THE emotional parents of a hard-working teenager with autism celebrated their son smashing expectations at his GCSEs.

Ben Bicknell from Penhill hopes to one day study genetics and help find cures for cancers like the one that killed his grandfather in February.

His mum Stacey wept as she said: "We thought that losing my dad earlier this year would be a big barrier for him but he's done so well. We know his grandad is looking down on us and smiling.

"I'm over the moon and extremely proud of Ben. There have been times in his education where we didn't think we would get here but we have.

"His English grades were borderline-failing at the start of the year but the teacher's interventions and extra lessons helped so much. I've never known teachers to be so passionate."

Ben spent the last four years at Swindon Academy after moving secondary schools. He bagged four grade eights, three grade sixes, a distinction* grade in music and a distinction in drama.

He said: "It was mixed emotions - I was nervous, excited and worried, then when I opened the envelope, it was crazy, oh my God, I couldn't believe it.

"I'm really really happy overall - I was hoping for a nine or two but beggars can't be choosers!

"None of this would have been possible without the teachers at this school. The support they have given me is incredible. They've helped me grow academically and as a person, it's amazing.

"I'm hoping to stay on at sixth form then do a genetics course at university to help find a cure for cancer and Alzheimer's and all the diseases that plague this world."

Stacey added: "He's very focused and knows exactly what he wants to do, he's amazing."

His dad Andy said: "He's put in all the hard work and gone beyond expectations. The environment that principal Miss Robinson has created at this school is great, the teachers care so much about the students doing well and instil in them how to be the best people they can be.

"With the encouragement of the staff and the hard work of the students, the unachievable can be achieved."