This year, for the first time, St. Mary’s Sixth Form students have had the chance to participate in the Teach First Futures Programme, which encourages students from areas such as Blackpool to aim for the top universities.
After an initial chat with our North West rep, Claire Critchley, Tristan, along with other St. Mary’s Sixth Form students, attended an initial meeting at Manchester University with Liz Murray, Senior Head of Sixth Form, to get the programme underway.
This has been followed by a trip to Sheffield University one Saturday, and, more recently, just before Easter, a free of charge residential course at Cambridge University.
Students on the programme really pushed themselves to take on the theme of ‘No Limits’. Following the first nervous introductions, they undertook a scavenger hunt around Cambridge, got stuck into undergraduate level academic lectures and seminars, tried a taster university society (everything from debating to drama to hide & seek!), identified their goals for the future and what steps they need to take to get there, took part in high-level networking with Teach First and Cambridge staff members, enjoyed a three-course formal dinner, let their hair down at the final night party, and capped off the whole experience by making an unscripted speech before heading home.
Tristan, along with others, gained confidence, boosted academic skills, formed new friendships, and developed a newfound sense of identity and challenge.
Tristan has returned knowing first hand that places like Oxford, Cambridge and other Russell Group universities are not beyond his grasp. (In fact, St. Mary’s has a higher than national average of Russell Group applicants successfully taking up undergraduate places.)
The next step of the Futures event is the Mentoring launch at the University of Manchester in July. The programme will be open to current Year 11 next year in our Sixth Form, and also involves a personal mentor to guide and coach them through both revision and the application to University process, with interview tips thrown in.