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17 July 2012
Top students recognised at Academy Excellence Awards

Outstanding students from across the country were recognised at the Academy Excellence Awards, sponsored by the David Ross Foundation and held at The University of Nottingham.

The Awards – which celebrate the academic achievements of students aged 16-19 – saw entries from more than 300 Academies across England in response to questions set by Nottingham academics.

David Ross (Law 1987), Chairman of the David Ross Foundation and Co-chair of Impact:The Nottingham Campaign, has already committed £2.1 million to support Nottingham Potential,  a multi-million pound commitment to break down the barriers to higher education and a key project under the Nurturing Talent theme of the University’s Campaign.

The Team Award went to five students from the King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, in Birmingham – who won a week-long trip to Malaysia.

Amanpreet Nandhra, Merunisa Nazam, Shazia Jehan, Iffat Ahmad and Hajrah Zafar will visit The University of Nottingham’s campus in Malaysia, and spend a week finding out about life, culture and study in south-east Asia. As winners they also received a cash prize of £1,000 each.

Schools Minister Lord Hill said: “The winners of the Academy Excellence Awards should be very proud of their achievements. They have shown real talent and passion in their subjects and will no doubt go on to do great things.

“As more and more schools become Academies, I look forward to more taking part in this competition in the coming years.”

Before the awards ceremony, the 84 shortlisted students attended an Inspiration Day run in partnership with The University of Nottingham, where they took part in workshops on business and enterprise skills. They also met with University student ambassadors for a morning of university master classes and tours of the campus.

Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, said: “In establishing the Academy Excellence Awards, the David Ross Foundation showed real vision. It is an excellent way of encouraging students to stretch themselves. The ceremony itself was a great celebration of accomplishment enjoyed by all. I am already looking forward to next year’s event.”

‘Stand-up mathematician’ Matt Parker, who was a member of the judging panel and compered the awards ceremony, said: “The Academy Excellence Awards Inspiration Day and Awards Dinner were both a terrific success; and well done to all of the shortlisted students who were invited to attend.

“Special congratulations go to the winners and runners-up, whose work has demonstrated not only a high level of academic excellence, but also creativity and original thought. We wish them the best of luck as they embark on their fantastic internships, and hope that these will provide valuable insights into the world of work.”

A dozen individual winners were selected for excellence in particular subject areas, and will enjoy ‘money can’t buy’ work experience placements with one of the Awards’ sponsors or partners: the National Portrait Gallery, Alliance Boots, GlaxoSmithKline, British Sugar, Grant Thornton Associates, The Old Vic Theatre, Vodafone Foundation, Sotheby’s, Northgate Managed Services, Dawn Capital, Ashurst LLP, the Royal College of Music and The University of Nottingham. All the winners also received a £1,000 cash prize.

The winning students were announced at an event on the University’s campus on July 4th

  • Team award: Amanpreet Nandhra, Merunisa Nazam, Shazia Jehan, Iffat Ahmad and Hajrah Zafar, Year 12, KEVI Camp Hill School for Girls
  • Art: Jack Templeman, Year 12, Bishop Wordsworth’s Grammar School
  • Biology: Joy Aston, Year 13, KEVI Camp Hill School for Girls
  • Chemistry: Aaron Page, Year 12, Highcliffe School
  • Design & Technology: Emma Carter, Year 12, Invicta Grammar School
  • Economics: Benn Cowell, Year 12, Darwen Aldridge Community Academy
  • English: Katriana Johnes, Year 12, Lancaster Girls' Grammar School
  • Geography: Sophie Logue, Year 13, Southend High School for Boys
  • History: Alice Pickthall, Year 12, Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School
  • Mathematics: Kayleigh Higgins, Year 11, Walton Girls’ High School
  • Music: Aaron Collins-Wood, Year 12, Garforth Academy
  • Physics: Ann Sebastian, Year 12, The Tiffin Girls' School
  • Politics: Joseph Trail, Year 13, Landau Forte College

The individual winners were selected by VIP judges Sandy Nairne, Professor Alice Roberts, Dr Chris Smith, Emily Cummins, Evan Davis, Susie Dent, Kate Humble, Dr Sam Willis, Matt Parker, Jamie Cullum, Dr Lucie Green and Jon Sopel, who assessed their essays with a panel of subject specialists and selected the winners and runners up from the hundreds of submissions received earlier this year.

The winner in the Team category was decided by an on-the-day presentation to a group of academics from The University of Nottingham.

The University’s Malaysia Campus, near to the national capital Kuala Lumpur, was established in 2000 and was the first fully operational overseas branch campus to be opened by a British institution. It now has 4,400 students from more than 50 countries.

The University of Nottingham also has a campus in Ningbo, China, which hosted the winners of the inaugural Academy Excellence Awards last year – a team from the Tudor Grange Academy in Solihull.

Tudor Grange Academy student Haroon Ahmed, 16, said of his first visit to China: “I have been planning to pursue a career in medicine, but after visiting China and seeing how many different opportunities there are available for people I have realised there are many other career options — particularly in business.”

Emily Beech, 16, who plans a career in law, said that she is now contemplating studying at The University of Nottingham in order to take advantage of the exchange opportunities between the global campuses.

“The people are very nice and the environment is great at Nottingham’s university in Ningbo. It looks like a great place to study. The campus is absolutely lovely. I like the idea of having the opportunity to study in other countries during my degree programme,” she said.

The theme of the 2012 Academy Excellence Awards was ‘Well-being and quality of life’, with essay questions set by experts at The University of Nottingham. The questions were intended to stretch and challenge students, requiring them to demonstrate their creativity and imagination and give them a taste of the lateral thinking required in higher education.


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