DISTINGUISHED Oxford institution St Edward’s School has teamed up with The Oxford Times to offer a once-in-a-lifetime prize to two passionate teenage pupils.

The private boarding school in Summertown, better known as Teddies, is offering a local girl and boy from state schools a free place as a day pupil in its sixth form, to study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

It is a stepping stone to success for families who would otherwise be unable to afford the price of tuition.

Current students studying the two-year programme have sung the praises of the IB at Teddies.

Each of the 17-year-olds who spoke to The Oxford Times were confident, eloquent and keen to succeed.

IB student Ilana Cope, from Summertown, joined from The Cherwell School nearby.

The keen hockey player said: “I had no idea what I wanted to do, I’m quite an all-rounder so thought it would be the best option.

“You don’t just do lots and lots of essays, you do presentations and have group conversations. What you learn will help later in life.”

For the creativity, activity, service (CAS) requirement of the course, Ilana and her friends raised funds and awareness for Cowley-based refugee charity Sanctuary Hosting.

Jack Verschoyle was among others who helped out at an Oxford charity for his CAS work, spending several of his Sundays working at Oxfam in Broad Street.

Central Oxford resident Jack, who is a day student, said: “It’s equally easy for me to be involved in school life as it is boarders.

“I don’t feel I miss out.”

Pippa Smith, also 17, joined as a boarder from her home in Spain.

She said: “The IB isn’t just about academic achievement.

“You become a much more open-minded and rounded person and gain so many skills from so many different areas.”

For their CAS project, Pippa’s group visited nearby Fairfield Residential Home, playing music and chatting to residents.

Pippa said there was ‘nothing snobby’ about Teddies and students do not differentiate between those from state and private backgrounds.

Fellow IB pupil Kitty Lloyd, from Warborough in South Oxfordshire, added: “It’s really inclusive here and you really feel a part of it.

“There are so many people from different backgrounds.

“It’s such a good atmosphere and it offers so much to do – you never get bored and you’re not just locked up in the library all day.

“It’s nice to get out and play music and sport.”

Her twin Flora Lloyd, who also studies the IB, added: “It helps you as a person to get to where you want to be and gives you opportunities to help you develop into that person.”