A 16-year-old who arrived in the UK only seven years ago with her family after they were displaced from Iraq has achieved one of the highest GCSE grades in her town.

Ayah Abdulsalam who attended Witton Park Academy, Blackburn achieved two 9s, five 8s, and a 7. She also achieved an A* in Arabic.

It is a remarkable feat for a young person who only started school in the UK six years ago.

The percentage of papers given a top grade (7 or A and above) rose 0.3 percentage points to 20.8% on 2018. Ayah, who is also a part of the West End Girls (WEGs) group run by One Voice, hosting their annual dinner earlier in the year at the age of 15. “I am so beyond happy with the results that I was able to achieve. Some of the results even shocked me because I didn’t think I would do well in those subjects. I am so incredibly thankful for the endless support from my family, friends and the One Voice, because without them I wouldn’t be able to achieve these results.”

There has been a slight increase in the GCSE pass rate and the percentage of top grades this year, despite concerns about the difficulty of exams.

Ayah Abdulsalam is looking forward to attending Runshaw College, in Preston, to complete her A levels.