Two pupils who took part in a unique exchange project with the University of Oxford aimed at expanding their aspirations have won places at the prestigious establishment.
Thomas Jeffrey and Lewis Miller were among a group of 12 S3 pupils from across East Lothian’s six secondary schools who travelled to Exeter College in the summer of 2019 to experience the campus.
The project was established by former councillor Brian Small and his son Andrew, a doctoral student at the college, and is being run by East Lothian Works in partnership with the college.
It has since expanded to include a link-up with St. Benet’s College.
The original trip saw youngsters take part in a fully-funded week of learning and social activities at Exeter College undertaking a rigorous series of assessments as well as having access to mentors and tutorials.
Now in S6 at Preston Lodge High School, Prestonpans, Lewis, who has been offered the chance to study ancient and modern history at Christchurch College, said he would never have considered applying without the experience.
He said: “It made Oxford seem like a normal, achievable place for all of us. I don’t think I would have applied without it.”
Gavin Clark, Preston Lodge headteacher, said the school was delighted Lewis, who lives in Longniddry, has been offered a place at Oxford.
He said: “He has had a clear ambition to achieve that goal, having taken part in East Lothian Council’s Oxford Summer School in 2019, and he has worked hard to achieve this.
“Lewis is a great example of a student who sets his heart on something and then commits great energy to making it happen. Well done, Lewis.”
S6 student Thomas, from North Berwick High School, is planning to study politics, philosophy and economics at Corpus Christi College.
He said: “I wouldn’t have even thought of applying to such an institution had I not been told to apply for the programme in the first place and I really look forward to providing as much help and support as needed for future generations using the programme.”
Craig Stebbing, principal teacher of guidance at North Berwick, said: “We are delighted to have been part of Thomas’ journey to receiving his offer of a place at Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics.
“To study at Oxford has been a goal that Thomas’ has worked towards for many years with a passion and commitment that has been impressive. We wish him well in the future.”
The head of Exeter College, Professor Sir Rick Trainor said: “I am delighted to see that two pupils from the East Lothian and Exeter College study programme will soon commence undergraduate degrees at Oxford.
“Exeter is committed to encouraging more applications from groups under represented at Oxford, including students from Scotland, and Exeter’s study programme aims to do this by giving school pupils a taste of what studying at Oxford is like.
“It is wonderful that our partnership with East Lothian Council has already succeeded in encouraging talented young scholars from Scotland to apply to Oxford.
“I hope Lewis and Thomas are the first of many students who experience the study programme and then set their sights on studying at Oxford.”