Fifty 16 year olds from as far afield as Cornwall, Newcastle, Hastings and Birmingham are attending Trinity’s first residential for Year 11 students.
The Stonehouse Residential, 12-15 August, is a partnership with Villiers Park Educational Trust and the Stonehouse Educational Foundation, the Chair of which is Richard Stonehouse, who studied Maths at Trinity in the mid-1960s.
The aim of the Stonehouse Residential is to offer talented 16-year-old students an indepth experience of Cambridge life, provide guidance on A-level subject choices, and information about the application process.
More than 250 students applied for the residential and priority was given to those who will be the first in their family to go to university, those eligible for free school meals, or students who have been in the care of a local authority.
Alexandria, from Hayle in Cornwall, said she was thrilled to secure a place.
It is such a great opportunity to attend seminars and activities at Cambridge and make new friends with similar ambitions. I’m starting to feel a little nervous about meeting new people…However, I’m sure that it will be a brilliant experience and one I’ll never forget!
Idrees, from Birmingham, said:
When I first received my acceptance email, I was extremely surprised! Since then, I have been both excited and slightly anxious to participate but I’m sure it will be a truly valuable experience!
Trinity’s Schools Liaison Officers, Terri-Leigh Riley and Ellie Wood, are running the residential – and they have introduced some innovative features. As well as lectures and seminars given by Trinity Fellows, students will work in small groups to answer an academic question on a topical issue. This will require planning a visit around Cambridge, collecting information, and presenting findings to the wider group. Ms Riley said:
By working in groups to visit various sites around Cambridge such as local libraries and museums, analysing information, and presenting their answer to an academic question on the final day, we hope that students will gain skills and confidence for their post-16 studies.
To deliver this new element, the College has worked closely with its partner, Villiers Park Educational Trust, which has extensive experience empowering 14-18-year-old students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Villiers Park’s Sarah Chick will challenge students to develop their personal and employability skills, such as resilience and problem solving, through team building sessions based on the charity’s Skills4Success model. ‘By combining academic, personal and employability based activities, we hope to provide students with the broad experience needed to give them a head-start when it comes to their sixth form studies and applying to university,’ she said.
Less advantaged students in areas of the UK under-represented at Cambridge were particularly encouraged to apply for this free residential where participants stay in College and attend bespoke lectures and seminars at Trinity and faculties at the University of Cambridge. Ms Riley said: ‘The response was fantastic – the standard of applications was high and to make the process as fair as possible we have planned two additional day visits this autumn.’
For Richard Stonehouse, the widening participation work by Trinity and Cambridge chimes with the aims of the charitable foundation he has set up.
My brother and I were both grammar school boys from the English Midlands who were fortunate enough to go to university – Oxford, to read Classics, in my brother’s case and Cambridge, to read Mathematics, in mine. Fortunate, because our school was one of those that did send pupils to these universities and because this was in the 1950s and 1960s when access for state school pupils was expanding.
Even so, I recall that the best mathematician in my class was unable to go to university due to family circumstances. It seemed fitting to use the legacy from my brother’s will to set up the Foundation, so as to enable more talented young people to go to leading universities. We want to help them overcome any obstacles they might face and a residential course with a combination of lectures, team building sessions and practical advice – not to mention experiencing Cambridge College life – seems ideal.
Trinity Fellow for Widening Participation Projects, Professor Adrian Poole, said:
This is the first Trinity residential for 16 year olds – it’s a vital stage prior to choosing A-Level subjects – and with the support of the Stonehouse Educational Foundation we are delighted to be able to run the course in 2019 and 2020 as well.
We believe these short intensive stays at a Cambridge College are valuable to students aspiring to attend leading universities. We are committed to encouraging and equipping less advantaged students, who have the ability and motivation, to realise that aspiration.