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Gorleston teen wins place at top school

PUBLISHED: 09:27 24 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:10 30 June 2010

Teenager Luba Ndidi was all smiles as he stood among the panelled walls of a top Norfolk private school, with the names of star pupils and the portraits of imposing former headmasters all around him.

Teenager Luba Ndidi was all smiles as he stood among the panelled walls of a top Norfolk private school, with the names of star pupils and the portraits of imposing former headmasters all around him.

For the 16-year-old from one of the county's most deprived areas has won a £50,000 scholarship to do his A-levels at historic Gresham's School - whose old boys include household names from the worlds of science and the arts.

The youngster won his place through a growing link between the 500-year-old seat of learning at well-heeled Holt and Oriel High School, Gorleston, which is battling its way back from several years of below-average exam results, a string of heads and financial problems.

Luba was chosen after a series of tough tests and interviews whittled down 14 contenders from Oriel - and will start in September providing he gets his expected batch of A and B GCSE grades.

Switching his schooling from Gorleston to Gresham's should help his qualifications and confidence grow, and help him realise his dream of becoming a doctor.

“Gresham's can open doors for people like me and shows everything is possible,” said the youngster who will take four A-levels and is also looking forward to pursuing sport including football and rugby.

Luba was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and came to Norfolk in 2007, two years after his mother Pat who is a mammographer at the James Paget University Hospital which inspired his own career choice.

They live in a rented house nearby, and a “proud and happy” Mrs Ndidi said she was pleased at the opportunity Luba now had, which she could not afford to fund as a single parent.

Oriel head of creative arts Liz Haddleton forged the school link six years ago after dropping in to the school to research a book on Holt's history.

It has resulted in exchange trips between the two, which has now developed into the scholarship.

She said results at Oriel were improving and there were some “high fliers” but students sometimes struggled with self confidence and self esteem, which Gresham's fostered well.

Luba, who would otherwise go on to the East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Gorleston, will be asked to do a blog on Oriel's website to keep students in touch with his progress.

He had no fears of being homesick because of the busy schedule of lessons and sport, and having already readjusted to making the switch between Cape Town and Gorleston.

Gresham's head Philip John said the scholarship was part of Gresham's policy of opening up the school to a wider variety of people.

The selection process aimed to find someone who was ambitious, committed to working hard and doing well and who was able to make a contribution and difference at the school, adding: “Teenagers, whatever their background, are all similar at heart.”

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