For many years we have had a programme of events aimed at encouraging our students to think about the possibility of applying to Oxford and Cambridge.
In the minds of many, these universities may seem like an impossible aspiration, but we have had as many as six, seven or even ten students who have gained places in different years – and sometimes only one!
Both Oxford and Cambridge are keen to interview and accept pupils from Calday. Our school is in the North West, which is considered an outreach area, and Magdalene College, Cambridge and St Peter’s College, Oxford even have teams dedicated to maximising applications from Merseyside.
Both universities have a different approach from, say, Durham. Even if you don’t have all top grades at GCSE, Oxbridge look beyond that to future performance and teachability. If you are really enthused by your 6th Form studies, and are showing the real you, it is well worth thinking about the possibility even if your previous performance has been less than perfect. If you are passionate about your subject, Oxford and Cambridge are interested in you!
Mr Leo Byrne has been responsible for Oxbridge for over 20 years, and he works with other teachers to help Calday pupils with the process. He is from an ordinary family and went to local schools in Birkenhead before gaining an Open Scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, so he has first-hand knowledge of the system.
In the summer term we usually take those interested to stay overnight in actual colleges at both universities. This is a life-changing experience for many of our pupils, who are inspired by the atmosphere of the two historic cities.
In the autumn term we will organise interview practice among the pupils themselves, and in November we will organise mock interviews with people from outside Calday. Many friends of the school have been very generous in giving of their time and expertise to help with what can be a daunting experience. We have been helped by practising engineers, architects, estate managers, circuit judges, an FRS, a QC, university professors, medical consultants, retired Oxbridge graduates from teaching and computing and many others.