Sporting opportunities at Thorp Academy

Thorp Academy, which is sponsored by the Northern Education Trust, has officially launched an exciting new sports scholarship programme for students. The Academy is building on its finest ever GCSE results in 2016 by heading into a brand new era in style.

Nick Gillingham
Gary Bennett

The Elite Performer Programme (EPP) offers a unique opportunity for young talented athletes to develop their sporting skills to a high level while continuing to follow their academic studies in a supportive and caring community. The first batch of scholars have already been enrolled and will receive a range of benefits after being identified as possessing fantastic sporting potential.The academy has already recruited several sporting stars to provide expert sessions to students in their specific sport, such as European Tour golfer Graeme Storm, who recently won the South Africa Open, Olympic medalist swimmer Nick Gillingham, former Sunderland footballers Gary Bennett, Julio Arca and Kieron Brady and ex-Middlesbrough defender Dean Gordon.There will also be strong links to Durham County Cricket Club and Durham County Rugby Union.

Thorp student and rugby player Jake Boyle, who is heading over to Newcastle Falcons after impressive spells at county and club level said, “It’s great to be involved in the programme, it has boosted my confidence as an individual.

Dean Gordon

“I’m hoping to progress both academically and in sport while I am on the scheme. It will really help develop me as a player but also as a confident learner, it’s very exciting.”

More scholars will be added to the scheme in the months ahead, with current Year 6’s invited to apply for a place on the programme.

Danny Evans, the coordinator of the Elite Performer Programme at Thorp, said: “The new sports scholarship programme is an exciting opportunity for students to advance their sporting achievements while ensuring they reach their maximum academic potential.

“We want the initial group of scholars to inspire others to push on to get on to the EPP themselves. It is important that everyone sees a pathway to progress, develop and inspire on a fantastic new scheme at Thorp Academy.”

Thorp’s fantastic EPP has been launched ahead of September’s fresh intake, when students can celebrate moving into a new state-of-the-art school building, aiming to excel in their specialised sport.

The programme is also established at another Northern Education Trust academy, Dyke House Sports & Technology College in Hartlepool, where it has produced many success stories such as student Joshua Egan, British Gymnastics finalist along with Isabelle Maiden and Nick Bridgman who rowed their way into regional finals earlier this year.  Ian Kershaw, Chief Executive of the Northern Education Trust added;

“We have already seen great success of this programme at Dyke House and it is integral to us as a trust to provide the opportunities for our students to maximise their individual talents and skills whilst attaining high academic standards.

“We would also like to thank all local sporting partners for their involvement and for helping us continuously provide a wealth of opportunities for our students.”


(Top row from left to right) Gary Bennett, Graeme Storm, executive principal Andrew Jordon. (Bottom row) Nick Gillingham -with Thorp Elite students