Tag Archive: GCSE

An Oar-some achievement: ‘A star’ in the classroom and on the water

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TALENTED: Harin Wijayathunga is leading the way in school and on the river

TALENTED: Harin Wijayathunga is leading the way in school and on the river

An academic ace from Leeds, who recently celebrated achieving a ‘wave’ of 10 A*s in his GCSEs, is proving that his talents ‘flow’ further than just the classroom as he continues to excel in his passion for cox rowing.

Sixteen-year-old Harin Wijayathunga, from Meanwood, has been training with the Leeds Rowing Club ever since the London Olympics inspired him to pursue a career in the sport.

Balancing life on the river with his studies at the Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), the ambitious all-rounder is not one to just sit back and relax in his spare time.

Explaining more about his busy schedule leading up the exams, Harin said: “I didn’t find it too hard to balance rowing with my studies.

“Admittedly, I was revising on the boat at times with my flashcards but it’s all about time management at the end of the day because we train a lot during the week after school.

“I generally manage my time well enough. This year, I had to really take a check on how much I was rowing because of my GCSEs.”

Despite only training as a cox for a relatively short period of time, Harin has already had trials for the British Under-18 rowing team and is the youngest cox at Leeds Rowing Club.

He was also one of the youngest coxswains to steer a team at the prestigious Henley Regatta two years ago when he was just 14-years-old.

LEADER: After taking up cox rowing at the age of 12, Harin has since achieved some remarkable success in the sport

LEADER: After taking up cox rowing at the age of 12, Harin has since achieved some remarkable success in the sport

This year he has not taken part in any of the big summer rowing events so that he could concentrate on his studies.

However, during the winter he participated in the four and eight head races on the River Thames where his Leeds club is the only one in Yorkshire to feature in the top 100.

“These competitions are dominated by the London clubs because they have the advantage of training on the Thames so they know the river like the back of their hands.  

“It’s a great achievement for Leeds Rowing Club to have done so well in the head races.”

With a university degree at Cambridge in his sights, Harin says he has to ensure he continues to work hard in his A Levels to ensure he can achieve the sporting ambition of his dreams.

“The first race I watched was the Oxford and Cambridge boat race - that is what I want to do,” he added.

“I want to win that race. To get to that level is really hard. The work that I’m doing now with Leeds is going to put me in a good position to be trialling for those positions if I do get into Cambridge.

“It’s hard work now, but I’m more than happy to do it because it will be a big moment when that happens.”

With three A*s predicted in his summer 2018 exams, a race on the Thames may be right around the riverbend for Harin.

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Drop in GCSE results a ‘wakeup call’

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RESULTS: Dr Mohammed Ali, founder of the QED Foundation, says more has to be done to ensure the next generation of British Muslims are not undereducated and underemployed

RESULTS: Dr Mohammed Ali, founder of the QED Foundation, says more has to be done to ensure the next generation of British Muslims are not undereducated and underemployed

Bradford charity CEO slams education system

The founder of a Bradford charity, which aims to break down barriers faced by South Asian members of the community, has urged other BME organisations to take up the issue of a ‘failing education system’.

Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, founder and CEO of the QED Foundation, made the remarks after it was revealed that Bradford came second from bottom in national GCSE results.

Nationally, the number of schools which failed to reach the minimum expectation of 40 per cent of children achieving the expected five A* to C grades, had more than doubled from the previous year to 330 secondary schools.

53 per cent of pupils nationally achieved at least the five expected grades, another steep fall from last year’s results of 59 per cent.

Dr Ali said the latest report was a ‘wakeup call’ to the ‘catastrophic issue of the failings of the education system’, and something had to be done now to address this.

“Here at the QED Foundation, we urge local BME and Muslim organisations throughout the country to take up the catastrophic issue of the failings of the education system for our young people with their local council,” he said.

“As someone who works at the coalface of unemployment for ethnic minorities, primarily for those in Muslim communities, it is simply unacceptable that Bradford has been ranked almost bottom in the national league table for GCSE results.”

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Mr Ali added that the two ‘pillars’ essential to the success of any community are education and employment – both things he says need improving in the city.

Bradford was officially second bottom in the results table, alongside Blackpool, with only 44 per cent of students achieving the required grades. Merseyside was again bottom on 35 per cent.

“We must improve the education and employment prospects of young Muslims so that they feel part of mainstream society, and have the opportunity to positively contribute,” he said.

“The way the media is currently portraying Muslims as radicalised or terrorists, [makes] young British Muslims feel they are being targeted.

“This in turn, increases feelings of hopelessness and alienation, fuelling racial divides. We must not let that happen. Education and employment are key to inclusion.

“It is the only real solution for lasting, positive change. Education is the only hope, not just for the future of Bradford, but for British Muslims across the UK.

“Education has a transformative power. It changes lives, always for the better, and yet our schools are failing young people at the very first hurdle.

“This is a wakeup call.”

Over the past 25 years, the QED Foundation has supported 30,000 ethnic minorities with education and employment skills, working on alleviating poverty, disadvantage and ignorance through adult education and re-training.

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