Nelson & Colne College: Boat Race Challenge Finishers

 Gifted and talented students from Pendle’s six secondary schools have celebrated completing Nelson and Colne College’s aspiration-raising Boat Race Challenge.

The 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 life at Russell Group universities, including Oxbridge.

Through the programme, students have taken part in everything from a University Challenge quiz to a STEM challenge testing particular Science, Technology Engineering and Maths skills. The group has also enjoyed a residential trip to the University of Oxford where they delivered a presentation in front of a packed lecture theatre on a year-long research project. To conclude, the students completed a speed interview session with some of the College’s governors, staff and employer partners.

At the celebration evening, students, family and school representatives enjoyed a canapé reception before a selection of the students presented their research projects again. A question and answer session was also held on their experiences through the programme and the evening finished with a certificate presentation.

Ishaa Hussain, 15, from Colne Primet Academy, said:

“I’ve loved the programme – it has really improved my confidence. I think the Oxford trip was a great opportunity to meet new people and it was brilliant experience.

I would really like to study International Law at a top university and I want to come to Nelson and Colne College and study A Levels in Business, English Literature and Sociology.”

Alan Hanson, 15, from West Craven High School, is hoping to progress on to NCC and study Biology, Computer Science and History A Levels. He said:

“I’ve really enjoyed the programme as it has helped me to become more organised and it has also improved my logical thinking. I think the Oxford trip was the highlight of the programme. I’m keeping my options open in terms of a university but I’m definitely considering Oxbridge.

If I have one top tip for future students on the programme it would be to start thinking about your research project now. Get all your ideas together and then narrow it down to the topic that you are really passionate about.”

Halima Ayub, 16, from Marsden Heights Community College, is looking forward to studying A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and English Literature at NCC. She said:

“It has been a really inspirational programme and I feel I have grown so much by completing it.

I think the skill I have developed most is my time-management but I think it has also helped me understand who I am as a person, and what I can go on to achieve and be in life.”

Nelson and Colne College’s Assistant Principal for Academic Curriculum, Fionnuala Swann, said:

“I would like to congratulate all of the students completing the Boat Race Challenge. It’s a really tough process as students are part of a dozen selected from their respective year groups in Year 8, and that is then halved to six at a selection day at Nelson and Colne College held every June.

However, it is ultimately an incredibly rewarding programme, and I’m delighted to hear the students enthusing so much about it when they reflect on the three years.

It has been integral in developing skills in research, communication, teamwork, confidence, writing, and presentation. It is also very useful in opening eyes and altering mindsets to encourage students to look at the top universities and give them the belief that they will be successful at these institutions, including Oxbridge.

The ‘graduates’ in 2019 are the second cohort of students to complete the programme, and I look forward to 2020 when it will grow further with students from Burnley and the Ribble Valley completing it for the first time.”

A Year 8, 9 and 10 Open Event will take place at Nelson and Colne College on Tuesday 30 April from 5.30 pm until 7.30 pm. This is a great chance to learn more about the college’s provision and extracurricular offer, to tour the campus and its high-tech facilities, as well as meet expert tutors and members of the Careers Team. Visitors can also take part in a range of exciting ‘have a go’ activities.

Nelson and Colne College is the number one college in the country for 16-18 learner achievement and 16-18 timely Apprenticeship achievement. The college is also number one in Lancashire for A Levels and vocational courses, based on progress scores, and is the leading FE College in the country for GCSE Mathematics progress and second nationally for English progress.

For more information about Nelson and Colne College contact 01282 440272 or visit


Like our work? Support us!

You can support our work within the community and the development of our community website, social media pages & groups by making a donation to us.

Follow Us: Pinterest 
About Naz Alam 293 Articles
Naz is well known in the local community as a photo journalist. He is group creator for 'Colne Talk' - a Facebook Community Group which has approx 20K members. He also runs multiple Facebook pages for the local community & local business, such as 'Visit Colne'.