Oxbridge dreams for high-flying students in Spalding and Bourne

Spalding Grammar School Year 13 students 'James Rhodes, Robert Collison, Tom Birdseye and Calvin Wilson who could all be heading to Oxford or Cambridge University in the autumn.''Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG200117-106TW.
Spalding Grammar School Year 13 students 'James Rhodes, Robert Collison, Tom Birdseye and Calvin Wilson who could all be heading to Oxford or Cambridge University in the autumn.''Photo by Tim Wilson. SG200117-106TW.
  • Fabulous five set for degree courses at top universities after rigorous selection process
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Five talented students at schools in Spalding and Bourne are on course for places at the UK’s top universities this autumn.

Four Year 13 boys at Spalding Grammar School, Tom Birdseye (18), Robert Collison (17), James Rhodes and Calvin Wilson (both 18), could be heading to Oxford or Cambridge University in September.

All that stands between them and the university of their dreams are months of revision ahead of their A-level exams this summer.

Robert, who has an offer from Hertford College, Oxford, to study biological sciences, said: “It was a very long process which started off last summer after getting our AS and GCSE results.

“We realised that we were in a position to apply for Oxford or Cambridge and then started to build our personal statements, with our exam results on them.”

James, who has a place to study computer science at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, said: “Before being put on a shortlist, our AS grades were assessed and then we were told that we were being put forward for interview.

Bourne Academy deputy head boy Ben Jagger (right) with executive head teacher Laurence Reilly.  Photo supplied.

Bourne Academy deputy head boy Ben Jagger (right) with executive head teacher Laurence Reilly. Photo supplied.

“The four of us had between one and three days where we were stayed at the colleges during our interviews, before having a long wait to find out that we’d been given an offer.”

Tom, Head Boy at Spalding Grammar School, said: “My parents were very pleased when I found out that I’d been offered a place at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, to study geography.

“It’s a mixture of feelings when you’re told, firstly relief, then you want to be happy for yourself until it dawns on you how much work there is to do.”

Calvin, who has a place at The Queen’s College, Oxford, to study chemistry, said: “Our friends are quite happy for us, even though there’s a certain amount of teasing as well.

It’s a mixture of feelings when you’re told that you’ve been offered a place at Oxford or Cambridge - you want to be happy for yourself until it dawns on you how much work there is to do

Tom Birdseye, Head Boy, Spalding Grammar School

“But you just handle it and carry on.”

Robert said: “It’s difficult to find a balance between my studies and other interests, but it is possible.

“We’ve all made a certain amount of sacrifices in doing our schoolwork, but we’ll be putting in even more effort now.”

Headmaster Steven Wilkinson said: “I am delighted for Tom, Robert, James and Calvin who have all worked hard and succeeded in a very competitive process.

“Last year we had two offers and this year we have doubled the number so, as Headmaster, that makes me very proud.

“I am also grateful to those members of staff who have supported the students with their applications and who will continue to support them as they work towards securing the required grades.”

Meanwhile, Bourne Academy deputy head boy Ben Jagger (18) has become the first student in the school’s history to be offered a place at Oxford University.

Ben, who is set to attend St Anne’s College, Oxford, to study materials science, said: “Although I am the first person from Bourne Academy to be offered a place at the University of Oxford, I am sure that I won’t be the last.

“I would like to thank the teachers and support staff at Bourne Academy who have been very supportive and helped me with all areas of my application.

“I would recommend to anyone who is predicted to earn high grades in their A-levels to have the confidence to apply to one of the top universities because it is important to aim as high as you can.

“I have shown that you don’t have to go to a selective school to be successful.’

Ben, who passed the physics entrance exam at St Anne’s College with one of the highest marks amongst this year’s students, is predicted to achieve straight As in his maths, physics, chemistry and further maths A-Level exams this summer.

Laurence Reilly, executive head teacher at Bourne Academy, said: “We are all very proud of Ben’s achievements as he is a very popular student who always has a smile on his face.

“Ben is very proud of the school, especially as he is the latest member of his family to excel here after his mother Dr Judith Jagger did so before.”

Dr Jagger, who teaches science at the school and is in charge of its more able programme, and her husband Steven said: “We are very grateful for all the support Ben has received from Bourne Academy during the preparation for his application to Oxford University, the Physics Aptitude Test and the interviews.

“Teachers have given up their time to help him prepare for the exam and mock interviews have been arranged with Helen Pollard from the Institute of Physics.

“The school even had to register as an exam centre for the test so that Ben could sit it in school with the minimum of stress.

“We hope that other able students at non-selective schools in Lincolnshire will realise that this should not be a barrier to aspiring to earn places at top universities.

“The important thing is to try as you always regret opportunities that you did not take.”