A homeless refugee achieved inspirational GCSE results despite repeated emergency housing moves during her studies.

Jowira Bakr, 16, arrived in the UK from Qatar as an asylum seeker in 2019 with her mother and nine siblings.

Living in temporary accomodation, they since moved from London to Bristol and back, with a series of homes around north London, Hertfordshire and Essex.

Jowira started at Hampstead School last September at the start of Year 11 but her family continued to be moved - and she was often late for school due to the distances she had to travel.

Her prospects did not seem good: she had never heard of media studies and received a grade 1 - the lowest mark - in her history mock exam in November.

But when she opened her results envelope on August 24, she discovered she had received a 7 - the equivalent of an A - in both.

Overall she received eight GCSEs including two 8s - the second highest grade - three 7s and and three 6s.

Jowira says encouragement from her mother - who is looking after children aged from four months old to 20 - helped her focus.

She said: "I was crying to my mum, saying 'I can't do it'. I didn't think I could do it.
She said 'if you have that mentality it's going to be hard. Try your best'.

"It was very stressful and there were many times when I felt like giving up but I knew I had to force myself to keep going and not be left with regrets."

She studied on her phone, and credits her success to "lots of past papers", which her teachers at the comprehensive school in Westbere Road marked.

Because of where she was living, it took her two hours to travel to one exam, but the school allowed her extra time.

"I didn't expect the grades I got," she added. "I got an 8 for English literature. It was one I was really surprised about as I would get marked 5 or 6 for it."

The family were moved to temporary accommodation in Northampton in the summer but she hopes to return to Hampstead School for sixth form.

"I feel like when people look at me they will look very high at me for the grades I've received due to my situation," she said.

"However, without my family and the school's support, I don't think I would have been able to do it."

Jowira said the "greatest thing" she has learnt was to not base her final marks on her mock grades.

She explained: "That's a common mistake that a lot of students tend to do that prevents them from improving or even putting in the effort to because they think their mocks are a reflection of the highest level that they could reach.

"It's important not to limit yourself to your previous abilities and always work on improving."