A MAGNIFICENT seven are leading high performing students at a North East school in securing offers from the country's top universities.
The five boys and two girls from Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, are continuing the mixed ability, state secondary school's record for encouraging students to aspire to Oxbridge and then supporting them to secure firm offers.
Two of the students are not only the first in their families to go to university, but have also done it in style with offers from Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Joe Parkin, 18, of Whickham, who has an offer to read natural sciences at Cambridge, said: "My family are all very pleased but keep reminding me that I need to get the grades. I'm working hard to do the best I can."
James Knox, 17, of Windy Nook, who has been offered a place at Balliol College, Oxford, to read chemistry, added: "When I joined Emmanuel College I had no idea of even bothering to apply to Oxford but eventually I came to the realisation that people who went there weren't so academically different to me and that there was a possibility I could achieve a place."
Cameron Barker, 17, of Chester-le-Street, who is aiming to read maths at Queen's College, Oxford, said: "From Year 11 it became a possibility. It's not something that college forced on us or constantly reminded us about, but it was seen as achievable, a goal that you were encouraged to work towards if you had the potential."
Freddy Potts, who was Emmanuel's top performing boy at GCSE two years ago, was part of a leadership and management group who visited Oxford 18 months ago.
Freddy, 17, of Sunniside, said: "I fell in love with it as a city then and now I've got a place I'm really looking forward to being a student there."
Some of the students went through gruelling assessments before getting their place.
Sarah Burgess, 18, of Low Fell, had to send two essays and had two interviews to secure her place to study history at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, while Mary Winn, 18, of Lobley Hill, spent five days in Oxford having interviews with several colleges that were interested in her before receiving an offer to read English at Oriel College.
Now they have the offers, the students have to achieve a raft of A and A* grades this summer.
Pianist and saxophonist Benjamin Gorman, 18, of Bensham, who will read computer science at Oxford, said: "It's more pressure to have the offer but it's definitely given me even more motivation to work hard. I'm doing two-three hours of revision every night at the moment."
Dozens more students at Emmanuel College have conditional offers from other Russell Group universities including Leeds and Manchester, and Durham University.
Another student, Callum Jessop, will be starting at Cambridge University to read German in September after completing a gap year.
Assistant vice principal Mark Hall said: "We are naturally delighted to have so many students securing offers from leading universities.
"These are not just academically gifted students, they are wonderful young people with a range of interests and talents who will go on to give a huge amount to society. Our dedicated staff will continue to work beyond the call of duty to support them to turn these offers into reality."
Emmanuel College, which is in Consett Road, Gateshead, is holding an open evening for prospective sixth formers to join this September on Tuesday, February 10 at 7.30pm. For more information, contact Mr Hall on 0191 460 2099.