Our flagship virtual outreach programme will start again in November with an extended programme to provide participants with an increased degree of academic support.
Lucy Cavendish College’s unique online outreach programme aims to raise students’ academic attainment from starting their post-16 studies to applying to university.
The Programme provides comprehensive supplementary academic support tailored to their stage in the curriculum, giving them the best chance of achieving their full potential. Participants have the opportunity to develop their key academic skills and subject-specific knowledge, get an insight into university-level study, and receive advice and guidance to make competitive applications to highly selective universities like Cambridge. So far, over 1200 students in total have participated in the Programme: 550 in the pilot 2021-22 programme, and 678 in the 2022-23 programme.
The Programme begins in the summer following the completion of GCSEs/National 5s, to support students’ transition to post-16 study. Students participate in weekly sessions to strengthen their subject-specific knowledge and academic study skills, and attend ‘university readiness’ webinars to encourage them to start thinking about their next steps.
“It helped me fill in any gaps from GCSE, as well as bridge the gap for A-Levels. The presentations really inspired me and gave me a huge boost of motivation and excitement for sixth form, deepening my interest in my field as well as helping me understand how I can excel in my studies and further explore my interests outside of the school syllabus.” – AAP Participant
Throughout Year 12 (S5 – Scotland, Y13 – N.I.), students then participate in regular subject-specific enrichment classes, with the aim of strengthening students' skills and knowledge and raising attainment and confidence in their current studies. Monthly ‘peer discussion groups’, where students discuss solutions to UN Sustainable Development Goals, also offer students the opportunity to continuously develop their oracy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, while forming a network of peers with shared interests and aspirations. Finally, a range of additional subject taster sessions, alongside the completion of a Supracurricular Exploration Project in May, allow students to explore their subject interests further and think more seriously about possible degree choices.
“Signing up has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I have loved the engaging nature of my courses and it really gave me the opportunity to ‘geek out’ on topics that genuinely fascinate me!” – AAP Participant
Students also receive advice from our Admissions Team on every stage of the application process so that they can make their university applications as competitive as possible. This culminates in the ‘Summer Application Bootcamp’ in the August before Year 13 (S6 – Scotland, Y14 – N.I.), where students receive tailored support with personal statements and preparation for admissions tests and interviews, while developing their enquiring, enterprising, and problem-solving capabilities.
“I have been able to have serious conversations about going to Oxbridge and learn from Cambridge itself what it takes to be a Cambridge candidate. What would initially seem a daunting experience has been made easy, accessible, and understandable.” – AAP Participant
The Programme is run entirely online, allowing the College to reach students who cannot easily travel to Cambridge for a residential programme and, crucially, allowing them to maintain personal commitments e.g. to part-time jobs which contribute to family income, or to caring responsibilities for other family members.
Analysis of students who participated in our pilot Programme reveals that 216 students who participated in this Programme applied to Cambridge, 91 of whom received offers. This is an offer rate of 42%, which is double the university-wide offer rate of 21% and significantly higher than the university-wide Home Maintained offer rate of 25%. Furthermore, data from UCAS’s Outreach Evaluator reveals that 93% of these students applied to higher tariff universities, which is significantly higher than 17% of the benchmarked cohort.
Qualitative data also suggests the Programme is very beneficial to participants’ current studies and university application: 97% of students felt more confident about starting their A-Levels following the SPP, and 90% of participants agree that the AEP has provided them with the resources and support to achieve the grades they want to at A-Level (Scottish Highers/IB).
We hope our current and future programmes, with continued development and investment, can build on the success of this Programme.
Applications for the 2023/24 Programme are open until 9 October, and Year 12 (S5 – Scotland, Y13 – N.I.) students can find out more and apply here: https://www.lucy.cam.ac.uk/academic-attainment-programme