An inspirational Evening of Celebration to mark another successful year of the Scholars Programme run by Villiers Park in Swindon, 90 students in Years 10 to 13, attending six local schools and colleges, were awarded a Gold Standard for their determination to achieve specific goals as well as demonstrating educational progress, achievement and excellence.
From the Gold Standard recipients twelve students were shortlisted for the prestigious Mike Baker Scholar of the Year Award* which recognises and rewards those Scholars that have demonstrated exemplary attainment, attitude, manners, contribution, attendance and progress during the academic year. Three Scholars from each year group were shortlisted and on the night, in front of friends and family, the ‘and the winner is … ‘ announcements were made by Louise Baker (daughter of Mike Baker*).
The Year 10 Award went to Holly Snowdon of The Commonweal School who was nominated for her maturity, commitment and enthusiasm, and for motivating and inspiring others.
Kate Rayment of Lydiard Park Academy received the Year 11 Award for her attendance and contributions during events as well as her ambitions to study at a leading university. On receiving the award she said: “I’m really grateful as not many people get this opportunity. The University Masterclasses have been the best part of the programme so far as I didn’t know anything about university before. I’m looking forward to the next two years in the programme.”
For Year 12 the Award was presented to Mark Crasto, St Joseph’s Catholic College, for his dedicated approach to his education, and his focus and drive to reach his full potential. He commented: “The people involved in the programme are really kind and caring. It made me really think about university, something I never would have done otherwise.”
The Year 13 Award went to Bethany George, Cirencester College, for her initiative, resilience and determination to pursue her goal of studying medicine. She added: “I really appreciate this unique opportunity and it’s helped me reach my full potential. Everyone is really kind, and it’s made a massive difference to my education.”
The local Programme Manager, Learning Mentors and Jeremy Reynolds, Scholars Programme Director, also spoke during the evening. Jeremy said: “We are delighted that the Scholars Programme is having such a positive impact on the aspirations and attainment of young people in Swindon. This event is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the progress that our Scholars have made.”
The Scholars Programme, part of Villiers Park Educational Trust’s commitment to improve social mobility in the UK, is now coming to the end of its sixth year in Swindon, working with able students from less advantaged backgrounds at St Joseph’s Catholic College, Lydiard Park Academy, Churchfields Academy, The Commonweal School, New College and Cirencester College.
The Programme provides ongoing, comprehensive support for Scholars during a free four year programme that runs from Year 10 to Year 13 and aims to raise the attainment and aspirations of the students and give them the skills (both academic and personal) to enable them to gain places at leading universities or other centres of excellence and to thrive once there.
The Celebration Event marked the graduation of the third intake of Year 10 students in 2011 and was a very proud moment for the Scholars, their families, their schools and also for the Villiers Park Team.
• Mike Baker was a TV and radio broadcaster, educational journalist, conference moderator, media trainer and Villiers Park Educational Trust trustee. Following his untimely death in 2012, the Mike Baker Memorial Fund was launched. During discussion with Mike’s widow Chrissy it was decided that some of the fund should be used to recognise and reward those Scholars that have demonstrated exemplary attainment, attitude, manners, contribution, attendance and progress during this academic year.
Top, Louise Baker presents certificates to three of the four Mike Baker Scholars of the Year, from left, Kate Rayment of Lydiard Park Academy, Bethany George of Cirencester College and Mark Crasto, St Joseph’s Catholic College. Below, Ms Baker with Holly Snowden of Commonweal School. Below, Photos: Richard Wintle of Calyx