A programme to help pave the way for Hartlepool youngsters in higher education has been hailed as it marks its first anniversary.
The Aspirations Programme, created by Dyke House Sports and Technology College in Hartlepool is already making huge progress in helping young students aspire for a successful career.
To mark the anniversary, a celebratory event was held at Durham University’s Hatfield College, to reflect on the successful first year.
The programme focuses on the students who are most able but least likely to go onto higher education and provides opportunities and support to raise their aspirations and achievements.
Co-ordinator Sally Holt, a former graduate of St Chad’s College, organised and spoke at the event.
She said: “We work with pupils, forging coherent progressing pathways which enable them to compete with their privately educated and advantaged peers.
“In a society where the most vulnerable are 55 times less likely to progress to Oxbridge, compared to their independent school peers and in an area with one of the greatest progression gaps in the country, our pupils cannot imagine a future career path, for they do not know the opportunities available to them.
“It is the vision of the Aspirations Programme to imagine for our students - to imagine for them. By converting that imagination into action, that truly is power.”
The programme has already had two success stories with former Dyke House pupil Beth Scott and current pupil Charlotte Bradley.
Beth, who is due to start studying medicine at Newcastle University said: “I have been able to develop a much wider variety of skills that I wouldn’t have had access to without the programme. Visiting different universities really inspired me to want to be part of it – hence my ambition to go to medical school.”
Charlotte also spoke highly of the programme, saying: “I’ve had the opportunity to visit so many different universities and learnt so much about topics I never even knew existed. I would love to get a place at Durham University to study a law course and go onto become a lawyer.”
The event was introduced by Professor Anthony Bash, Vice Master of Hatfield College. He said: “I have always believed that by investing in one or two, we can reach the many. It’s evident that educational disadvantage is not faceless at Dyke House and the programme is determined to pursue its vision to see every child maximise their potential.
Head of Dyke House College, Andrew Murphy added: “It is only when this truly occurs that students will have the opportunity to be the leaders of the future.”