaten up in the street. I wasn’t involved in the attack, but I also didn’t step in to help. The next day at school, I saw my teacher crying. She told me that her son had been attacked the night before and had to be taken to hospital. It was the same teacher who had saved me from exclusion. That was the point when I knew things had to change, because there was only so far that the life I was leading could take me.

I was sceptical about A-levels at first because people told me how difficult they were. But I pulled up my pants and started to work so hard. I was constantly studying and the teachers were great.

Results day was such a relief. I got my grades online first, when I was at home with my mum. She’s a really strong woman and she’s my motivation. It was a good feeling to be able to give back for all the help she has given me.

At school, my teachers were joking with me and pretending they didn’t know my results. But I knew they were proud of me because they asked me to speak to some of the Year 12s, to inspire them and let them know that they could do it too.

I didn’t expect to get the grades I did. People who are supposed to be smarter than I am didn’t do as well as me. I felt really humbled. I’m now studying international politics at the University of Surrey. I want to be prime minister. It will be a lot of hard work, but I’m used to that now.

To read more A-level results day experiences from students and teachers, get the 14 August edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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