A NINE-year-old boy is celebrating after gaining an A* in GCSE maths – despite being seven years younger than most other children taking the exam.
James Griffith was able to count above 250 just after starting nursery, and did most of a GCSE paper at five.
The youngster from Musselburgh, East Lothian, took the GCSE – the English equivalent of National 5 – alongside secondary students at Loretto School just before the summer holidays.
He was quietly confident about the exam but never expected to gain an astonishing 97% in his results.
Proud parents Susan and David said they first noticed the youngster’s interest in maths when he was just three.
David, who is a doctor, said: “When he was in nursery he taught himself to count. The other children were trying to get to ten and he got to 255.
“That’s when we realised he was particularly gifted at maths, though we never pushed him to do anything he wasn’t keen on.
“It was onwards and upwards from there.”
As he grew older, James’ skill continued to amaze his parents.
When he was just five he found a GCSE exam paper which they had downloaded to try themselves, and finished two thirds of it.
He also learned all of his times tables over one weekend, and it has become a running joke who can “attempt” to help him with his homework.
With the guidance of Loretto’s teaching staff, James joined a class with the year group studying for their GCSE maths earlier this year.
Their lessons included statistics, algebra and trigonometry – all of which James picked up with ease.
Originally, there were no plans for him to take the actual exam.
Susan, who is training to be a primary school teacher, said: “The school decided to put him in the class to give him the experience and challenge but there were no plans for James to sit the exam.
“He took part in the mock exams, however, and got an A* so it was agreed to let him sit the main one.
“James loved the work and the challenge, he likes solving problems and working with numbers.
“There are times when he leaves us completely speechless.”
She insists that he inherited his maths talent from his dad David, though she also gained an A* at GCSE maths when she was 16.
James said: “I don’t want to say who is better at maths, but I think mummy is.
“My favourite part is solving puzzles. I found the exam fine because I did two terms of revision.
“I also like ICT and science, and I really like playing computer games too.”
James completed the Primary Maths Challenge last year – an event which saw 79,000 children take part.
He won a gold medal – a high accolade only awarded to the top 50 pupils.
He also takes part in Mathematical Olympiads and has won gold certificates in the event.
This year, he is planning to study for the International GCSE maths as the next step up in the subject.
James also has a musical side, and has passed his grade 2 piano exam and grade 1 cello exam.
Despite his talents, David insists his son is just a “normal boy” who likes to play with his friends and be around people.
“We’re just happy that he is happy,” he said. “We’re delighted for him, obviously, for doing so well in the exam.
“He’s a pretty good all-rounder – he’s taken us all by surprise.”