Stockton boy, Ben Ashton, is looking forward to the trip of a lifetime to study in the US, thanks to the backing of charitable foundation, The Sutton Trust, after beating off stiff competition from 1000 other eligible applicants in a rigorous application process.

The Sutton Trust is a charitable foundation which exists to promote social mobility through research and intervention programmes.  Around 150 of the brightest sixth formers in the UK, from low or middle income families – many are likely to be the first in their family to go to university – spend one week, all expenses paid, experiencing life at a US Ivy League university and are supported in making an application to study at university in the US in the future. In previous years the programme has been held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University or Harvard.

Ben, an outstanding student, who is now studying for A-levels at Stockton Sixth Form College, formerly studied at The Grangefield Academy, which is sponsored by the Northern Education Trust.  While there he obtained impressive GCSE results – eight A* grades and 4 As – and was heavily involved in the wider life of the school, taking part in charity events as well as sitting on the prom committee. In fact, he attended so many holiday sessions and additional booster sessions that over his last five months at the academy, he only had Saturdays and Sundays off from school.

As Grangefield principal, Nikki Gibb says, he is the type of student that all teachers hope they get to teach at some point in their careers.  She went on:  “He was inquisitive, driven and completely determined to succeed to the best of his abilities.  He has even been to Grangefield several times since he left to support some of our key stage 3 classes, which is a great way to raise aspiration with some of our younger students.  We are absolutely delighted for him to have been awarded a place on what is the Sutton Trust’s flagship programme.  He is a most deserving student.”

At Stockton Sixth Form College Ben is also making his mark.   Studying A-levels in chemistry, physics and maths, he has taken part in National Citizen Service and is really excited to be studying in the US with other sixth formers from around the UK.

Joanna Bailey, principal of Prior Pursglove and Stockton Sixth Form College, is the sixth form colleges’ representative on the Sutton Trust national education advisory group.  She commented:

“I have a strong interest in promoting social mobility and it is wonderful news that the college has facilitated such a life-changing opportunity for an exceptional student.  The fact that he was formerly a star pupil at The Grangefield Academy, where I am a governor, makes this success even more gratifying as the academy and the college seek to work in ever closer partnership.”

An excited Ben added:  “This is a dream come true.  I can hardly believe it.  I have always wanted to go to the US but did not expect to get there for a long time yet.  It is an amazing opportunity and I cannot thank Stockton Sixth Form College and the Sutton Trust enough for all the support and encouragement they have given me.

“I intend to take advantage of this trip to the full.  I have already made some great friends through the application process and expect my week in America to be absolutely life changing.  I feel very fortunate to have been selected.”