Harneet came to the UK in late 2019, and got support with his GCSE's.
"Hi. My name is Harneet. I am 18 years old. I arrived in the UK in November 2019.
Like many asylum-seekers, our journey in the UK started in Croydon. We then moved up north and stayed in a guest house in Birmingham for around two weeks. Finally, my family and I moved to an accommodation in Wolverhampton .Finding a school and getting back to normality was a priority for everyone in my family. We were registering for the GP and searching for schools at the same time. It was very busy and very uncertain.Unfortunately, the schools I visited refused to take me in for the 2019-20 term because it was already November. I felt a bit confused at first because the schools would give me the application form, but I realised that it was for the next term!
So, my options were narrowed down to the college and an online training academy which offered an employability and personal development course. By the time I got into the college, it was already January 2020!My family and I collectively decided that I should go to college since it is a bigger institution and more opportunities might present themselves there, but I was keen to take the course too."
“It was only natural to feel a bit anxious and awkward, but I was glad that I had finally become a part of the British education system!”.
The focus of the training course was to get more work-ready by looking at our strengths and weaknesses, building a CV, presenting frequently, along with functional skills like Maths and English.
To be very honest with you guys, I was a little bit disappointed by the course. I had suddenly gone from being a student in normal education to a class where not everyone took the studies seriously. The functional skills course was not as challenging as I expected; I wanted things to progress faster because I had already experienced so many delays with my education. Therefore, I kept looking for opportunities.
One day in the start of February 2020, I found a poster which said ‘Maths GCSE revision sessions’ on a door of a classroom in college. I went as soon as I could to show my willingness to do Maths GCSE. “Asking a teacher whether the possibility existed to take on the GCSE course could do no harm”, I thought to myself.
When I arrived at the first session, the teacher gave me an old paper to check my level there and then. The exam was challenging as I was a bit rusty and consisted of some topics I had never learnt. Nevertheless, I was able to get a grade 5 on the paper. I was a bit worried about my performance at first but was really pleased that I was able to get a grade 5.
Passing that exam served as a ticket to doing my GCSEs in 2019-2020 term! Although, there was not much time to prepare for them: merely 3 months!
What I actually learned from my time practicing for Maths GCSE was not Maths itself, but the structure of Edexcel Maths GCSE papers and how exams look and feel in the UK.
After I did the test, the teacher talked to the GCSE manager and I was successfully enrolled on the English and Maths GCSE courses! I started attending GCSE lessons along with my employability course.
As the 2019-2020 term neared its end, I had to start thinking about applying for A-Levels. I applied to 3 different schools for Maths, Chemistry and Physics A-Levels with the help of REUK.
Fortunately, I got conditional offers from all three schools. One school asked me to submit the bridging work over the summer. Happy with the standard of my completed tasks, they decided to change my offer to an unconditional offer. I did not actually know what the difference between a conditional and an unconditional offer was. Later, I realised that it was a really big deal and I was relieved that at least one place at school was secured.
I was obviously very happy about this news, but I was also really nervous. For me, there were so many unknown factors. What was the environment going to be like? How will people react when they realise that I have a different English accent?
Before I decided which school was best for me, we asked acquaintances and I attended a virtual ‘Induction week’ of one of the schools. I was particularly keen on going to one school, because the environment there felt welcoming and not very stressful.
Additionally, the teachers were really helpful and encouraging, even before I was a student at their school.
On results day, I experienced one unexpected, big obstacle. It turned out that my Maths predicted grade came out to be 5. I needed a 6 at the very least to be able to do Physics A-Level, and a 7 for Maths!
After calling the manager of the GCSE department at the college on the results day itself, I realised that they had enrolled me for Maths Foundation Tier instead of Higher Tier.
When I told the manager that I achieved a 7 on the mock exam, she agreed to appeal for a correction. Since getting the revised grade back usually takes weeks, the manager proposed to write a reference to the school. This is how my place was secured at the school I wanted.
Finally, when I got the news that my place was confirmed . I let out a huge sigh of relief. I was confident that I would get in because I had worked so hard, but the sudden discrepancy had worried me a lot.
Where am I now? My transition to A-Level was a success and I am already starting to apply for UCAS! I aspire to become a mechanical engineer. I want to do this not really to make a lot of money, but because this is what I would enjoy doing the most!