Rotherham students help University of Cambridge Outreach Scheme celebrate 5,000th participant

Photo: 6th form students

6th form students from Rotherham and Preston helped the University of Cambridge celebrate its HE+ outreach project growing to 5000 participants.

HE+ is a unique collaborative project developed by the University of Cambridge in partnership with groups of schools and colleges across the UK.

Its goal is to encourage and prepare more academically-able students to compete for places at top universities, including the University of Cambridge.

The Rotherham consortium, led by Thomas Rotherham College and linked to Homerton College at the University of Cambridge, was one of the first consortia to join the project.

In an HE+ consortium, schools and colleges work together to offer their brightest students an on-going programme of extension classes and aspiration-raising visits, delivered in partnership with a Cambridge College.

Sarah Gray and Edward O’Toole were two of the eleven Maltby Academy students attending a day of masterclasses at Homerton College, Cambridge.

Sarah took part in an English masterclass led by Steve Watts, Lecturer in English and Admissions Tutor for Homerton College. “The small group was a bit daunting but Steve put us at ease straight away,” she said. “I definitely feel I could fit in at Cambridge now – as soon as Steve told us he was from South Yorkshire I knew I’d be OK.”

“I was a bit sceptical about Cambridge but today has definitely broken some stereotypes for me,” said Edward, who came for a Maths masterclass. “The maths session was challenging but an insight into the skills you need at degree level. I liked the independence and the freedom to come up with your own way of tackling the problems.”

Matt Hallam, Associate Head of Sixth Form at Maltby Academy, says that the Rotherham HE+ consortium has given his students much greater confidence.

“HE+ helps raise the aspirations of our students and in turn supports them in realising their potential,” Matt said.

“One-off visits to Universities provide a great insight into life as an undergraduate, but impact can be limited. The sustained nature of the HE+ programme means that students develop the necessary higher order thinking skills and confidence to compete with top performing students nationally".

“The prospect of applying to Cambridge, or other top universities, steadily becomes more real as the programme develops".

“It is pleasing to see that many of our HE+ students successfully apply to and accept places at a number of selective universities,” Matt added.

“The HE+ programme provides academically talented students with a community for whom aiming high is the norm rather than the exception,” explains University of Cambridge HE+ co-ordinator Jess Bond.

We know that HE+ works,” Jess added. “70% of participants in the 2011-12 HE+ programme were accepted to Russell Group universities, and four in ten of those who applied to Cambridge received offers.”