Hard work and determined effort pays off for high-achieving students

Haneen Al-Ghazawi

A Syrian refugee who only started her GCSE courses last year with no knowledge of English has overcome the language barrier to achieve a string of top results.

Driven by her desire to become a doctor, Haneen Al-Ghazawi gained the highest 9 grade in philosophy, theology and ethics and Arabic, as well as grade 8 in mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics at Bede Academy, in Blyth. 

She has just returned from a medicine summer school at Cambridge University and will join the Bede Academy Sixth Form to study A Levels in physics, chemistry, biology and maths in order to follow her dream.

“During the exams I only got four or five hours sleep a night so it was a lot of work. I loved Cambridge, it was just great and I really want to go there to study medicine,” she said.

Haneen, 17, left Syria in 2012 with her mother Maha and younger brother Anas to escape the war that started where they lived. Her father had died and the family spent six years in Jordan before moving to Blyth. 

Haneen was recognised with the Bede Academy Outstanding Academic Achievement at the end of last term and was described as “a fine role model for young students” after she supported other Syrian students in their transition to school life in the UK.

“I have been in that place and I know how life is for them so I have tried to help. My mother was not allowed to work in Jordan, it is very expensive there and university places for medicine are kept for Jordanians so we couldn’t stay. We are happy in the UK,” said Haneen.

Mrs Al-Ghazawi added: “She likes to learn and she has a very good opportunity here to become a doctor.”

Principal Andrew Thelwell said: “The dedication and tenacity demonstrated by Haneen has resulted in exceptional achievement. She has made a great impact on the lives of students here and we are delighted she is staying on in our Sixth Form.”


Many students at Bede Academy, in Blyth, reaped the rewards of their hard work, as this year’s GCSE results were revealed.

Lauren Gannie and Ellis Hall

Top student Ellis Hall, 16, who also attended the Cambridge University summer school, achieved eight grade 9s in English language, literature, biology, chemistry, physics, history, philosophy, theology and ethics and German and 8s in maths and French.

On an emotional morning, he said: “After my exams I really didn’t know how they had gone. I’ve been very nervous. I’m glad it’s over and I can look forward to sixth form.”

His mum Kelly added: “He just didn’t stop working. He was up until midnight then revising again at 5am. The knowledge was there but it was just sheer panic to make sure he’d done enough. I’m very proud of him, but then I’m proud of him every day.”

Lauren Gannie also achieved grade 9s in English literature and language, history and

philosophy, theology and ethics.

“It’s been really scary waiting for the results. I started revising at Christmas and I expected to do OK but I’ve done better than I thought I would, especially in maths,” she said.

Lauren, who plays netball and hockey for the academy and local clubs, plans to study English and history A Levels at Bede.

Alice Holman with mum Tanya

Sporty Alice Holman, who has also done the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the National Citizen Service, works in the school uniform shop and is about to start another weekend job at St James’s Park, achieved top grades including three grade 9s, two 8s and two 7s.

“I just knuckled down and tried my best. I’ve been at Bede since Year 2 and the teachers have always been dedicated and pushed me to get the best I could,” said Alice, who will start A Levels in history, English literature and philosophy, theology and ethics at Bede with a view to reading law at university.

Creative students celebrated success as 100 per cent of those who took music and 96 per cent of students who studied art achieved a grade 4 or higher.

Mr Thelwell added: “Congratulations to our students for their results this year, they reflect a lot of hard work and support from students, staff and parents. At Bede Academy we value hard work as students strive to achieve their personal best as well as the development of the character of every young person in our care.

“We want the very best for all of our students and we look forward to hearing their success stories as they move on to post-16 courses, go to college or into apprenticeships and work. It is good to see so many wanting to come back and continue studying in our Sixth Form and we look forward to welcoming them back in September into Year 12.”


Musicians, singers and actors celebrated first class performances with fellow students and staff at a Northumberland Academy as this year’s A Level results were revealed.

Many students at Bede Academy, in Blyth, reaped the rewards of their hard work with 99 per cent of results a pass or above.

Five of the best – A grade students at Bede Academy, Blyth, (L-R) Jack Williamson, Jasmin Laidler, Jack Beale, Anna Leason and Jacob Glendenning

Gifted pianist Jack Beall, 18, who was recently presented with The Founding Principal’s Award for Outstanding Character at the academy’s annual Presentation Day, achieved two As in chemistry and physics and a B in maths.

The right formula for success Jack Beall, 18, of Bede Academy, Blyth, will be studying chemistry at Warwick University

“Music is my hobby but I’ve always enjoyed science,” said Jack, who will be studying chemistry at Warwick University.

“I regularly helped the music and audio visual departments with school productions and concerts, as well as playing piano in assembly, but I’ve always wanted to have a career in science.

“My subjects were very difficult and I’m really happy with my results thanks to a lot of hard work and help from the teachers here at Bede. If you put the work in, you can definitely get to where you want to be.”

Jack was among five students at Bede Academy who all secured A grades including Jack Williamson, Jasmin Laidler, Anna Leason and head boy Jacob Glendenning.

Jack said: “I feel that I am more confident, especially after being house captain and speaking in assemblies. I am now comfortable speaking to large crowds, and also in group situations. I can be happy with what I have achieved. I’m excited to go and study something I’ve never explored before in biomedical science.”

Anna, 18, of Blyth, who achieved two As in English literature and religious studies and a B in geography said: “I am just in shock. I’ve never had such good results in my life.  I was so sure that I wasn’t going to do well that I hadn’t even made any plans to go to university.

Opening doors – A grade student Anna Leason, 18, of Blyth, who surprised herself with her outstanding results

“I thought I’d just get a job and then apply for a foundation course next year. This changes everything and hopefully now I can go to Newcastle University to study geography.”

Jacob said: “More than anything, Bede Academy has given me confidence.”

Budding actor and singer Adam Swalwell, 18, who starred in the academy’s productions of Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables and organised a fundraising concert for a visit to Bede’s link school in Nokuphlia, in Africa, is set to expand his creative talents after being accepted to study media and performance at the University of Salford.

The world is a stage – A level student Adam Swalwell, 18, of Blyth, who will be studying media and performance at the University of Salford

Adam who passed three A levels in music, English language and religious studies, said: “Bede Academy has given me a great foundation in music and drama. I really want to work in the media as well as pursue my acting and singing so the course at Salford, which is so close to Media City, will be amazing.

“It will be sad to leave Bede. I have been here since the primary academy first opened in 2009, but it’s also good to turn over a new page and move on.”

There were successes in geography, with the department celebrating its highest ever number of A and B grades, and BTEC sport diploma students continuing to demonstrate their prowess with 94 per cent of the cohort achieving a double distinction or above.

Principal Andrew Thelwell added: ‘We are proud of the achievements of our students at Bede Academy. Their results reflect the hard work and dedication that they have put in, as well as the support that they have received from their families and our staff.

“A number of students are ready to embark upon university courses next month having chosen diverse areas of study including nursing, STEM, English and law. Many of our students will be going to some of the country’s most prestigious universities such as Durham, Newcastle, York and Warwick.

“I am confident that they will all go on to be successful whether at university, in apprenticeships or in work and wish them all the best for their futures.”

The majority of Bede students achieved their first choice university, and we have had an increase in the proportion of students going to prestigious Russell Group universities. Four students are embarking on Primary Education courses and many more have secured good quality apprenticeships and employment.

Student Robyn Stobbart added: “Bede feels like my home. I’ve been inspired here to become an English teacher and will study English at Northumbria University. I want to give back to the community and enable students to fulfil their potential.”

Her mum added: “We’re so lucky to have this school in Blyth.”