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Forest Gate teenager dreams of Oxford University after winning £76,000 scholarship

Forest Gate Community schoolboy Irfan Badshah. Forest Gate Community schoolboy Irfan Badshah.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
7:00 AM

A teenager has won a £76,000, two-year scholarship to attend one of Britain’s most prestigious independent schools.

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Irfan Badshah, 15, will swap Newham for the hallowed halls of Winchester College when he takes his place to at the elite sixth-form next September

The son of an Indian immigrant factory worker will rub shoulders with the cream of the crop when studying politics, history, English and philosophy. The youngster won the £76,000 two-year scholarship after attending a series of residential interviews in the last two weeks.

He puts his success down to an encouragement from teachers at Forest Gate Community School in Forest Gate.

Irfan, who reads two books a week and already has two A-stars at GCSE, said: “The head teacher here gave me the first proper book to read- John Pilger’s Heroes.

He said: “It was only then that I became interested in academics. Other teachers have also had a big influence by giving me books to read.”

Irfan also credits extra tuition for winning his scholarship.

The youngster, who lives in a council flat in Forest Gate with eight siblings, has now set his sights on a place at Oxford and a career in politics.

He said: “I would like to go to Oxford. It is the foremost university in the world. Then politics. I am very interested in foreign policy.

“I believe there should be positive discrimination for working class people.

“Most politicians come from privilege. We need people from the background I have come from in positions of power.”

On going to Winchester, he said: “It is going to change my life considerably. I know that. To speak to people with power, if you live here in East London, it is very difficult.

Simon Elliot head of Forest Gate Community School said: “Irfan is one of several gifted students we have here.

“We have pushed him to overcome the barriers so he can feel confident when applying to these institutions.”

Irfan’s dress maker mum Shehlaz, 45, said: “I am so proud of my son. I hope this will help him on his way to more success.”

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