Pupil who spoke no English secures Cambridge place

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The Independent Online

A Chinese schoolgirl who spoke no English when she came to the UK secured a place at Cambridge University today.

Tong Zhao, 18, will go to Trinity College in October to study law after she gained the requisite three A grades at A-level.

Tong, a pupil at Sacred Heart High School in Fenham, Newcastle, said she spoke "not a word at all" of English when her family moved here in 2001 from Fushun, China.

"It's been pretty tough since the beginning but now it's getting better," she said.

"I had to start from scratch."

The star student, who lives in Fenham, gained As in maths, biology and music and a B in English literature, as well as an A in further maths AS-level.

Michael Cousins, assistant headteacher at Sacred Heart, said Tong needed only three lessons in further maths to achieve the top grade and was also a "brilliant" violinist and pianist.

"When she came over she really spoke no English whatsoever," he added.

"It's amazing what she has contributed to the life of the school."