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Newham teen wins scholarship at Britain’s prestigious Eton

NO EXCUSES: Ishak Ayiris said hard work and determination secured his place within Eton’s hallowed halls

THE SON of an Ethiopian immigrant who won a coveted place at Eton said he wants to challenge the stereotype that it is a school where black students would not feel at home.

Ishak Ayiris, 15, from Newham, east London, won a two-year scholarship worth £76,000 to Eton, and will study A-level politics, philosophy and economics, starting in September.

The prestigious 15th Century school has produced 19 prime ministers, including David Cameron, as well as Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Ayiris said: “I am excited, over the moon that I got the scholarship. It’s something that will definitely change my life, but it won’t change my values.

“Even now it seems like a dream; you are going to a school that is in a completely different environment and surroundings.”

Ayiris currently attends Forest Gate Community School, in Newham, where he is one of 40 per cent supported by the ‘pupil premium’, which provides extra investment for hard-up students.


However, coming from a borough plagued with inner city challenges such as crime and deprivation has not stopped the youngster who hopes to study at Oxford from dreaming big.

He said: “I guess it’s something that is incumbent upon every student who comes from a poor or working class background to succeed.”

He cited civil rights activist Malcolm X as an example of someone who had come “from the lowest of American society”, excelled and then “went back to help his people and guide them.”

PRESTIGIOUS: The 15th Century school has produced 19 prime ministers, such as David Cameron

Simon Elliott, headteacher at Forest Gate Community School, spoke highly of Ayiris. He described the astute student as being “a very well behaved polite young man.”

He continued: “Ishak is a keen student. Myself and my deputy have taken a lot of time out to engage him in debate and he has developed his political views and is reading books that are way beyond his age group and he is really a role model for students in the school.

“As head, I feel really proud because it shows we can have real successes from this school and I hope others will follow in his footsteps.”

However the teenager, who is passionate about current affairs, said moving to Windsor, in Berkshire, will prove much harder for his family.

He said: “My parents are really excited and overwhelmed by what’s happened and happy for what will happen to me in the future.”

Until then, Ayiris said he would continue working hard and get the best grades that he could.

“Winning my place at Eton has nothing to do with the fact that I come from an immigrant background. It’s down to my success, hard work and determination that I got there and nothing else.”

He added: “Ethnic minorities should attempt to go to these colleges and change the stereotypes if there are any.”

Ayiris will join Bertram Silvera, another talented black student who won an academic and drama scholarship to Eton in 2012.

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