Wednesday 5th April saw some of our most able Year 10 students set off for a residential visit to Cambridge University along with Mrs Quicler, Mr Maunder and Mrs Smith. Upon arrival, we were greeted by ex-students and shown to their accommodation; we were provided with the opportunity to stay within Sidney Sussex College student halls of residence, giving our students a true experience of university life.

Once settled, we made our way over to Sidney Sussex College main site for the start of our sessions.  Again, we were greeted by current Cambridge University students who discussed with us the benefits of attending university as well as the specific benefits of attending Cambridge University, including the small group sizes, the one-to-one support provided by lecturers and the fact that lecturers at Cambridge are experts in their field. We also had a look at student timetables to get a feel for student life and exactly what it entails, gearing our students up for what to expect should they go on to study at degree level.  Tours of Cambridge city centre followed with introductions to some of the biggest college sites as well as the many tourist attractions making Cambridge a desirable place to reside when studying. An evening meal at the college dining room was followed by a night of charades and card games before an early night ready for our second day.

The second day saw us meet some more students as well as university staff. Firstly, we were introduced to the university admissions director who spoke to us about the importance of making good decisions early as well as outlining key elements of the university application process. It was really interesting to hear direct from university staff what to include in personal statements as well as tips on the university interview process; she was also able to dismiss some common myths about the dreaded Cambridge admissions interview, setting some minds at ease.

A tour of the College Campus enabled us to learn lots about Sidney Sussex College and Cambridge University as a whole, including the fact that their main libraries hold no fewer than eight million books at any given time! Shortly after, we were given the opportunity to sample a taster lecture in Sociology; this really got our students’ brains working, discussing the impact of racism on health and well-being. The lecturer was very impressed with the attitudes of our students and commented that he could have continued the discussion with them for hours after the session, given their very valid and well-emphasised points.

A quick review of everything we had covered followed and before we knew it we were back on the coach heading home after a very inspiring and informative two days, leaving our students with the information they may need to help make informed decisions for their future. It is hoped that follow-up sessions will occur with other students in Year 10 back at school.