Gifted pupils across Pendle, Burnley and the Ribble Valley got a taste of life at the University of Oxford as part of Nelson and Colne College’s aspiration-raising Boat Race Challenge.

The Year 10 pupils from various schools were invited to complete a tour of the prestigious and stunning university, which sits alongside Cambridge University as the academic pinnacle in the UK.

And while there, they were invited to take to the lectern and share the findings of their own research project.

The Boat Race Challenge is a unique three-year training programme, designed by the College, to extend the natural abilities of gifted and talented young learners from Year 9 onwards.

It develops a wide range of skills within students that will serve them well in their academic studies at College, and for further learning at Russell Group universities, including Oxbridge.

Hayley Stewart, School Liaison Officer, said: “The Boat Race Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for talented youngsters to learn skills which will help them in their future studies and careers.

“Through the three-year programme, students take part in everything from a University Challenge quiz to a STEM challenge testing particular Science, Technology Engineering and Maths skills.

“The residential trip to the University of Oxford is a real highlight of the Challenge, where the students deliver a presentation in front of a packed lecture theatre on a year-long research project.

“They also got to meet former Marsden Heights pupil Niamh Ward who took part in the Challenge herself when at school and is now in her second year at Oxford studying English.”

The students then completed a speed interview session with some of the College’s governors, staff and employer partners, as well as taking part in a number of other activities, including a scavenger hunt, in the picturesque city.

Mr Boatwright from Colne Primet High School has witnessed just how inspirational the Boat Race Challenge has proved for his pupils.


He said: “The Boat Race Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for our students. The visit to Oxford provides inspiration and enables them to see the world outside of Lancashire.


“They have the chance to meet other students who have similar aspirations and they begin to appreciate that their limitations in terms of their education are actually non-existent – they can go anywhere they want and be anything they want to be.


“The students gain friendships, face challenges and develop self-confidence through the Boat Race Challenge. It is a brilliant experience, which they all speak glowingly about.”