Villiers Scholar Liam on Growing Up Gifted

Now in its third series, Growing Up Gifted shines a spotlight on the challenges faced by talented young people from less-advantaged backgrounds.
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In Episode 1, first aired on Wednesday 25 March 2020, we find Liam, formerly a Scholar on our Tyneside programme, preparing for - and taking - his GCSEs.

“Students from these types of backgrounds find it very difficult to fulfill their potential,” says one of Liam’s teachers. “We presume that the brightest pupils in the school are the ones that won’t be stressed during exam time; but no, it affects them the most. It’s that pressure, because if you don’t do it, you feel like you’ve failed.”

Liam started out wanting to be a chef, but a school trip to visit a university medical course in Year 9 set him on course to study medicine - ideally at Cambridge. But questions about his work ethic at start of Year 11 have thrown doubt on his ability to get the grades he needs for college.

In the programme, Liam says, “Doing well in my GCSE’s means so much to us. It determines what you’re going to do next in life.”

Produced by Blast! Films, Growing Up Gifted bring into sharp focus the difficulties of studying for potentially life-changing exams when money, physical space and other resources are in short supply. Liam’s mock exam results leave us wondering whether he’ll achieve the grades he needs to study science at A-level.

Thankfully, his determination to succeed nets him two A* and one A in the subjects he needs. Overall, his GCSE results put him in the top 4% of the year at his school - an outstanding achievement.

Liam is now studying science A-levels at Gateshead College: “I still want to be a doctor and go to university to do medicine. I think everyone has the capability to succeed, they just need to be able to see that in themselves. As long as you put in that work and effort, and the determination to succeed.”

Watch Growing Up Gifted Series 3, Episode 1

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