As students across the country find out their GCSE results, we celebrate the success of some of ARK's students.
'We're pushed to try more, achieve more, believe more.'
Sixteen year old Tolu is the outgoing Head Boy of ARK Kings Academy in Birmingham and the academy’s first head boy. Today he learned that he has passed seven GSCEs, including four As and two Bs. He’s planning to go on to sixth form and, ultimately, hopes to study science or engineering at university. Tolu has already won a scholarship to attend summer school at the world renowned Phillips Exeter Summer School in the US from which he’s just returned.
'It takes me three buses and an hour to get to ARK Kings every morning. It’s completely different now that it’s an ARK school. The mind set and attitude of pupils has changed. I look at life differently and believe I can achieve. Our teachers also constantly reinforce that belief. We’re pushed to try more, achieve more, believe more.'
'Here the teachers go the extra mile.'
Michael, a 15 year-old student at ARK Putney Academy, has received 11 GCSEs, seven at A* and two at grade A. He will join ARK Putney's sixth form in September.
'My parents think that education is really important. Getting jobs is tough at the moment and no one is going to hire you if you don’t have good grades, a good CV, good experience - all that counts. Education is just a pathway towards a better life.
I wanted to come to ARK Putney sixth form because statistically, I think it is a really good school. Also, it is big enough to be successful but small enough that the teachers actually know your name. Here the teachers go the extra mile to give you revision sessions after school and holidays.'
'Don't ever underestimate yourself.'
Elizabeth is 16 years old and attends Burlington Danes Academy in West London. Today she's celebrating achieving eleven GCSEs with nine at A*, one A and one B. She plans to go on to sixth form and then university to study medicine.
'I came to the UK with my parents in 2000 when I was around three years old, like most other foreign people, we came in search of a better life and better opportunities.
I do consider myself a good student. It's about your attitude. Don’t ever underestimate yourself because you won’t fulfil your potential. Take every opportunity that’s thrown at you and work hard. You can't get anywhere without working hard. You might be crying at the time but it really does pay off.
One of the things that I like most about BDA is the fact that they encourage competition between students. Most people think competition is a negative thing but I think the staff have come up with a way of using competition to encourage students to achieve. The teachers are very encouraging and they push you to do the best that you can.'
'I have to thank all the teachers for their tremendous support and hard work.'
Zarina is a student from ARK's Charter Academy in Portsmouth. She achieved 11 GCSEs, including further maths at A**, four at A* and four at grade A, as well as a raft of other qualifications.
'I am really thrilled with my results and really proud to have done so well. I’m moving on to study at Portsmouth High School for Girls, to study A Levels. I have to thank all the teachers for their tremendous support and hard work. They pushed me and gave me opportunities to succeed.'
'Charter Academy really pushes you to study hard.'
Sixteen year old Tshibola studies at ARK's Charter Academy in Portsmouth. She achieved eight GCSEs and equivalent qualifications, including two A*s and two As. She came to the UK from the Congo five years ago.
'When I arrived in the UK, I spoke four languages but it was so hard because I didn't speak English. My sister and I could communicate only with each other. We used to cry about it together.
Life is always tough and you just have to try to make the most of it. It's all about learning. Charter Academy really pushes you to study hard. We would come in on Saturdays for extra studying sessions. I call GCSEs the key to life in the UK- if you don't have those keys, so few doors are open to you.
Being a good student is about being focused and never giving up. I've got a little voice inside me always telling me to try again. Look forwards, never backwards.
I'm a member of the UK Youth Parliament. I've always wanted to help people from Africa because I know how hard it can be. We had no school and we had to go out to find food and water - everything was difficult. All children want to go to school. I would like to do what I can, use what I know, to help others have a chance to succeed in the future.'
'All the hard work has paid off.'
Miski is a student at St Albans Academy. She achieved 10 A* grades and 3 A grades at GCSE, including A*s in Mathematics, English Literature, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and History. Miski also achieved an A grade in AS Spanish. She going to study Chemistry, Biology, Physics and History at A Level.
'I am extremely pleased with my results. They were better than expected and all the hard work has paid off! St Alban’s has helped me a lot to get the grades that I got today. I wouldn't have got this far without their help.'