A pupil who learned sign language in order to care for her parents has picked up top GCSE grades.

With both parents being deaf, Epping St John pupil Lucy Gallagher – as the oldest of three siblings – cares for them at home in Broadley Common, near Epping.

When she was a child the now 16-year-old split her time between home, where she picked up sign language, and her grandparents’ home, to learn to talk.

Now she helps where she can by translating telephone calls and appointments.

Managing to juggle the pressures of home with her studies, Miss Gallagher collected three grade 8s, five grade 7s, a 6 and a B grade in her GCSEs.

She said: “Every day, there are little bits I help my parents with. Whenever I can help, I do.

“Sometimes, it could be hard to balance school and home. But, the school held lots of revision sessions, so I stayed behind to focus on my work, which really helped me to concentrate.

"Then, when I got home, I could focus purely on my parents.

“I am so happy with my results. I cannot believe it; I didn’t think they were my results! I was not expecting that.”

She is heading to The London Academy of Excellence in Stratford, which she found out about through a young carer support group, to study biology, chemistry, maths and economics.

Having done her work experience at a school for deaf children, she is keen to train as a special needs teacher.