Two Homewood students with special reasons to celebrate arriving at university

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News - 12 October

The first few weeks at university are always a special and exciting time for each year’s freshers, but it is particularly thrilling for two former Homewood students.

19-year old Liam Macmillan has been looking forward to taking up his place to study English at Cambridge since he received his A level results in the Summer, achieving straight A*s.

Liam is the second Homewood student to win an Oxbridge place in consecutive years, following in the footsteps of former student Isabel Burns who successfully battled the authorities in 2020 to take up her Cambridge place after the algorithm scandal.

In addition to his A*s in English Literature, Drama & Theatre Studies and Fine Art, Liam also received an A* for his Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) where he wrote, printed, stitched and bound his own novella as an artefact submission. Set in a historical context, the novella explored currently relevant themes of slavery, racial prejudice, companionship and sexual orientation.

20-year old Omar Alsalih is both excited and thankful to be taking up a place at Brighton University to fulfil his dream of studying for a foundation in architecture. Syrian-born Omar arrived in Kent from Jordan as a refugee in 2017, aged 16, with his parents and four siblings, under the UK resettlement scheme. 

When he arrived, Omar had no more than one or two words of English and had missed almost five years of schooling due to the need for him to work from the age of 12 to help to financially support his family.

Thanks to the transformative teaching and strong EAFL support at Homewood, Omar was able to gain a number of GCSEs, Maths AS Level, Level 3 certificate in Finance plus A level Ceramics, and to successfully apply to university.

A bursary funded by a group of barristers in London, donated through the Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees initiative, has provided the financial support that ensured Omar could afford to take up his well-deserved place.

Omar’s interest in architecture began completely by chance when he started a GCSE Ceramics course at Homewood.

“What inspired me was how much thought was required to plan and design beautiful miniature houses to ensure they remained structurally strong,” said Omar.

“In addition, the practical nature of creating something by hand from a design and the ability to see the finished piece of work held great appeal as well as the beauty of designing and matching the house to its surroundings.

“In the future, I would like to be able to design and build unique houses that are both environmentally friendly and structurally sound – initially here in the UK, but one day I want to go back to Syria to help in the rebuilding process there.”

Omar’s younger brother and sister are amongst a number of refugee children from Syria currently studying at Homewood.

“Liam and Omar’s fantastic achievements are testament to the breadth and depth of the high quality of education that Homewood has to offer, enabling each and every student to reach their true potential,” said Homewood Principal Jeremy Single. “I wish them both, and all our 2021 leavers, the very best of luck as they start out on their university and college journeys. They have all come through a difficult 18-months of hurdles and uncertainty so I hope that they can now enjoy a successful transition to this exciting stage of their lives.”