Hard work translated into top results for a languages student who dreams one day of becoming an interpreter.

St Michael Catholic Academy student Mary Guirgis gained eight 9s and two 8s in her GCSE exams, cementing years of successful learning.

“I had done well in my mocks, but it is really nice to get to the end with a set of great results,” said the 16-year-old, of Norton, who will now study A levels in French, English and maths.

“I am passionate about my languages. My dad is from Egypt and speaks Arabic, which I’m trying to learn, though it is very hard. It would be great to be an interpreter as I love travelling and seeing new places.”

Mary also likes reading, crocheting and attends St John’s Ambulance every week. “I am like a little old lady,” she joked. “But I enjoy practising first aid and it is a good skill to have.

“St Michael’s was great; I really enjoyed it there, seeing my friends and the teachers were fabulous.”

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Ashley Halliday also had high praise for the teaching staff who have helped him grow in confidence and gain seven GCSEs, including maths, English and science.

His carer Andrew Scott said: “When he came to live with us, he was struggling with life at school. He didn’t like crowds and the noise and didn’t participate that much. But he has flourished at St Michael’s and has really come out of his shell. He has turned full circle, and the school has been fantastic. He is a lot happier and has grown in confidence.”

Ashley, who lives with autism, added: “School has been amazing, and the teachers have been so supportive. They really looked after me and were so happy with my results.”

The 16-year-old plans to study animal management at Askham Bryan College, in Stewart Park, Middlesbrough, with a view to working with animals.

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Football striker Dan Dryden scored highly in his GCSEs after turning his life around at St Michael’s.

The 16-year-old, of Norton, was only expecting to pass two GCSEs, maths and English, but added another six to his tally after his difficulties with reading were identified by the school’s special educational needs and/or disabilities coordinator.

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Headteacher Clare Humble allowed him to drop a subject so he could spend an additional five hours a week on maths and English.

“I was really struggling with my reading and so was bored in class as I didn’t understand what was going on,” said Dan, who is striker for Stockton and helped Norton 18s win Division 1 with 32 goals last season.

“When the teachers realised I had issues they taught me differently and it was all much better. I feel really proud of what I have achieved, and it has helped me grow in confidence. The teachers and Ms Humble were brilliant.”

Dan, who already referees and coaches, is hoping to study personal training at The Forum and is also considering going to college to study football coaching. “I also want to keep playing,” he said. “I’m starting to train with Stockton men’s team, which is great,” he said.

Ms Humble said: “It has been a tough time for our young people over the past few years, and these results go to show what can be achieved with the right approach. They have showed tremendous resilience, and I would also like to commend our dedicated teaching staff who have helped them succeed.”