Former teen terror transformed his life to win student award
A SCHOOLBOY who went from being a young tearaway on the verge of exclusion to becoming a star student has scooped an award for turning his life around.
Paul Coates, aged 15, from Wolstanton, is now on course to leave The Cooperative Academy At Brownhills, in Tunstall, with a series of GCSEs next year.
And he has also set his sights on earning a black belt in karate after taking up the sport to help him control his emotions.
Paul was last night presented with the 'above and beyond' trophy by Tunstall Rotary Club in recognition of his achievements.
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He was nominated by staff at his school, who have described him as an inspiration to other teenagers.
Paul said: "I feel dead proud to win it. Going to Brownhills gave me a fresh start and I've had lots of help and support.
"It's down to the school that I've got this award."
His problems came to a head when he was 11 years old and was placed in foster care.
Paul was just about to start secondary education, and soon found himself in trouble at Clayton Hall Business and Language College, in Clayton.
He said: "I was getting into arguments and they didn't know how to control me. I was going through a hard time."
His foster parents, Dave Howard and Hannah Haney, asked if he could transfer to the school in Tunstall, which was known as Brownhills Maths and Computing College at the time.
School staff carefully planned his move, and he was also invited to a summer club.
Vice-principal Sue Wilson said: "He joined us in year seven and did have an anger issue.
"But we have worked closely with Hannah and Dave over the last few years and Paul has really improved. He is now a star pupil."
Paul has also found karate has enabled him to channel his energy into something positive after school. He trains at GKR Karate Club, in Wolstanton.
He said: "I've been doing karate for about four years and go there twice a week. It has helped me to control my temper and has also given me more confidence."
His foster family are also delighted with the transformation in his behaviour and outlook on life.
Dave recalled: "We used to get phone calls at 9am from his old primary school asking if we could pick him up and bring him back home."
But now the only contact they have with his teachers is because of his excellent progress.
Hannah said: "We are extremely proud of how well he's done."
Paul, who is taking his English GCSE a year early, is still undecided about what he wants to aim for as a career, although he has considered joining the police.
The annual above and beyond awards scheme was launched by Tunstall Rotary Club five years ago to recognise the success of young people from across the area.
Claire Marchant, youth opportunities officer for the rotary club, said: "Paul has turned his life around and is now turning up at school every day.
"The school nominated him because they wanted his achievements to be recognised."
The teenager was presented with the trophy during an awards dinner at The George Hotel, in Burslem. He will be able to keep it for a year until it is passed on to next year's award recipient.