Highly Able trip to the PiXL Oxbridge and Russell Group Student Conference Monday 20th January 2014

Highly Able trip to the PiXL Oxbridge and Russell Group Student Conference Monday 20th January 2014

I was lucky enough to start this week with a visit to the Kia Oval. Myself and Ms Brooks, a TA and Key Stage Four Learning Mentor, accompained a group of forty of our Highly Able pupils from Years Ten and Eleven to the above conference and we all came away, staff included, feeling well informed and excited about the opportunities available to our potentially high-achieving young people.


The day began with refreshments and these were no ordinary refreshments…I have never seen such happy faces at such an early hour and I could overhear many pupils discussing the merits of the flapjacks and the fact that they alone were worth getting up early for! Once we were fed and watered, we were shown into the suite where the conference was to take place, and we took our seats.


We were addressed firstly by Peter Rawling, the Vice-Chair of the PiXL6 group who had organised the conference. He took us through a presentation outlining what our students needed to know about the process of university application and course selection, how the feedback from Year Twelve and Thirteen pupils had lead to this information being shared earlier through today’s conference and what pupils needed to do to ensure their applications stood out in amongst the thousands received – he gave the example of one university’s Law Department receiving 2,367 applications for just 70 places.  He provided lots of practical advice for the pupils which they could start acting on immediately.


We were then addressed by Dr Joe Organ from Oxford University, talking on behalf of both Oxford and Camrbidge universities, and he outlined the benefits of studying there: he spoke of challenging, stimulating courses, he described the intimacy and support of small-group teaching and he was quick to dismiss the idea that it was only for ‘posh’ or ‘public school’ pupils. He wanted our pupils to aspire to attend these institutions and encourage them not to dismiss them as ‘out of their league’.


Our final speaker was Jack Haynes, Oxford alumni but speaking on behalf of King’s College London and the other Russell Group universities. He reminded pupils of all that London as a city had to offer and he drew our attention to the statistic that KCL had the best graduate employment rate in 2012 – 13. Once again, he made King’s seem like an exciting place to study and, during my discussion with our pupils at breaktime and later in the day, it seems that they were very impressed by both speakers.


After the break, and MORE refreshments, we returned for Peter Rawling to conclude and offer time for questions. Some of our pupils stayed behind to learn more about the support available to students of these universities and the coach was buzzing all the way home. I think the day gave our students a real boost as it made them realise that they have the potential to achieve at the highest levels through hard work and determination. Those pupils I spoke to throughout the day were happy to be recognised for their potential and many of them had not considered the possibility of attending such prestigious institutions. They certainly will be now!