Hayley describes how she aims to tackle educational inequality and increase diversity and representation
What are your main roles in the College community and why are they such an essential part of College life?
My role involves working with schools and students to provide information and support about applying to Cambridge. Providing opportunities to students from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds is at the centre of Lucy Cavendish’s new admissions policy, and indeed the centre of the College itself. Extending these opportunities to prospective students of disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds is a crucial part of achieving this mission.
What are your key goals and what would you like to change or introduce?
I've joined Lucy Cavendish at a really exciting time in the college's history, which means that I essentially have a fresh slate to start from, with regards to outreach strategy. In line with the college's new admissions policy, my key goals are to reduce educational inequality, to increase diversity and representation at highly selective higher education institutions such as Cambridge, and to empower students to make the right choices for them. I want to work with prospective applicants in a long-term and sustained capacity, to provide them with comprehensive, continuous support throughout their university applications and pre-university studies. Our current students have been incredibly supportive of our goals and outreach initiatives in the past, so I want to introduce more opportunities for current Lucy Cavendish students to get involved with these exciting programmes we have planned.
Has this changed during the pandemic?
The nature of outreach has changed massively during the pandemic. Before, there was a large emphasis on in-person visits, tours and residentials, all of which haven’t been possible because of the pandemic. However, I think that we’ve been able to tackle the pandemic in as positive a way as possible, by expanding the nature and scope of our outreach activities. For example, our virtual Summer Preparation Programme involved almost 200 students from all corners of the country and lasted 6 weeks. Long-term programmes such as this simply aren't possible in person, so virtual events have meant we can reach more students in a more sustained manner.
How do you help current students/prospective students?
One of my primary roles is informing prospective students about Cambridge. Many students, especially those from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds, often have inaccurate information about what Cambridge is and the application process. I hope that, through my work with students and teachers, I can help bust some of the pervasive myths about Cambridge, and provide honest information, advice, and guidance to prospective students about applying.
Furthermore, in a year that has led to many students' education being incredibly disrupted, I also hope we can provide additional opportunities for subject enrichment and academic skills development. For example, we are working to launch a programme that will focus on providing opportunities for high-achieving state-school students to extend their knowledge and skills beyond the curriculum, helping them prepare for their A-Levels, university applications and higher education itself.
How can current students get involved with outreach?
In the coming academic year, we’re thrilled to be launching a new student ambassador scheme. We’d love as many current students as possible to be involved with this, so do look out for information and updates about this.
What's the best thing about your job?
I love working with students! Meeting young people who are so ambitious, intelligent, and enthusiastic is genuinely inspiring, and it is a real privilege getting to work with them on a daily basis. It's also incredibly rewarding to see the difference we’re making. For example, we've received lots of comments from students on our Summer Preparation Programme, telling us that the programme has helped them develop academically and personally, and they feel more prepared for A-Levels and applying for university as a result.
What do you personally love best about the Lucy community?
The people. Everyone I’ve met here at Lucy Cavendish has been so welcoming and friendly. It's been especially nice getting to meet everyone in person as people gradually start working from the office more. I'm also really looking forward to meeting our incoming students when they join us at the end of this month.