Adrian Diaz-Blanco is on cloud nine after achieving nine grade 9’s in maths, biology, chemistry, Spanish, French, PE, English literature and English language.
His outstanding performance comes just two days after his older brother Daniel swept the board with three A* grades in his A-levels.
Though not necessarily his favourite subjects, Adrian, from Etwall, who has attended Derby Grammar School since Year 3, puts his language skills down to the fact that his parents – a doctor and a lawyer – are both from Spain and speak Spanish in the family home.
“I’m fluent in Spanish and have considered doing it as a fourth A-level,” he said, “though I know how much work I’ll need to do with other subjects, so I don’t want to overstretch myself either.”
With brother Daniel soon off to University College London to study medicine, Adrian is expecting to follow in his footsteps – and those of his dad, who works at Derby Royal Hospital. He plans to take biology and chemistry at A-level but hasn’t fully decided whether to add either maths or English literature to his list of three subjects.
“For me, medicine has to be the most satisfying career out there, and it’s a job that’s always going to be in demand,” he said. “Seeing what happened during lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic really helped make up my mind about becoming a doctor.”
He also gave huge praise to the staff at Derby Grammar School for the way they helped him and his friends during the height of Covid.
“It’s been quite a lot of hard work, tied in with a lot of uncertainty – so getting grades like this is really, really satisfying,” said Adrian.
“The school has been really supportive throughout, with staff available almost any time of day for us. They were really well organised, which helped a lot.”
Another pupil hoping to become a doctor is Param Suri, who has achieved five grade 9’s and three grade 8’s – in biology (9), chemistry (9), physics (9), maths (9), English language (8), English literature (8), PE (8) and design & technology (9).
His feat is made even more impressive by the fact that Param (17) was born and educated in Jammu, in the north of India, until the age of 13, moving to Derby with his family only three years ago.
Although he attended an English-speaking school in India, Param’s first language is Hindi. And because he arrived in Derby half-way through the academic year, the school tailored its academic offering to allow Param almost three years of GCSE study.
“It’s been quite tough,” he said. “Coming into the country six months after the course started, I needed some extra time to catch up with the way subjects were taught here. I probably had to work much harder because of this.
“The education system in India is quite different – it’s much more a traditional style of learning there, whereas here is more about application and practical learning, which I think prepares you much better for your career.”
Param, of Mickleover, whose 12-year-old brother also attends Derby Grammar School, has chosen to study biology, chemistry and psychology A-levels, with a view to becoming a surgeon or radiographer after university.
The big smile on Param’s face perfectly illustrates how much his GCSE achievement means to him, and the keen cricketer and tennis player is grateful for the school’s support.
“I’ve been very nervous until today, but also excited. I’m so happy with the results,” he said. “The school has been fantastic. The teachers have been very patient with me, they made me very comfortable and really helped me to settle in.”