Pensioner and boy, 10, gain passes as more records fall

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A boy from an independent school yesterday scored a remarkable nine grade As at A-level as sixth-formers throughout the country celebrated record-breaking scores.

A boy from an independent school yesterday scored a remarkable nine grade As at A-level as sixth-formers throughout the country celebrated record-breaking scores.

Thomas Barnet-Lamb, a pupil at Westminster School in London, recorded the success in chemistry, economics, electronics, history, physics, maths, pure maths, mechanics and statistics and also secured an AS level in philosophy.

He is going to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read maths. Tristram Jones-Parry, the head of Westminster, said: "We were absolutely certain that he would get A grades. He took the exams completely in his stride.

"He didn't work all the time. He also debated and sang very well. It is rather frightening."

In Bedfordshire, a boy of 10 achieved a B grade in maths after attending adult education classes for two evenings a week for a year with people between the ages of 20 and 40 at Luton Sixth Form College.

Adam Spencer, from Arlesey, Bedfordshire, was taken on by the college after other colleges had turned him down because of his age. He said: "I was actually hoping for an A but I'm very pleased with a B." He is now at Samuel Whitbread High School in Shefford studying for his GCSEs.

His father Paul Spencer, who restores antique china, said: "We knew he was gifted when he was able to recite the alphabet when he was 18 months old. Neither of us is mathematical so it's a God-given gift. It certainly isn't in the genes."

In Finchley, London, a 12-year-old, Sameer Sanghvi, achieved a grade C in computing. He studied at the private Ryde College in Watford.

He said: "I've always liked computers and I think it's really good to do exams early because you can retake them if you fail."

At the other end of the scale, a pensioner who left school at 15 with no qualifications passed his 27th A-level, a grade A in film studies.

Terry Tyacke, aged 74, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, said: "I can't stop... it's like a drug and I'm addicted." He has taken one exam each year since he was 46. "They say you should not revise close to the exam but I do because I cannot retain the stuff like the youngsters."

Schools reported dozens of pupils achieving five or six grade As. Mark Galtrey, from Woolton, Liverpool, who attends Merchant Taylors' School, gained five grade As in maths, further maths, physics, chemistry and general studies and was one of the top five of all candidates in all five of his subjects. He has a choral scholarship and is going to read natural sciences at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Alexa and Kate Simpson of St George's School, Harpenden also scored top grades in physics, chemistry, biology, maths and further maths and an A in AS general studies.

The two girls, at the state day and boarding school, applied to the same Cambridge college to do medicine but were both unsuccessful.

Norman Hoare, the headteacher of St George's, said: "As a state school with an average of six applicants and three to four successes each year we find it hard to understand why our best don't get through. I don't accept that it is because we are in the maintained sector - the plain facts are that there are too many bright youngsters chasing the best places.

"The girls have more than satisfied the academic requirements to read medicine at a prestigious university and are now considering reapplying next year."

Justin Saunder, who suffered massive head injuries two years ago when a youth beat him with a hockey stick, passed two A-levels. The results mean he can go on to study virtual reality and programming.

Prince William, who is going to St Andrews University, Scotland, to study history of art, gained an A grade in geography, a B in history of art and a C in biology. The standard offer for a place on the history of art course at the university is B, B, C.