An Abergele student has won a top science award after competing against hundreds of teenagers around the UK in an online challenge.

Alex Dry, who is aiming to become a surgeon, has landed a bronze medal in the Society of Biology Challenge awards  – the highest placing  ever for any Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan pupil in the contest.

To make it the best-performing year for Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan in the challenge, 11 of the school’s biology students achieved a highly commended award while 10 more were handed a commended award.

The competition, open to pupils in Years 9 and 10, aims to encourage an interest in biology beyond the curriculum and stimulate curiosity in the natural world.

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan’s curriculum leader for biology Gemma Dale  said the on-line competition tested students on the school curriculum and rewarded pupils whose knowledge of the subject has been increased through books, magazines and natural history TV programmes.

She said: “The Challenge consists of two 30 minutes papers, which can be taken together or separately. As a school we have participated in the Challenge for a number of years and have always had students achieve an award but never anything higher than commended.

“And we have only previously achieved four commended awards in a single year before so to achieve 10 commended, and 11 highly commended, alongside Alex’s bronze award is absolutely amazing. I’m delighted and very proud of their efforts.”

She added: “Our pupils were up against a great many students from schools across the UK. So to do as well as they have is absolutely amazing, and shows how they have applied themselves and worked exceptionally hard.

“It’s great both for the school and the students themselves. I find that pupils, given the opportunity, will shine and I couldn’t be more delighted nor proud of them all.”

Bronze award winning Alex, of Abergele, who has ambitions of a career in medicine, says he was thrilled to achieve a bronze award and says Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan has given him the opportunity to excel.

The 14-year-old said: “My family are delighted and so am I. The on-line tests had a lot to do with the curriculum but also tested your general biology knowledge. It was interesting but really quite hard.

“I do have a lot of interest in the subject and want to be a surgeon in years to come. I am currently working toward my silver award as part of the British Science Association’s CREST awards. I already gained my bronze award for a research project I completed on colour blindness.”

He added: “The main thing is if you are going to excel and do well at any subject you need good teachers who will support you as well as encourage and push you. The teaching at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan is good and I do feel I’m getting the best out of my education.”

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan Year 9 pupils Ffion Walker, 14, of Abergele, and Hagar Herencia, 14, of St Asaph both landed highly commended awards in the Society of Biology Challenge.

Ffion said: “I really enjoyed the Challenge and was delighted to find I had been highly commended. It wasn’t just about what we do in school. You needed to have a really good general knowledge about biology to do well.

“I am interested in the natural world and enjoy biology. The lessons are hard work but fun and the teaching is really good. I feel I am always encouraged to do well.”

Hagar added: “It’s amazing to have achieved a highly commended award and I am really pleased as are my family. It was hard work but a really good challenge and I’m so pleased that so many Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan pupils achieved high scores.

“Biology is a really enjoyable subject and I find it really interesting. I hope to take the challenge again next year, in Year 10, and do even better. It would be wonderful to get an even higher award.”

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan head teacher Lee Cummins said: “I am very proud of how the learners have done in the Society of Biology Challenge awards, and I congratulate each of them on their success.

“I would also like to thank Miss Dale and the rest of the science team for their hard work in supporting the learners in this challenge.

“Our ethos is to encourage learners to achieve the very best that they can and our motto Dare to Achieve summarises. We are committed to build on this, year on year, to ensure Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan is the best school in Wales in all areas.”

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan, which dates back to 1899, has more than 1,100 learners with 140 teaching and support staff. In summer 2014 it had its best ever set of exam results.