A Durham schoolgirl has set her sights on becoming a barrister after witnessing her mum being assaulted in their family home. 

Jorja Ross feels compelled to go into the line of work after witnessing an assault on her mother and is now one step closer to her dream after an academic scholarship transformed her life.

A collaborative partnership between Sunderland’s Castle View Enterprise Academy and Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation (DCSF) saw the teenager, from Castle Town, awarded a Sixth Form place at Durham School through its Burkitt Scholarship programme.

The Northern Echo: The Durham School buildingThe Durham School building (Image: DURHAM SCHOOL)

Now in Year 13 and preparing to sit four A Levels, Jorja has landed an interview at the University of Cambridge’s prestigious Faculty of Law and has already secured a conditional offer to read Law at Durham University.

She said: “I’m ecstatic; I never believed I’d be in this position and none of this would have been possible without the support and the opportunities I’ve been given.”

The 17-year-old knew instinctively that she wanted to become a lawyer after she and her two younger siblings, James and Chloe, witnessed a neighbour attack their mother in August 2018.

The perpetrator was handed a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay £20 in compensation.

The Northern Echo: Jorja RossJorja Ross (Image: DURHAM SCHOOL)

Jorja said: “I’ll never be able to stop crimes from taking place, so I want to help victims of crime and their families to achieve justice and move forward.

“While at Durham School I’ve developed so many new skills and I’ve gained the confidence to pursue my dreams.”

Jorja’s mother, Barbara Marshall, said her daughter’s life had been transformed.

She added: “The attack, and the impact it had on our family, has driven Jorja to make a difference and grasp opportunities. We are all so proud of her.”

Jorja’s story highlights the positive impact of the established partnership between Castle View and DCSF. Each year, Castle View puts some of its most gifted teenagers forward for the Burkitt Scholarship, which offers support of up to 100 per cent fee remission.

Castle View Vice Principal, Anita Payne, said: “This partnership allows us to raise the aspirations of our students and open the door to new opportunities. It makes us feel incredibly proud when our students thrive at Durham School and go on to secure places at Oxford, Cambridge or other Russell Group universities.”

Jorja is one of more than 200 young people from across the region - from Northumberland down to North Yorkshire - who have been given the chance to study at the Sixth Form through the Burkitt Award.


Your Community, Your News: Subscribe to The Northern Echo now for either 50% off for a year or 3 months for £3. Stay connected with all local happenings. Subscribe here.

Her brother James, who is in Year 11 at Castle View, has applied for the scholarship next year and will sit exams in January.

Jorja’s dream to read Law at Cambridge could see her follow in the footsteps of the man behind the Burkitt Scholarship fund.

Lieutenant Colonel Henry Gale Stewart Burkitt, a former pupil at Durham School between 1926 and 1932, was educated in Cambridge before joining the Indian Army.

On retirement in 1948, he went to Oxford to read Law. In 1985, he made a bequest of more than £400,000 towards bursaries at Durham School.