Haggerston School student defers university place to volunteer in Africa despite stellar A-level results

PUBLISHED: 13:44 16 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:44 16 August 2018

The Mayor of Hackney, Cllr Phil Glanville with Africa-bound Haggerston School student Poppy Pierce on A-level results day. Photo by Ben Mole

The Mayor of Hackney, Cllr Phil Glanville with Africa-bound Haggerston School student Poppy Pierce on A-level results day. Photo by Ben Mole


The headteacher of Haggerston School has lavished praise on a student who deferred her university place to volunteer in Africa despite stellar A-level results.

When her peers are starting their degrees next September, Poppy Pierce will be heading for Jirapa in Ghana to work with children in hospital and orphanages.

She said: “University will still be waiting for me when I get back from Africa but these types of opportunities do not come along very often.

“Yes education is extremely important but to get the chance to make a real positive difference is just as an important to me.

“I actually think spending time helping people will make not just a better person but a better doctor.”

The Mayor of Hackney marked 20 years since picking up his own A-level results by celebrating with students as they tore open their envelopes at Haggerston School this morning.

Just under half of pupils at the school scoring grades which will secure places at Russell Group universities, while 53per cent of students scored A* to B grades, a 16pc increase on last year’s results.

Cllr Phil Granville said: “I visited this school earlier in the year and was deeply impressed by the remarkable improvement journey this school and sixth form has been on.

“Today’s hugely impressive 16pc increase in the top A* - B grades is not only good news for these students but also for the school, families and community of Hackney.

“Many of the students I have spoke to today will be leaving our borough to do degrees in medicine, engineering, physics and law at some of the very best universities in the country.

“This sends a very strong message that young people in Hackney can aspire and achieve places in the very top professions and careers.”

Stuart Antinio Carrion-Rivas, 18, from Hoxton, scored top grades to earn a place at Bristol University to study aerospace engineering.

“I am really pleased with my results and being accepted to my first choice universities,” he said.

“My dream is to make and fix planes and these results means I have taken my first step towards that career.

Haggerston Headteacher Ciara Emerson said: “Aspiration is one of our core values as a school and we teach students to set their sights on ambitious futures.

“I am so pleased to see students accepting offers at top universities like UCL, Warwick and Bristol to study a wide range of courses such as law, aerospace engineering and biochemistry.

“Around half of our students will take up courses at Russell Group universities, which is a testimony to their hard work and the support and commitment of the sixth form staff.

On Poppy, she added: “Poppy is an exceptionally bright young woman who will make an excellent doctor.

“Haggerston is a school which places great importance on both academic excellence and the broader development of well-rounded individuals.

“Poppy is a fine example of a student who has fantastic qualifications, the confidence to embrace new adventures and a strong sense of duty and responsibility to help others.“

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