ABLE, gifted and talented Year Eight students have been put through their paces to earn themselves a place on a unique three-year training programme.

Set up by Nelson and Colne College, in partnership with five Pendle secondary schools, the Boat Race Challenge is a programme designed to challenge and develop students and help them progress to top universities.


Students from Colne Primet Academy, Pendle Vale College, Colne Park High School, Marsden Heights Community College and West Craven High School attended a selection day where they took part in activities, including a Dragon’s Den-style presentation and team building, leadership and problem-solving exercises.

Ten students from each school attended the fun-filled event, and at the end of the day each group was whittled down to six – meaning 30 students are now officially enrolled on the programme.

Nelson and Colne College assistant principal Paul Britton said: “This three-year programme will start when students are in Year Nine and will include inter-school competitions, challenges, research projects and more.

“We have seen really able students at the selection day, and we are looking forward to helping them develop their skills in a competitive environment.”

Plans for the programme so far include engaging successful students with an activity a term, an autumn term University Challenge Quiz, and an overnight stay to Oxford and Cambridge. Each student will also be allocated a mentor as part of the programme.

Colne Primet Academy student Esther Calleja,13, who successfully made it onto the Boat Race Challenge programme, said: “The selection day was exciting. I am hopeful it will prepare me for university in the future.”

Esther’s head teacher Lynne Blomley said: “This innovative programme is a fantastic opportunity for Pendle schools to work in partnership with an outstanding local college and give their able, gifted and talented students a real head-start in securing places at the most competitive universities in the country.

Pendle Vale College’s learning leader Amy Jenkinson said: “We are hopeful this programme will build aspiration and encourage students to think about their future earlier.”