Girton College welcomed Camden Sixth Formers to two masterclass days in March, part of a new programme jointly organised by the College and Camden Council to encourage and equip the North London students to aim high in their university choices.
For me to hear a student say “I too could belong here” or “It has confirmed I want to study maths” is what these days are about.
Robert Rickard, 14-19 Co-ordinator for Camden Council
Girton prides itself on its history of innovation and inclusivity. Founded as Britain’s first residential college for women offering an education at degree level, the College was also the first of Cambridge’s women’s colleges to admit men. The new programme takes the College’s existing links with Camden schools to a new level.
“We are twinned with Camden through the university’s Area Links scheme,” explains Admissions Tutor Dr Stuart Davis. “While we have been working in the borough for many years, we wanted to find a new way of working with Camden’s schools, one which would help to build a supportive peer group for the students and help them to encourage each other to realise their ambitions.
“This innovative programme is open to every sixth form in Camden and we have been delighted to see so many students join us.”
The Camden students could choose from 16 different masterclass subjects. “We try to make it as inspiring academically as we can,” explained Laura Parkin, Schools Liaison Assistant for Girton College. “One of the most important things is that they meet real students and especially ones in their subject area. They have told us it is great to speak to someone who has been through it before.”
Tom Newman was one of the Girton students giving up his time to help with the visit. “I come from a state school and so I wanted to encourage pupils from state schools to apply to Cambridge,” he said. “I was the only person at my school to get a place. I know from experience part of the struggle is simply having the confidence to apply in the first place.
“This is about me doing anything I can to lend a hand and give something back. They were brilliant today,” Tom added.
According to Dr Sandra Fulton, Senior Tutor and former Admissions Tutor at Girton College, the programme aims to develop students’ confidence in their academic abilities, and also to give them an insight into university life.
“It is important for the students to come away from the masterclasses realising that they are good, and good at this level of education.”
“Even eating in the college cafeteria is an important part of their experience here,” she said, “seeing what a student’s life is like and feeling they could belong here.”
Fowsiya Nur, 17, from Haverstock School in Camden, found that the masterclasses challenged her preconceptions about Cambridge. "It was really great. I found out what studying in Cambridge was really like, ”she said.
”I had a typical stereotype towards Cambridge , however I realised that this wasn't entirely true. Finding out about the interviewing system and the master class in medicine was incredibly helpful.
“Thank you to Girton college and all those involved in organising this trip today,” Fowisa added.
Robert Rickard, 14-19 Co-ordinator for Camden Council and one of the organisers of the new scheme, said “Today has been quite moving. For me to hear a student say “I too could belong here” or “It has confirmed I want to study maths” is what these days are about.
“We have students here from almost every 6th form in Camden. It was great to get such strong buy-in from schools in the first year of the programme.”
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