Fifteen students from the London boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets attended the Easter residential. Working and spending time with Wadham undergraduate student mentors proved a particularly valuable experience for many participants.
“I enjoyed the sessions with my mentor because it provided me with more insight about the course I want to study and university life as a whole. I think I have developed my presentation skills because I am now more able to deliver information confidently. It was amazing!” commented one student.
Other students added that they had learned the importance of reading widely around their subject of study and better understood the application process, as well as feeling more confident about the writing of personal statements.
The Year 12 students (aged 16-18) have been among 22 young people participating in a year-long sustained scheme from six state schools/colleges in East London. They have attended academic taster sessions at Newham Sixth Form College (NewVic) focusing on humanities and social sciences subjects broadly related to the topic of ‘Civilization and Barbarism’.
Students were selected for the programme according to academic attainment in the context of widening participation ‘flags’ (for example, having no parental history of higher education, being eligible for free school meals and living in areas of low participation in higher education).
The scheme is free of charge to all participants and schools and aims to help prepare the students for writing strong applications to the most competitive universities. The scheme also encourages participants to consider applying to Oxford University and Wadham College and provides support in order to ensure that they can adapt quickly to university study in the future.
Academic taster sessions led by graduate students and tutors have covered a range of topics this year including:
• ‘The Modern City in 19th Century Literature’ (English)
• ‘“They hardly ever wear underpants”: Catholics, Protestants, Ottomans and Barbarians in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries’ (History)
• ‘Adventuring with Gilgamesh and Enkidu’ (Theology/Oriental Studies)
• ‘Harmful content on social media: Do we need to place limits on freedom of speech’ (Computer Science)
• 'Feeling sorry? Tell someone who cares! - Judges, offenders and passing the correct sentence' (Law)
• 'What does it mean to destroy cultural heritage?' (Oriental Studies)
Acting Access and Outreach Officer Lucy Busfield commented: “It was wonderful to see the confidence of these young people grow as they spent time getting to know Wadham and some of our students. Helping them feel that they would ‘fit in’ here is an important part of the residential programme.”
The Wad-Ham sustained scheme is made possible thanks to the generosity of Wadham alumni who support the College’s Access to Excellence programme.