AN 11-YEAR-OLD schoolboy from Newport described by his father as a maths prodigy has passed his GCSE maths exam five years early.
Maan Anwar Meher, who is in year six at St Andrews Junior School on Corporation Road, is an ordinary youngster who enjoys playing video games, but has a secret aptitude when it comes to maths, explained his father Qais Anwar.
"From childhood he was quite bright in maths and we helped him," said Mr Anwar, 54, who is currently studying postgraduate courses online as he cannot work due to ill health, while Maan's mother Farzana Nuzhat, 44, is taking a teaching course at the University of South Wales in Newport.
"His performance in other sciences including his knowledge in biology is exceptional.
"But recently we thought he wasn't getting enough challenges, he takes maths from granted and is losing his interest. So we encouraged him to take the exam."
Maan, who came to the UK four years ago with his family from Pakistan, was entered for the exam as a private student through the Bristol company 3AT Tutors.
"Ten days before the exam we requested a mock exam and they gave feedback," said Mr Anwar, who previously worked in London doing international development for charities in third world countries. "He got an A* in that."
But then two days before Maan was due to sit the real thing, the family were given the news that Maan's grandfather had died in Pakistan, someone Maan had been very attached to, said his father.
The family tried to keep the news from him but couldn't, he said. Maan sat the exam anyway and, according to his provisional result, passed with a C grade.
"We couldn't go [to Pakistan] and Maan has a very strong attachment to him," said Mr Anwar. "He knew he couldn't perform as he was expecting, otherwise he could very easily have got an A*. He was expecting 65 per cent whereas he got 45.
"But it's still great, we are proud of him for having a go," he said. "People know us through him, when his mum goes with him to school children recognise him and sometimes us as parents.
"Learning is definitely in the family environment, he sees [us] studying. Bassaleg have offered him a place and will keep giving him challenges. Maybe after three or four years he can sit the exam again."
Acting head teacher Lesley James said upon joining the school in year three, Maan was quickly identified as an able mathematician.
"Last year he was our overall school champion in both our spelling and times table competition," she said. "He's fortunate to have parents who have shown a keen interest in his 'all round' education and have encouraged him to take part in all the school activities on offer.
"We're very proud of his achievements and know this will stand him in good stead as he moves on to high school later this year. He is a shining example of the children we have in our school."