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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
The GCSE 'stars' basking in glory
GCSE student Maddy Korn helping at a Kenyan orphanage
Maddy Korn who got 10 A*s spent the summer at a Kenyan orphanage
After last week's A-level celebrations, now it is the turn of 16-year-olds to toast their exam successes.

One of them is 16-year-old Maddy Korn who has achieved an enviable 10 A* grades.

Since finishing her last exam paper, there has been no time to relax and unwind for the academically gifted youngster.

Instead, she has embarked on a summer holiday programme working in a Kenyan orphanage.

She said: "I thought it would be an amazing experience, not only for me but helping other people".

Maddy, a pupil at Haberdashers' School for Girls in Monmouth, Wales, travelled out to Hosanna Orphanage with a friend to teach maths to a class of 30 orphans aged three to eight.

She said: "The orphanage couldn't afford a teacher, so we took the classes."

The trip was organised through a group called Cosmic Volunteers.

Over the moon

Maddy is certainly a rising star - but not the only one.

Three girls are over the moon after each picking up A*s in their astronomy GCSE.

Jennifer Atcheson, 16, Gayathri Kumar, 16, and Lydia Wild, 16, all attend Merchant Taylor's Girls' school in Crosby, Merseyside.
So much of what I learned has helped me understand other subjects, which is why I think I did ok with all my other GCSEs
Gayathri Kumar, A* GCSE astronomy student

Jennifer, from Little Crosby, Merseyside, said: "I wanted to study astronomy but it was only available as an extra - on top of my other options.

"I knew it would be hard work but it is an interesting subject so it wasn't too difficult."

Gayathri, from Ormskirk, Lancashire, said: "So much of what I learned has helped me understand other subjects, which is why I think I did ok with all my other GCSEs".

Head of Physics Janet Custard said "It's the second year we have offered astronomy and we feel it is a subject that stretches our gifted and talented girls.

"The standard of work was out of this world, both literally and metaphorically, and showed tremendous commitment to rigorous academic study.

"All three girls are real stars."

Bright young things

Of course it is not just 16-year-olds who take GCSEs - and there are always amazing stories from younger entrants, including 13-year-old Caroline Bowden, who achieved one of the top five marks in the country for GCSE Spanish.

The Central Newcastle High School student, who is not due to take her GCSEs for another three years, will now start studying for an AS-level.

Nine-year-old Wajih Ahmed from Frimley in Surrey was delighted to get an A* in maths.

His mother, Saadia Ahmed, said: "We are very proud of him.

"It is such a big thing at such a small age.

"He enjoys maths and for him it is fun. He loves it."

He is now studying AS-level maths and has ambitions to work in the City when he is older.

Pensioner power

And let us not forget the older generation, who have proved an equal match for young brains.

Former RAF engineer Leonard Jones, 74, who left school at 14 - with no qualifications - to get a job to support his five younger siblings, is celebrating GCSE success.

The pensioner, from Poole, Dorset, decided to go back to school after retirement.

He said: "I was afraid of becoming a vegetable, wondering what day or week it was.

"I didn't want to be walking around like a zombie so I went to do adult training to keep my brain working."
Alice Gibb
I was really determined to get A* grades so I am just happy that I did
Alice Gibb, model and GCSE student
He has already passed his GCSE intermediate maths certificate with a grade C - the top grade for that category - and his English level two.

He decided to continue his studies with two hours a week on a GCSE English literature course last September and has now passed the exam with a grade C.

"I'm delighted," he said. "I didn't expect a C again. That matches the maths result I got.

"English is a bit of a hard subject. When you start reading Shakespeare it's like a different language, but once you get into it it's really interesting and a lot of it is timeless."

The pensioner, who has 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, is also studying 'maths for everyone' at the Open University.

He hopes to continue studying different modules until he has enough points for a degree.

Twins' identical results

Sibling rivalry is a common phenomenon but what if you are a twin and your other half is expecting to get nine GCSE grade A*s ? It might leave you anxious to say the least.

This was the case for Loughborough Grammar school student Thomas Hatfield - whose twin Oliver had high expectations.

Fortunately, Thomas and Oliver have more in common than identical genes - the 16-year-olds got matching results.

Thomas, who eventually wants a career in medicine, said: "I am happy and relieved.

"The doubts are out of my mind. Having Olly expecting all A*s it's pressure, so I'm glad I have lived up to it."

The boys' father Steven Hatfield, a maths teacher at the school, said: "We were worried what it would be like if one had done substantially better than the other but they have both performed really well all the way through their schooling."

Another set of twins from the same school also got symmetrical results - Naren and Ajay Ratan scored 11 A*s each.

Cross-Channel hurdle

Four young athletes who were forced to take an exam in France because it clashed with a major athletics event in which they were participating across the Channel, are celebrating their academic achievements.

The girls - Eloise Walden-Day, Megan Freeman, Sarah Murphy and Sarah Walker, won places in the Jean Humbert International Athletics tournament in June.

It was an opportunity of a lifetime but it coincided with their physics GCSE.

So staff at the independent Portsmouth Grammar School arranged for them to sit the exam while they were in France and they all achieved A* in the subject.

Sarah Murphy, who competes at the long jump and hurdles, said: "It was strange taking the exam in a foreign country but great that our GCSEs didn't stop us from taking part in an international competition."

Another Portsmouth Grammar School student - Alice Gibb - has proved to be a model student.

The teenager, who is tipped by some to be the next Kate Moss, is celebrating a clutch of GCSEs - nine A* grades and the top grade A in advanced maths.

The 16-year-old, who featured in The Observer Magazine's A-Z of 2007 fashion trends, said: "I am pretty pleased. I worked really hard.

"I was really determined to get A* grades so I am just happy that I did."

Alice, whose father is a neurologist, was signed by the top modelling agency Premier in December 2005.

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