Twenty four students from six Luton state schools began the programme in 2015. The students were selected according to academic criteria and ‘widening participation’ flags.
Over the course of Year 10, the students attended eight academic taster sessions at Cardinal Newman School, Luton, focusing on topics that they were unlikely to have studied before at school.
At a day-trip to Wadham in April 2016, each student gave a presentation based on their favourite taster session. They then completed a summer project based on a Very Short Introduction book of their choice, presenting this to their peers and parents. During Year 11, they attended a variety of workshops including ‘A Level choices’ and ‘Study Skills’.
Twelve students attended the concluding two day residential trip from 5 of the Luton schools (Challney High School for Girls, Cardinal Newman School, Denbigh High School, Putteridge High School, Stopsley High School). Here they had opportunities to spend time with current Wadham undergraduates, attend a Computer Science academic taster session, enjoy formal lunch in Hall, visit University Departments and explore the city.
“It was an amazing opportunity” said Anjali. “It’s made a huge positive difference to my confidence and encouraged me to apply to Oxbridge and Russell Group Unis in the future,” added Hafsah.
Fabian was pleased to learn about ‘super-curricular’ activities - “activities I can do in my spare time to further my knowledge of these subjects that I am passionate about.”
Wadham’s Acting Access and Outreach Officer Lucy Busfield said: “It has been a pleasure to work with these students. Sustained schemes such as the Luton Project are a very effective way of giving bright and motivated students a better sense that they would fit in at a university like Oxford. We hope this experience will give participants the confidence to apply to a top university.”
The Luton Project, part of Wadham's Access to Excellence programme, would not be possible without the generous support of Wadham alumni. The project is continuing, with 27 Year 10 participants about to start their second year of the programme and a new intake starting in the Autumn.
Luton Project Aims
- To introduce university as a whole to Luton students, with particular emphasis on Russell Group universities and the variety of subjects on offer at this level.
- To begin to inform Luton students about the differences between school and university-style learning.
- To open the minds of Luton students to 'super-curricular' activities (i.e. academically-focused activities that take students beyond the national curriculum).
- To help develop the confidence of Luton students so that if they wish to apply to one of the top universities, and have the academic potential to succeed there, they have the self-belief to do so.