STUDENTS from Priestley College are taking part in a programme designed to give them the best chance of securing places at the UK’s top universities.
Priestley students make up nearly a quarter of those on the Pembroke North programme, which is organised by Pembroke College , Oxford University.
Former University Academy Warrington pupil Ethan Holton said he was enjoying working alongside young people from other North West colleges.
“As much as it’s challenging, it’s very open and there’s an inherent comfort knowing this is a challenge for not only yourself, but for those around you,” he said.
“The style in which the course is taught means the only way to succeed is through communicating with other people. Not only does the course provide the academic challenge, but also one of teamwork, and communication, and that to me has been the most enjoyable thing.”
Nine students from Priestley attend the Pembroke North sessions every Tuesday after college.
The unique humanities programme prepares them for the intensive learning required by competitive universities.
It includes support with applications, a study day and a residential at Pembroke College as well as a number of seminars in Manchester.
Megan Byrom, a former pupil at Hope Academy, now studies A-Levels in English Literature, Classical Civilisation, Geography and Politics at Priestley College.
She said: “As students in the north west, selective and competitive universities such as Oxford and Cambridge can feel like unrealistic goals.
“However the programme, along with the trip to Oxford, has helped us see these universities as places we can aspire to study in.”
For former Cardinal Newman RC High School pupil Ewan Craven the Pembroke North programme has allowed him to develop valuable skills such as critical reading.
“The academic literature that has been given to us is very challenging, but I have developed the skills needed to follow a difficult text and to critically analyse a hard piece of work,” he said.
All the Priestley students also take part in the college’s Graduate programme, which is designed to make them as competitive as possible when applying for top university places.
Mark Salmon, a Senior Tutor at Priestley College, said the programme was the closest experience to university that sixth form students could enjoy.
“The course is so integral to developing the independent learning skills so highly valued at university with extensive wider reading scrutinised in challenging seminars,” he said.
“I see first-hand the developing confidence of students on the Pembroke North programme. They leave with greater resilience and well prepared for the imminent journey of pursuing a competitive university place.”