Twenty-five students from Richmond Sixth Form College have completed highly-sought-after residential courses at the prestigious Villiers Park Education Centre in Cambridge. For thirty years, a high proportion of A-level students have secured places on week-long, subject-specific programmes that aim to give state-college students some of the tailored teaching support that is available to their independent college peers.
Competition for places is strong and, with only 18 courses on offer, Sandra Johnson, Assistant Headteacher, was delighted that so many students were successful. This year an impressive 5% of all students on the programme were from Richmond Sixth Form College. saying: “I have co-ordinated the Villiers Park programme since 2015 and each year I am impressed by the number of students who achieve places, given the hugely challenging and competitive application process where students have to be predicted As and A*s to even be considered. This year is no exception with the standard and success rate being higher than ever. It is wonderful that our strong presence and achievements at Villiers Park have a thirty-year legacy.”
Villiers Park Educational Trust is a national charity that is committed to improving equality in education and careers across the UK. Working with high-ability young people, from the state education sector, they aim to empower young people to secure places at leading universities or on other high-level routes, such as degree apprenticeships. The twenty-five students took part in the Inspiring Excellence Programme covering subject-specific courses including Humanities, Science, Maths, English and Foreign Languages. The courses are taught in a university-style setting by a team of 50 tutors who are university lecturers, PhD students or people who work in relevant industries.
The Villiers Park approach has been of enormous benefit to Faye McLean, a Year 13 student who has offers to study Archaeology at Cambridge and Durham Universities. Faye said: “I have always been interested in History but in Year 12, I was unsure about which path to follow at university and my following career. After attending a History course at Villiers Park, I realised that although I did enjoy History, I didn’t want to do straight History. However, this led me onto discovering Archaeology which is what I will hopefully be studying at university next year. Villiers Park helped me to work out where my real passion lies in History and so, as well as being an enjoyable experience, it was also extremely beneficial.
Josh Dixon, a Year 13 student who found that the Villiers Park experience helped to cement his future career plans, added: “I think a Villiers Park course is an excellent opportunity to gain confidence, team working skills and an insight into what it is like to learn at a post A-Level standard. Computer Science has been one of my favourite subjects throughout my time at Richmond School, but the ‘Logic to Application’ course I went on was the thing that made me really want to study it at university. I chose this course because it covers a huge range of topics from all areas of Computer Science and I was curious to see which ones I enjoyed the most. Before the course I had considered a career as a software engineer which, after going to Villiers Park, turned into an aspiration. I loved the programming challenges and working with different people, who became friends over the span of the course, to solve problems.”