A sixth form student from Peterlee has won a highly acclaimed OxNet essay prize in Philosophy and World Religions Studies.

OxNet is an education access programme designed to help more students from state schools gain access to Oxford, Cambridge and Russell Group universities.

Hollie Akers, who attends St Bede’s Catholic Comprehensive School & Byron Sixth Form College, part of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, was one of six Year 12 students from St Bede’s to be accepted onto the prestigious course.

Each year, students from across the UK competitively enter the OxNet programme where they submit an essay to secure a place. As well as being offered a place on the course, Hollie’s essay was also judged to be the best essay entry in her course category.

Martin Old, St Bede’s OxNet coordinator said: “Not only were a quarter of the OxNet places won by our school out of the 25 places available for the North East, but one of our students – Hollie – has excelled even further by winning the prize essay for Philosophy and World Religions Studies.

“Hollie coming out top is not just a reflection of her own achievements but also demonstrates the quality and depth of the education we provide here at St Bede’s, from Year 7 through to Year 13, the end of Sixth Form.

“Hollie’s award represents our commitment to ensuring our students are given the best level of education and provided with the very best of opportunities throughout their entire school journey. Well done, Hollie.”

Hollie’s winning essay will be published on the OxNet website and she will receive £50 worth of books related to the university degree that she chooses to apply for.

Felix Slade, OxNet national co-ordinator and Philosophy lecturer at Pembroke College, Oxford said: “To say that I’m delighted for Hollie is an understatement. She has performed magnificently in a national competition and deserves to be highly commended for her achievement.”

The OxNet course is in its tenth year and is a highly competitive scheme with only around 40% of applicants successful. St. Bede’s Catholic Comprehensive School & Byron Sixth Form College is the most successful OxNet school in the Northern region which covers the area between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Leeds.

Hollie Akers, 17, said: “I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to take part. To actually win is such an amazing achievement that I’m very proud of.

“I’ve learnt several new essay writing skills and had a taster into various topics around philosophical thinking.

“I’m excited to see where this achievement will lead me – hopefully it will help to open up many doors in the future.”

For more information about Byron Sixth Form College, which is still accepting places to start in September 2021, please visit: https://www.st-bedes.durham.sch.uk/byron-sixth-form-college/

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