Brainbox Thomas gets top marks possible in physics GCSE ... aged 11!

Thomas (left) and Ellie with their certificates
Thomas (left) and Ellie with their certificates
Share this article

You might think that Thomas Barnes is a little young to have firm ambitions about working on the large hadron collider in Switzerland.


But this is no ordinary 11-year-old.

In fact the Leigh youngster is thought to have just become the youngest person ever to gain the highest possible grade in GCSE physics.

The home-schooled boy from Atherleigh popped along to Westleigh High (where he sat the exam) the other day to discover that he had scored a 9 in the subject (higher than the old A*).

And it didn’t come as too much of a surprise in a family of brainboxes, for at the age of just seven he became the youngest person in England ever to get an A* in any GCSE when he clinched the top grade in maths.

Last year he gained the same mathematics grade at A-level, will take further maths this year and hopes to sit his physics A-level the year after - although he will need the services of a school as important practical elements have been latterly introduced.

Thomas’s seven-year-old sister Ellie is no slouch at exams either, having just picked up her grade 6 (equivalent to an old B) in GCSE maths too. She plans to re-sit the exam next year in the hope of gaining a 9 and eventually wants to be a doctor.

Parents Simon and Angela, who work in accountancy and customer support respectively, say they are very proud of their children’s achievements and stress that they have just given them the opportunities to learn and stretch themselves rather than push them unreasonably.

Simon, 45, said: “We could see from early on that Thomas was showing abilities.

“When he was two we bought a phonics fridge magnet toy with letters you could push to spell words and he loved playing with it.

“Then Angela was due to go back to work after maternity leave but was made redundant so she stayed at home and further helped Thomas so that he was reading well by three.

“It came to our looking at nurseries and we discovered that they were teaching the kids to read and Thomas could already do that.

“There didn’t seem much point in sending him, and the same issue arose when it came to picking a primary school the next year.

“I was a bit ahead of the educational curve and my parents insisted I went to school.

“I’ve felt that that wasted a bit of my potential and I didn’t want the same thing to happen to Thomas or Ellie.”

Thomas’s maths roared on ahead after Angela picked up an intermediate level maths book from a charity shop with the intention of its being used in future years only to find her son devouring it straight away, and soon he was getting through key stages 2 and 3 maths with ease.

Simon now works virtually part-time and from home in Atherleigh and has schooled the pair more recently, making sure they cover all the curriculum subjects for their ages and it works out that they are usually done by lunchtime and they have the rest of the day to themselves.

Asked whether he felt his children were missing out socially, Simon said that both have friends and, from his own experiences as a boy, he found that when at school children are either in class or sticking with the same small
groups.

Thomas’s ultimate ambition is to work on the large hadron collider in Switzerland and is keen to crack on with more qualifications.

He attended the Manchester Science Festival a few years back as a member of the audience and so impressed the Bolton University hosts that most recently he has been giving his own presentations there alongside undergraduates and has been invited to attend maths lectures at the university.

How fast his education progresses from now in might be out of his hands.

Some universities do not accept students under the age of 16 and he will need the services of a school for the 12 practical elements of his physics A-level.

Simon says Ellie is showing much ability of her own but more on the creative side of education and he wants her to do her own thing rather than simply follow in her older brother’s footsteps.