It's Cambridge for prodigy, 15

28th August 2009 at 01:00
Youngest student to win university place this year completed A-levels in 12 months

A 15-year-old maths prodigy has earned a place at Cambridge.

Niall Thompson, from Mossley, Greater Manchester, was fast-tracked onto A- level courses in maths, further maths, statistics and physics - which he completed in only 12 months - at Ashton Sixth Form College after his talent was spotted by his teachers.

Brought up in a single-parent household by his mother, Bev, 39, who was recently made redundant, Niall is the first in his family to go to university.

He said: "She's more excited than me. To know in my hands I've got proof that I've done enough to have my offer satisfied is amazing. I'm so pleased."

Niall, who is due to begin his maths degree in September at Magdalene College, accepted that his university experience might differ from that of his fellow students.

"I just want it to be normal. That I've got there three years early shows how much hard work I've put in," he said.

Niall was studying on Ashton's XL programme, designed specifically for high-flying, gifted and talented students, with mentoring by dedicated teachers.

Dr Janet Nevin, Ashton's principal, said: "This is a fantastic achievement for Niall and the college staff who have supported him throughout."

A refugee from Afghanistan who hopes to return to his country as a Red Cross doctor was also among those collecting results last Thursday.

Rezza Torkmani, 19, studied English and basic maths at Havering College of Further and Higher Education after fleeing Kabul, and an education disrupted by war, with his family.

He said: "We had a very bad situation. It was normal for the school to be open one day and closed the next. You could see the bullets in the wall. Most of the time we tried to study at home."

On the day Afghanistan went to the polls, he discovered he had earned a B in A-level maths, two As in AS-level physics and biology and a B in AS- level chemistry.

Polish student Katarzyna Dybowska was celebrating gaining three As at A- level just three years after arriving in Northampton with so little English that her father had to translate at her college interview.

The 19-year-old, who studied at Northampton College, earned top grades in English language, media studies and communication studies and is considering teaching English as a career.

She said: "I'm so happy. I can go to university in Bangor, my first choice, where I'll study English language and psychology. I like the idea of teaching English or becoming a psychologist."

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