Some of Pendle’s most gifted and talented young people have become the first students to complete an aspiration raising programme with Nelson and Colne College.

The Boat Race Challenge is a unique three year training programme, designed by NCC to stretch the abilities of young learners from Year 9 onwards with the aim of preparing them for College life and reaching Oxbridge and Russell Group universities.

Through the programme, students from each of Pendle’s secondary schools have taken part in the diverse range of tasks from a University Challenge type quiz through to a STEM challenge testing particular Science, Technology Engineering and Maths skills.

The group has also enjoyed an inspiring residential trip to the University of Oxford and completed a speed dating session with NCC’s Oxbridge candidates and employer partners to develop further communication skills.

The first cohort of students have now completed the programme and they were invited to a celebration event held at NCC in recognition of their efforts. After a canapé reception, a selection of students presented results of their research projects and a question and answer panel session was held on their experiences through the programme. The evening was rounded off with a certificate presentation and photographs with family and friends.

Nabeel Shah, 16, from Pendle Vale College, who is hoping to progress on to NCC to Study A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Psychology, said: “The programme has definitely developed my skills. In particular, my confidence has grown and my speaking skills have improved. I’m a better communicator now as before I was quite shy.

“It has also opened my eyes to what is possible. In the future I think I would like to do something in Medicine.”

Niamh Ward, 16, from Marsden Heights Community College is also looking ahead to A Levels at NCC in English Language, English Literature and Media Studies before potentially pursuing a career in Journalism.

She said: “The biggest change for me is my increased confidence. The programme has also allowed me to meet lots of new people, make new friends and my social skills have improved because of this.”

Park High School’s Adam Martin, 16, said: “I’ve really enjoyed completing the Boat Race Challenge. My confidence has developed so much – when it comes to presentations of my material it’s not as scary as it used to be!

“The trip to Oxford was definitely the best part. I liked the experience while I was there and Oxbridge is on my radar now.

“I’m really looking forward to coming to Nelson and Colne College and doing A Levels in Geography, Physics, Maths and Further Maths – I thought the offer was very good.”

This year, the programme expanded to include secondary schools from Burnley and the Ribble Valley areas, enhancing the chances and prospects of more of East Lancashire’s able and talented young people.

Vice Principal of Nelson and Colne College Paul Britton said: “It has been truly wonderful to see over the course of three years the development and progression of some of Pendle’s brightest stars of the future, and I’m absolutely delighted that this year we have been able to expand the programme’s offer to include even more of East Lancashire’s young people.

“It was clear to see at the celebration event how much value the Boat Race Challenge has added to them as individuals and it was extremely pleasing to learn that many are looking at Russell Group universities including Oxbridge as destinations after College. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the programme evolves in the future and the results it delivers.”

In its 2016/17 results, NCC achieved a 99.7% pass rate at A Level and a 100% pass rate in vocational courses. The college is top in the country for 16-18 learner achievement at all levels, number one in the country for A Levels, based on progress scores, and the number one college in the country for overall Apprenticeship achievement at all ages and levels. One in five of NCC’s 2016/17 leavers progressed on to a Russell Group university.

Government data also places NCC as the best college in the area for vocational courses, based on progress scores, while it is also the best college in Lancashire for student satisfaction, according to the FE Choices Learner Satisfaction Survey.

For more information on Nelson and Colne College visit or contact the Admissions Team on 01282 440272.