Jake Brown, one of our Sutton Scholars, has won a UCL award for ‘best effort’. The UCL Student Ambassadors judged that he and three other students had made the biggest contribution to this year’s summer school. Jake was also part of a group who won the ‘best university society’, as judged by students.

Jake was accepted on the Sutton Scholars programme after a strong recommendation from his teacher at Francis Combe Academy in Watford, as well as excellent grades. He met several of the social mobility criteria for the programme; Jake’s mother is medically retired, he is on free school meals, lives in a low progression post-code area and is a young carer. However, Jake has high ambitions for the future.

“Times have been tougher than ever before in the last few years, and I am extremely proud of Jake for getting through,” said Hayley Brown, Jake’s mother. “In summer 2014, we were forced out of our house through no fault of our own with only five suitcases. We ended up staying in five accommodations over the year, which were unsafe and in high-crime areas. When Jake started on the programme last year, we had managed to secure council accommodation, but we literally had no amenities.”

“In my earlier days,” Hayley added, “I was a gymnast on the national team. I trained in Russia where I learnt that life is about what you take with you. Despite the troubles, I promised my children I would try my best to keep life relatively normal. The Sutton Scholars programme has allowed Jake to take part in new and exciting opportunities.

“He started the course in October last year after his school principal, Mrs Warwick, spotted the outstanding opportunity to join Sutton Scholars. He has since won awards for ‘best effort’ and ‘best contribution’. He ended up giving a speech to around 200 people whilst on the programme. Seeing him in such an iconic place makes me feel so proud of how far we have come.”

UCL Student Ambassador, Daniel, said: “Young and full of charisma, right from day one Jake stood out with his enthusiasm and desire to learn. It was an honour to have worked with Jake, as he was always polite and inquisitive as well as the fact that he often had me laughing from his cracking sense of humour.

“He was extremely proactive and his sense of leadership was second nature, as he was the brains behind the UCL ‘Come Dine With Me’ pitch, and alongside his team members executed their proposal effortlessly. It would be an understatement to say Jake is going to go places in life.”

Sutton Scholars supports gifted young students by providing early intervention. Each programme lasts for a minimum of two years and allows students to find out what university is all about, visit the campus, try out subjects and make well-informed decisions about their future education. Piloting in 2013, the programme now runs at five leading universities and enrols 640 new students each year.

Research has shown that by age 15 some high achieving students have already fallen behind and do not go on to meet their potential.