Summer schools give pupils an edge
Summer schools can give university applicants an edge, whether by sharpening skills and knowledge in specific areas, honing a pupil’s UCAS statement, broadening their understanding of university life and demands, or clarifying their ambitions.
Some, like the Norfolk Summer School run by the independent Norwich School for pupils from across the county, aim to do all of those things. Here, Will Croston from Norwich School explains how it works.
In the second week of July, Norwich School hosted over a hundred of the brightest sixth formers from a range of academies, maintained schools and free schools around Norfolk and north Suffolk, with students travelling daily from as far as King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Thetford spending up to three hours each day on public transport to attend.
The Norfolk Summer School, now in its fourteenth year, is designed to raise the aspirations of talented Year 12 students and to allow them to experience subject tutorials and guidance about applying to Cambridge, Oxford and other top universities including UEA. Hosted at Norwich School, and funded by the Ogden Trust, Norwich School and two former Norwich School pupils, the week is focused around subject-based tutorials (designed to take the students beyond and away from the constraints of the syllabus) taught by Norwich School staff and helped by current undergraduates and graduates, some of whom attended the course in previous years. Principal subjects offered included economics, English, history, modern languages, law, maths, preparation for medicine, philosophy, psychology and all the sciences.
We hope to offer a wide and challenging menu of talks and lectures to complement the subject seminars. The week opened with an inspiring talk from the Senior Admissions Officer at UEA, Professor Richard Harvey, who spoke about the benefits of Higher Education. There were further visits from superb guest lecturers from New College of the Humanities, UEA and Syriza’s London spokesperson Dr Marina Prentoulis, who came and spoke to those attending on ‘The Politics of Protest’.
Every participant on the course received help on putting together their personal statement and had two individual practice interviews complete with written feedback. There were further presentations on studying overseas, a science lecture on cybernetics and a presentation from the ‘World Class London’ team. A highlight of the week for the prospective medics was a morning spent in a hands-on problem-based learning session with a recent UEA graduate, which gave them a very realistic taste of life as a medical student. The prospective lawyers had the wonderful opportunity of a completely new experience conducting a mock trial under the guided tutelage of two legal professionals (a barrister and a solicitor). The week ended with a visit from Norwich North MP, Chloe Smith, who took part in a wide-ranging Question Time-type debate.
The participants hopefully benefitted from both the seminars and the extra guidance they had received which was designed to complement what they received from their own schools. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to explore in greater depth their subject areas. We offer further support during the autumn term to assist with their UCAS university application process and subject specific interview practice if the pupils who attended ask for it.
With over a 100 participants in recent years, the Norfolk Summer School has become a highlight of the academic year in Norfolk and has not only encouraged pupils from local maintained schools to aim high but also raised our profile as a beacon of excellence in the Eastern Region.
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