County-wide initiative set to raise university aspirations of sixth form students

A project which aims to increase the number of young people from across Bedfordshire securing places at some of the country’s leading universities has been announced.

The project ‘Raising Sixth Form Aspirations’ will improve the chances of students going to both traditional and modern universities, as well as gaining places on top medical and veterinary science courses and higher-level degree apprenticeship schemes.

The three-year project is the brainchild of Professor Lee Hubbard, Head of Academia at Samuel Whitbread Academy in Clifton, which is part of the Bedfordshire Schools Trust (BEST).

Sponsored by the Connolly Foundation – which will be distributing grants of £3,000 per year to schools involved, in order for them to lead on the project in-house – partner institutions include the University of Bedfordshire, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Cranfield University and Cranfield’s MK:U platform. Further support and resources will be provided by BEST and the Meridian Trust.

Professor Hubbard will be leading on the project alongside Yvonne Ashby, Head of Careers at the Wootton Academy Trust, and Nigel Croft, Education Consultant and formerly Head Teacher of Redborne Upper School.

Professor Hubbard said: “The project is based on my work over the last three years at Samuel Whitbread. The aim is to help to raise the aspirations of our young people, improve their personal statements and interview skills, as well as their communication, organisation and problem-solving techniques.”

Twelve Bedfordshire schools have currently signed up to be part of the ground-breaking programme, with a combined total of over 3,000 sixth form students, including:

  • Samuel Whitbread Academy
  • Wootton Upper School and Kimberley College
  • Biddenham International School and Sports College
  • Cedars Upper School, Leighton Buzzard
  • Harlington Upper School
  • Redborne Upper School and Community College, Ampthill
  • Sandy Secondary School
  • Sharnbrook Academy
  • Vandyke Upper School, Leighton Buzzard
  • Queensbury Academy, Dunstable
  • Stratton Upper School, Biggleswade
  • Mark Rutherford School, Bedford

The project was officially launched at a special event held at the University of Bedfordshire earlier this month, attended by head teachers and sixth form leaders from participating schools. Work will get under way in earnest in the new academic year in September.

David Seaton, Assistant Director of Student Recruitment & Admissions at the University of Bedfordshire, commented: “We’re extremely proud to be supporting our local schools and colleges through this collaboration. It will give prospective students the opportunity to access higher education in their home region and inform them of the variety of learning and apprenticeship paths they can choose to experience, which will all help towards their future careers.”

The University has committed to working closely with schools across the region to ensure students have a clear route to attending the institution, with a key focus on prospective local students who wish to study for a degree while staying close to home.

For more information about courses offered by the University of Bedfordshire, or to apply through clearing for the 2022/23 academic term, visit:

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