Thursday, June 15th, 2017.

Former Excelsior Academy pupil Ryan Dornan has been offered a place to study at one of the world’s top universities.

Benwell-born Ryan, 18, is the first pupil from Excelsior to secure the chance to study at Oxford University after impressing alumni during an interview process.

Oxford University was rated the world’s top university for 2016-17 by the influential Times Higher Education World University Rankings for its outstanding teaching, research, citations and international outlook.

Ryan has a conditional offer to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics for three years at St Anne’s College at Oxford University from October.

Ryan will be one of more than 700 students at the college founded in 1879, with Fellows’ interests ranging across the Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Maths, Physical and Medical Sciences.

A pupil at Atkinson Road Primary Academy before joining Excelsior in 2010, Ryan was an outstanding student in Hadrian School for five years.

He left Excelsior with 4 A* and 5 A grades amongst his 12 GCSEs to take up a place at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh on a scholarship funded by Excelsior Academy sponsor Lord Laidlaw.

At Merchiston he has already secured an A* in A Level Maths and needs two more A passes in Further Maths, Government and Politics or Economics to go to Oxford.

“I’m fairly confident I can go there but not over confident,” said Ryan, who is in the middle of A Level exams in his second year at the exclusive Merchiston school.

“As long as I keep working hard I should be able to do it.” Ryan was also offered conditional places at Durham and Warwick universities and the London School of Economics, but plumped for Oxford after staying there for interviews convinced him it was the place for him.

“It’s beyond belief thinking about it, it just doesn’t seem real sometimes,” said Ryan, who has had a hugely positive response to his news.

“My family and friends were ecstatic – when I came back to Excelsior they said they couldn’t actually believe I was going to Oxford.

“I always enjoyed going to Excelsior, it was always very friendly compared to other schools, the teachers there really inspired my interest in politics by recommending me to read The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.”

Ryan recognises the support of Lord Laidlaw as crucial in his academic success. “Lord Laidlaw’s offer to come to Merchiston was absolutely fantastic and I don’t think I’d be going to Oxford without it,” he said.

“I don’t think I’d have had the confidence and strength behind me to push to apply – to go through the entrance exams, the business statements and interview route without the independence Merchiston gave me.”

Ryan still travels home from Edinburgh to Scotswood to see family and friends as often as he can.

His mother Lynn Turner said: “I was over the moon and so proud of him, he’s put in so much work to get there.

“He was totally gobsmacked to get into Oxford, but I was even proud of him just going to Merchiston.”

Craig Taylor, Excelsior Academy Executive Principal, said: “Ryan is our first ever pupil to be offered a place at either Oxford or Cambridge University and everyone is very proud of him.

“He is a role model for our students to follow. His success is so well deserved for the sheer amount of hard work he put in at Excelsior and how he has embraced the opportunity of studying at Merchiston.”

Looking to the future, Ryan’s dream is to enter politics after a post graduate scholarship in economics or politics in the United States at an Ivy League university.