She spends her spare time in a similar way to many other ten-year-old girls – playing with Barbie dolls and making loom bands. But the key difference between Esther Okade and other children her age is that she has been accepted to study for a university maths degree – despite not going to school.
Esther, from Walsall, West Midlands, has enrolled on an Open University course months after she passed her A-levels – and wants to study for a PhD before running her own bank.
The girl, who gained a C grade in her maths GCSE aged six, has joined the course which started this month. Her younger brother Isiah is already studying for his A-levels – also aged six.
The siblings are both home-schooled by their mother Omonefe, who has converted the living room of their semi-detached, three-bedroom house into a makeshift classroom.
Mathematician Mrs Okade, 37, said: ‘Esther is doing so well. She took a test recently and scored 100 per cent. Applying to the university was an interesting process because of her age.
‘We even had to talk to the vice-chancellor. After they interviewed her they realised that this has been her idea from the beginning. From the age of seven Esther has wanted to go to university.
‘But I was afraid it was too soon. She would say, “Mum, when am I starting?”, and go on and on and on. Finally, after three years she told me, “Mum, I think it is about time I started university now”.’
Mrs Okade added that Esther – who will study for her degree at home – was ‘flying’ and ‘so happy’ when she was accepted by the university, and wants to be a millionaire.
She said: ‘For now we want her to enjoy her childhood as well as her maths. By the time she was four I had taught her the alphabet, her numbers, and how to add, subtract, multiply and division.
‘I saw that she loved patterns so developed a way of using that to teach her new things. I thought I would try her with algebra, and she loved it more than anything.’
Esther stunned her parents last year when she achieved a B grade in her pure maths A-level.
She applied to the Open University last August – and after a phone interview, an essay and an exam, she was told in December that she had been accepted onto the course.
Her father Paul, 42, a managing director, added: ‘I cannot tell you how happy and proud I am as a father. The desire of every parent is to see their children exceed them, and take the family name to great heights, and my children have done just that.’