The son of a Bangladeshi immigrant from one of the country’s poorest areas is to follow in the footsteps of Princes William and Harry after winning a prestigious place at Eton.
Kaashif Kamaly, 15, will swap impoverished Forest Gate in the East End of London for the hallowed halls of the world-famous public school after winning a two-year £76,000 scholarship.
He will rub shoulders with the elite when he takes his place at the Windsor school to study A-level Maths, Chemistry, English Literature, Biology and History next September.
Kaashif, who has an older brother, Ihtisham 21, and a younger sister Tasneem, nine, is looking forward to going to Eton but insists he won’t forget his roots.
He added: “My family have struggled their entire life to make a better future for me and my siblings. I am a product of that environment. I haven’t known privilege like many of the pupils at Eton.
“I have this extraordinary opportunity that I will grab with both hands but it won’t change who I am and where I have come from, nor would I want it to.”
Kaashif credits his immigration officer dad, Shah who works despite a disability, for instilling the work ethic that has helped him succeed.
He added: “My dad has a lot of injuries, shattered knee and slipped disc, but has instilled moral and ethics that you have to work, you have to pay your way in the world.
“He crosses London every day to work at Heathrow airport to work as an immigration officer. He is always at work trying to make life better for his family. He is my hero.”
Kaashif currently attends Forest Gate Community School, where despite over two thirds of pupils being classed as disadvantaged (free school meals), the school is rated Ofsted Outstanding, was ranked 14th best in the country for GCSE results and this year won the Evening Standard Best School in Challenging Circumstances award.
He is predicted A* in all his GCSEs.
Disadvantaged pupils at the school also get better results at GCSE exams than non-disadvantaged pupils do nationally.
Kaashif added: “Eton is a fantastic school, probably the best in the country, but what the teachers have helped me achieve at Forest Gate Community School is even bigger.
“The pupils at Eton are sons of Kings and Queens, Lords and Judges. In this area, there are many, many social problems.
“Gangs, drugs, crime, poverty, these are common issues in Newham. Teachers won’t have had to help pupils at Eton deal with that.”
Eton, founded by Henry VI in 1440, has produced a host of leading public figures, including the former Prime Minster David Cameron and Home Secretary Boris Johnson Prime Minister.
Other well-known Old Etonians include cultural figures such as Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Orwell, Hugh Laurie and Damian Lewis.
“It is much harder to help someone make something of themselves coming from this background than it will be at top independent schools. The journey we have to take is much harder and longer.
“That doesn’t make me feel intimidated. Instead it has built a fire inside me. It just means I have to worker harder, work longer.
“It doesn’t bother me. It is something I have had to do my entire life. It is no struggle. What my dad has had to do to make a good life for his family, that is struggle.”
He is now studying at the School of African and Oriental Studies.
Kaashif added: “When I saw Ishak do it I thought for the first time in my life, I could do something like that. I feel like that was the moment something changed in a lot of pupils at this school.
“All of sudden we started to believe that the things that we thought were out of our reach were not.
Headteacher Simon Elliott said: “Something has happened at this school that even as headteacher is difficult to quantify.
“We have students now who despite coming from one of the poorest areas in the country have the same belief as pupils at top independent schools, that nothing is out of their reach.
“This is the kind of success we believe should and could be replicated at other schools with a similar profile to ours. Background should be no barrier to belief and ultimately success. We have proved that.”
Kaashif’s mum was born in Bangladesh. His dad was born in the UK but returned to Bangladesh to be educated. He moved back to London after to school to work.
Because his father works the family are not eligible for pupil premium money but are said come from a low socio economic background.
He has received a 100 per cent scholarship to Eton which means the family meet a low-income threshold.
His dad works as an immigration officer at Heathrow Airport. He checks the credentials of would be immigrants to the UK.
None of Kaashif’s family have ever been to university.