The HE+ 2021 Programme got off to a flying start this week with a series of on-line launch events.  In normal times Worcester Sixth Form College (as the hub centre for Worcestershire) would be the venue for most of the HE+ events in our region but this year it is all happening on-line.   250 Year 12 students from across Worcestershire have been selected to take part in this year’s programme.  The Worcestershire Consortium is made up of 10 schools in the region: RSA Academy Arrow Vale, Bournside School Cheltenham, Christopher Whitehead Language College, Droitwich Spa High School, Hagley High School, Pershore High School, Prince Henry’s Evesham, St Augustine’s High School Redditch, Stourport High School and Worcester Sixth Form College.

The Launch event was presented by Becky Taylor and her colleagues from Cambridge University Admissions who run the HE+ programme.  Students were introduced to an impressive range of on-line events to look forward to over the coming months, including a choice of 70 lectures by Cambridge academics covering all courses taught at the university, guidance sessions on applying to university and the chance to take part in a research project supported by postgraduate students.  The programme runs from January to October and students will log on every week to attend virtual lectures and guidance sessions and will be able to engage with the speakers through on-line Q&A.

The aim of the HE+ Programme is to inspire and support state school students to be ambitious in their studies and in their university choices and applications, especially students from backgrounds that are under-represented in higher education.   Worcestershire is one of over 20 consortia in the programme and speakers at the launch event reported that about 4,000 students were taking part this year across the whole UK.

Paul Morris (who with Lucy Bowen coordinates the Worcestershire consortium) said: “This year’s HE+ programme is a very good example of how the world of education has risen to the challenges posed by the COVID crisis.  The range of on-line lectures, talks and support provided by Cambridge is superb.  To back this up, here at Worcester Sixth Form we are having regular on-line meetings with our students to help them make the most of the lectures and resources on offer – and I know from my colleagues in the other schools involved that they are working hard in all sorts of ways to help their students benefit from this opportunity.  The students are very excited about the journey ahead!”

HE+ is just one of the opportunities provided for Worcester Sixth Form students to develop their potential.  The college’s Ambition Programme is open to high achieving Year 12 students who want to extend their aspirations and make strong applications to competitive universities.  As well as helping students find out about opportunities at university, the Ambition Programme develops thinking skills, confidence in presenting your ideas in debates and discussions, and promotes wider reading and research.  In recent years, just under 80% of students who have completed the Ambition Programme at Worcester Sixth Form College have gone on to study at a Russell Group university (the top 24 research universities in the UK).