Young people reach for excellence

TWO hundred A-level students from across the region will descend on the University at the weekend at the start of an intensive programme of activity aimed to help them succeed in their studies.

Funded by a charitable donation from the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation, the Reach for Excellence programme will give these bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the best possible chance of fulfilling their potential.

The students have been drawn from schools in Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield, Doncaster, Sheffield, Barnsley, Nottingham, Bridlington and North Yorkshire.  Each has been identified as having the aptitude to do well and progress in their studies.

Between now and the summer of 2013, the students will be given advice sessions and lectures, subject workshops and academic taster sessions to help them to make decisions about courses and future careers, opportunities to interact with other high-achievers from similar backgrounds to inspire them to aim high and ease their transition to university.

This summer, a five-day residential in a Leeds hall of residence, with a mixture of academic and social activities, will give them an early taste of campus life.

The schools and colleges involved are:

  • Leeds: Abbey Grange, Allerton High, Lawnswood, Notre Dame, Roundhay, Leeds East and Leeds West Academies
  • Bradford: Aire Valley, Beckfoot, Belle Vue, Bradford College, Buttershaw, Carlton Bolling, Dixons, Feversham, Laisterdyke, Queensbury, St Benedict's and Thornton Grammar
  • Kirklees: Batley Girls High, Greenhead, Heckmondwike, St John Fisher
  • North Yorkshire: Harrogate Grammar, Wensleydale, Thirsk
  • Wakefield: Wakefield College
  • Doncaster: Danum and Outwood Academies
  • Calderdale: Hipperholme and Lightcliffe, Todmorden
  • Barnsley: Barnsley Academy
  • Nottingham: Wales High School
  • East Riding: Headlands
  • Sheffield: Notre Dame

The 200 young people will meet for the first time on Saturday when they will enjoy an intensive but enjoyable day of presentations and activities.  They will then follow an 18-month programme delivered both in their schools and in the University of Leeds to encourage them to stretch themselves in their studies and aim as high as possible.

It builds on the success of a pilot scheme which the University ran for three years.  It has proved a great success:

  • the 390 students who completed the pilot programme achieved, on average, better grades at A-level than those from a comparison group who did not go through the scheme87 per cent of these students gained a place in higher education compared with 65 per cent of similar students in the comparison group
  • more than twice as many of them achieved a place at a research-intensive university, such as Leeds
  • they were significantly happier about the amount of information and guidance they received to help them to make decisions about university
  • fewer were concerned with the debt they were facing as a result of their studies

The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation has agreed to fund Reach for Excellence for five years - and, in addition, to provide 20 scholarships each year for young people who progress through the scheme to win a place at Leeds, helping to relieve the pressure of debt during their studies.

Ceri Nursaw, Head of Access and Community Engagement at the University of Leeds, expressed her gratitude to Liz and Terry Bramall for their support for the scheme. "We know this programme works. There are many students at universities around the country who are progressing towards good degrees, who might never have achieved their full potential without it.

"Now, 1,000 more young people will benefit from this programme between now and 2018 - and 100 of them will receive scholarships. The support offers new, brighter horizons for these remarkable young people and will genuinely transform lives."

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