A year ago Zuzanna barely spoke English – now she has eight GCSEs

Zuzanna Gwozdz, 16, picked up her brilliant GCSE results at the school on Thursday morning.

Zuzanna came to Wales last August and enrolled at the school in Penydarren in September 2015.

When she started in year 11, she was too afraid to speak English in front of her new classmates in case she made a mistake.

Zuzanna, 16, had learned English as a second language in Poland, but she admitted it was a very different thing to speak another language compared to learning it in a classroom.

After catching up on coursework, modules and revising topics she’d missed in year 10, Zuzanna did a brilliant job and passed every single subject she studied at GCSE after cramming two years of Key Stage 4 work into just one year.

She achieved a total of eight GCSEs, including an A in maths and an A* in Polish, and C grades in English literature and English language.

She said: “I’m quite happy. I still can’t believe it. I think it’s amazing. I didn’t expect so many passed exams. I prayed for five Cs. I thought it would be impossible – I’m so shocked.”

On starting school in a completely new environment, she said: “I could speak but I was so afraid to make any mistakes that I didn’t want to speak. I tried to learn and make friends.”

She will now go on to study her A levels at The College Merthyr Tydfil, taking up English, maths, psychology and photography.

On the thought of leaving Bishop Hedley for good, Zuzanna said: “I think it’s nice here. They were very helpful.”

Mum Kamila, 40, was bursting with pride at her daughter’s achievement and thanked the teachers for going the extra mile for her daughter.

She said: “Teachers were so fantastic, really changing her life. Now she knows how far she may go if she feels confident. It’s a very good school. She had individual pathway sometimes because she learned two years in one. Her first week in school, she was so shocked. She was in the corner, she was completely frightened because of the big change. But teachers saw her and, step by step, we are here. I’m really proud of her, big relief. My daughter is a star!”

Samantha Esau, director of learning for Key Stage 4, said Zuzanna had even been learning further English at college as well as keeping up with her school work.

“She’s come to us at the start of year 11 with very little English, she’s caught up with all the work from year 10 and went on to achieve her grades today. She worked really hard. She’s an all-round, hardworking, intelligent young lady. I think she will go far.”