London school bars girl from A-levels after she gets blood disorder during GCSEs

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A furious mother has criticised a top London comprehensive school for “cruelly” barring her daughter from entering sixth form after she was diagnosed with a blood disorder during her GCSE exams which affected her results.

Somiya Shabir, 16, who suffers from an extremely low iron count, was refused entry to Highgate Wood sixth form after getting a D grade in her maths exam taken just weeks after the diagnosis.

Her mother took her for tests after the “quiet and reserved” student began shaking uncontrollably and struggled to hold a pen during revision at home. She said doctors pulled Ms Shabir out of school and told her family her iron count in blood was under four, when the  average is 13.

Somiya, who is still on medication, had hoped to study geography, media studies and sociology A-levels at the north London school whose alumni include BBC business editor Robert Peston and rapper Chipmunk.

North London’s Highgate Wood School (Anne-Marie Sanderson)

Her mother Tahira Sarwar, 43, who was forced to give up her role in the Metropolitan police due to her own illness, is now demanding Somiya be allowed to retake the crucial maths exam that will let her return to study.She said: “Somiya couldn’t walk, she was shaking and trembling and couldn’t hold a pen without being in pain.  We had tests and then the  doctors got me to pull her out urgently. I was terrified it was cancer.

“She was on medication right in the middle of exams and couldn’t get up at all in the mornings. I had to drag her up, the doctors said she needed a lot of support from school but she never got it. I gave them a letter that said she was very weak and couldn’t focus. Now she doesn’t want to go to school any more or even eat and drink. Other students are doing retakes but Highgate haven’t taken her illness into account at all and now her dreams are shattered.”

Somiya is applying for other  colleges. But with term starting next week, she still faces being turned away for her “borderline” results.

Her mother said: “She proved  everyone wrong with her results and got three Cs and two Bs. She was crying before she opened the envelope, she didn’t want to look. The school have sent an email saying good luck to her… but it’s just cruel. They had teachers crying with her and now she is being forced out.” Somiya said her condition made it nearly impossible to concentrate during her exam but she was only offered extra time by the school.

She said: “I could barely hold a pen, my hand was shaking so much during the exam and I had to take medication. I started crying as soon as it was over… it’s my future that’s at stake.”

Highgate Wood headmaster Patrick Cozier said: “We have a great deal of regard and care for Somiya and want the very best for her… Unfortunately we are clear it would not be in her best interests to embark on a course of study she will be unable to cope with.” He added that Somiya received “extensive support” during the examination period, but her grades “are too far from the level needed to be able to succeed at A- level.”

Parents are threatening legal action after claiming pupils who failed to get top AS-levels grades were asked to leave before their final A-level year at St Olave’s grammar in Bromley.


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