Family & Education

The nine-year-old who sat — and passed — a GCSE

Jewish primary school pupil Rafi Ashkenazi-Bakes found a way to take his exam this summer


One pupil who did actually get to sit a GCSE exam this year was Rafi Ashkenazi-Bakes.

And that was not the only unusual thing. The Hertsmere Jewish Day School student is just nine.

He secured a top grade 5 in his foundation maths GCSE, averaging over 90 per cent (grades 6 to 9 are only available in the higher-level course).

His mother Lily, who tutored him during lockdown, said, “Instead of sitting three papers in an exam hall, he had a two-hour viva, and then two hour-and-a half papers which he did online at home. They had a camera to see what he was writing — so he was invigilated online.”

When the government cancelled exams in March and said it would use teacher grades instead, that posed a problem because Rafi would not be taking his exam at a school.

“It was all a bit fraught,” Mrs Ashkenazi- Bakes said. “If he hadn’t been able to take the exam, it would have been annoying but not the end of the world. ”

So they had to find a centre still planning to run exams. One would not accept him because they considered him too young. Finally, a centre in south London gave the go-ahead. “We were very lucky,” she said.

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