The 150 youngsters had all chosen to spend a day at the University of Cambridge as part of the Department for Education’s (DfE) Dux awards scheme. CAPTION: Higher learning: The year 9 students during their day at the University of Cambridge
The DfE’s initiative aims to celebrate exceptional academic performance and inspire pupils to aim high. It also encourages academically able teenagers to start thinking about their higher education options early on.
Secondary schools in England were asked to nominate their most outstanding year 9 pupils, with the youngsters receiving a trip for themselves and a teacher to a Russell Group university of their choice.
The prize winners who chose to spend a day at Cambridge learned about the importance of choosing effective subject combinations at GCSE and how this will put them in a stronger position for degree-level study.
“It’s good for our students to come here and experience what life is like at Cambridge,” said teacher Rhett Cameron, head of year 9 at Mayfield School in Dagenham, Essex.
“We have a lot of students with good grades, who could present realistic applications, and we want them to gain a sense of possibility. It’s been emphasised over and over again that academic achievement is what gets you in and it’s good for our pupils to hear that.”
The two Mayfield pupils he accompanied, Nadia Khatun and Mahum Kureshi, both agreed that the day had inspired them to apply.
“I was thinking about going to university,” said Nadia. “But I definitely want to apply now.”
Meanwhile, Tom Levinson, head of widening participation at Cambridge, said the university placed a huge emphasis on ensuring that youngsters with “the ability, passion and commitment” to apply receive the support necessary for them to demonstrate their potential.
“Teachers are vital allies in our shared task of encouraging and equipping academically talented students to make the most of their higher education options,” he told SecEd.
“We hope that, for those teachers who are new to Cambridge, these visits will be the start of a positive and on-going relationship.”
For more details on the Dux scheme, go to www.education.gov.uk/dux-university-visits/.