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Ashby School teenager Katie Jones wins £40,000 university tuition fees


A teenager has won a competition to have her university fees of almost £40,000 paid for her over the next four years.

Ashby School pupil Katie Jones had been unsure whether she would be able to afford higher education because of the costs involved.

However, thanks to the prize from pharmaceutical supplier Ashfield In2Focus, her dream of studying at university can come true.

The firm, in the town, asked students at the school to take part in a series of The Apprentice-style tasks to compete for a cash prize.

However, the pupils did not know how much was at stake.

Katie, 17, was given the news at an awards ceremony at the school on Monday.

"I'm completely in shock and still coming to terms with it," she said.

"It feels like an absolute dream. When I entered the competition, I had no idea this was the prize.

"We were told there would be some money if we won, but nothing like this.

"Now I know I can definitely apply to university, it means everything."

Katie is planning to go to Loughborough University to study theatre and hopes to become a special educational needs teacher.

"I've always wanted to work with special educational needs children," she said.

The teenager entered Ashfield In2Focus's Aspire competition in March.

She had to complete several team-building exercises, three gruelling interviews – including one with the chief executive of the firm – and a personality test which determined her strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest and most satisfying element of the challenge, she said, was a charity project, in which she helped organise a variety show at the school to raise money for Wishes 4 Kids.

The gig raised £330 for the Leicester charity, which grants wishes to seriously ill youngsters.

Katie said: "We started out with nothing and had to get a lot of people involved in putting on the show.

"It took a lot of time and effort but it was really successful. I was very proud of that.

"I found the personality tests really interesting. It made me realise that I'm a quiet person and I needed to speak up more if I want to get my thoughts across."

Maths teacher Sam Blatherwick, who helped the firm arrange the competition, said: "Initially, only a small number of students entered the competition.

"We were deliberately vague about the details and out of 300 students in year 12 who were eligible, only 11 came forward.

"I'm incredibly proud of all of them for the efforts they made."

Ashby School head teacher Eddie Green said: "This is a fabulous prize for any student, at a time when most are faced with crippling debts going to university.

"We're extremely grateful to the company for offering this fantastic opportunity."

Ashfield In2Focus operations manager Elaine Neil said it was a closely fought contest.

She said: "We were delighted to be involved in the project and would like to congratulate all of the students who took part, especially Katie who won this fantastic prize."

Ashby School teenager Katie Jones wins £40,000 university tuition fees

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