Student who lived in a caravan achieves top grades

A STUDENT who studied for A-levels while living in a caravan with no running water has achieved the top grades she needs to follow her dream of working as an art gallery curator.

Ripon Grammar School student Mia Barnett, 18, who shared the caravan with her younger sister while her family renovated a derelict farmhouse, doing most of the work themselves, has achieved two A*s, a B and a C to win a place at the University of Edinburgh to study fine art.

“I’m absolutely delighted and can’t wait to go to Edinburgh now,” said Mia, who, along with her sister Lily shovelled muck, stripped roof tiles, ripped out carpets and kitchen units and shifted countless wheelbarrows full of rubble during the renovation work on the uninhabitable 17th century building in Hunton, near Bedale. The pair also had to have showers and use a toilet in a garden shed.

“I’m incredibly proud of her, whatever her results,” said her mother, Susan. “She’s kind, hardworking and very resilient. Mia’s glass is always half full.”

While the renovations to the farm are still ongoing, the family has now moved indoors: “It’s meant living on a building site at times and out of boxes, as well as having to help with aspects of the renovation,” said Mia.

Susan added: “The place was entirely derelict with only cows having lived in the building for at least six years before we took it on. We did the lion’s share of the work ourselves and Mia and Lily really did get stuck in and graft in very uncomfortable circumstances, but it was definitely worth it.”

Mia, who studied art, English and history in addition to taking an extended project qualification, also juggled her studies with a waitressing job.

The talented artist had two of her works selected for a prestigious London exhibition after entering a competition. She was also a finalist in a New College of the Humanities art history essay competition.

Of the 149 students sitting A-levels at RGS, 82.5% achieved grades A-B and 56.3% grades A*-A, with 98 A* grades in total. The top-performing student, Ben Statham, 18, from outside Ripon, achieved five A* grades, with six students achieving four A*s.