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Programmes for gifted and talented: Reach

Are you considering applying to top research universities or degree apprenticeships?

ӰƵ supports academically gifted students to realise their potential to win places at the highest ranked universities and degree apprenticeships in an increasingly competitive environment.

This is achieved through the quality of our subject teaching and our Reach programme, which is a bespoke course of lessons of one hour a week from January of Year 1.

Reach gives students the knowledge so they can make an informed choice which top universities or competitive apprenticeships they want to apply for.

It is worth noting that many degree apprenticeship applications are after the UCAS deadline, so many students consider both options.

Students take part in Reach, and after 6 months decide if they want to go through early application (to Oxford, Cambridge, medicine, vet med or dentistry) or go to other top universities and options later.

Why 'early applicants'?

Those who choose to apply for Oxford or Cambridge, or to medicine, vet medicine or dentistry courses are known as ‘early applicants’ as their university application must be in by October, rather than the normal date of January.

Trip to Cambridge

Trip to Cambridge

Do Reach students have to apply for Oxbridge or medicine based subjects?

Reach is not solely for Oxbridge or medical based students. The majority of Reach students progress through the programme and find the places and courses that are right for them. Many of our brightest students choose other top research universities such as: Imperial, UCL, LSE, Durham, Bristol and St. Andrews, to study some of the most competitive subjects. Many students now also consider degree apprenticeships, which are exceptionally competitive. Reach helps you excel, regardless of where you apply.

Reach also now supports applicants considering applying to universities in the USA, Ireland and Continental Europe.

What do Reach lessons include?

  • Workshops on the application processes to give personalised support to our most able.
  • Subject enhancement – support with super curricular extension activities to demonstrate candidates' potential for academic excellence in their chosen subjects.
  • Preparation for universities' own admissions tests, or Thinking Skills Assessments: an increasingly common requirement for higher tariff (Russell Group) universities.
  • Intensive interview preparation and presentational skills training.
  • Using our close working relationships with Oxbridge colleges' Schools Liaison Officers and admissions teams; admissions tutors come and deliver sessions on personal statement writing and Interviews at the college.
  • Privileged access to universities' widening participation initiatives available only to the maintained sector.
  • Tutoring for the STEP tests for Mathematics.
  • Specialist careers support from our staff, but also from our increasingly successful alumni who return to mentor current students.
  • Access to a range of international opportunities including Sutton Trust US and UK, Villiers Park, UNIQ, CanBridge, and Summer Schools.
  • A range of options of trips to many universities, but also to Oxford, and Cambridge.
Trip to Cambridge

Trip to Cambridge

Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine

These students have their own distinct support programme run by the Careers Department. These students take part in Reach, and have additional support, including:

  • Advice on work experience and volunteering.
  • Advice on wider reading and research.
  • Access to specialised university taster sessions.
  • Individual and group mock interviews.
  • Talks from former students, professionals and specialists in these subjects.

Medicine is also one of the most popular streams on the Academic Masterclass lectures, delivered by senior medics and former medics on our site.

Oxbridge: how successful are we?

The competition for places at Oxford and Cambridge has been increasing steadily since 2000, but the number of places available remains much the same.

ӰƵ continues to have national success. We have one of the highest percentage of offers to applicants in the country. In 2023, 23 students received offers, of 61 who applied. This represents 38% of those who applied. The national average is lower than 20%.

  • 21 out of 64 applicants received offers for 2022.
  • 22 out of 58 applicants received offers for 2021.
  • 31 out of 74 applicants received offers for 2020. 

Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry: How successful are we?

In 2023, 40% of our medics got an offer, in comparison with the national average of 27%. Veterinary medicine 80% of our applicants got offers. In dentistry 100% (of a small cohort) received offers.

Is it just about Oxbridge?

No. Students from Reach go on to a wide variety of exciting destinations, moving to all corners of the UK to undertake university courses, degree apprenticeships, work with training and gap years!

Students are well informed and supported to achieve career goals and reach their full potential, Ofsted noted in their 2023 inspection: “The quality of the careers support available to students is excellent; students benefit from a broad programme of career-focused activity throughout their time at college.” 

All of my teachers and the careers staff have been very supportive and helpful. My tutor read over my personal statement multiple times, as well as the Oxbridge Co-Ordinator, Politics and Philosophy teachers. Applying to Oxford felt like a pipe dream; the HE+ programme and support at HSFC made it feel achievable. Every one of my teachers goes above and beyond with workshops and help inside and outside lessons.

Meg H, former student

What do competitive universities want?

It is increasingly clear that Russell Group admissions tutors now focus almost exclusively on academic excellence (already demonstrated and potential), plus enthusiasm and aptitude for their subject. Subject specific admissions tests or Thinking Skills Assessments set by universities are increasingly the norm for higher tariff universities.   It is worth noting that these are often during October half term holiday.

Extra curricular activities count for much less than in the past. So, while the College provides every opportunity for students to participate in Sports, Music and the Arts generally, this programme is about academic success.

Trip to Cambridge: Lecture at Christ's College

Trip to Cambridge: Lecture at Christ's College

Who can join Reach?

The Reach programme is open to those who already have a proven track record of academic success, but also those who show excellence on arrival at ӰƵ.

All students with five or more 7/8/9 or A/A*s at GCSE are automatically enrolled on the programme.  However, contextual information is considered to explain why an evidently gifted student gained fewer GCSE at this level than might otherwise have been possible.

Subject Choices

For some top universities, they may want students to have only A level subjects. Some traditional subjects may be favoured by some universities, especially in Maths, the Sciences and Law. If students would like more information about subject requirements, particularly if they are considering the competitive universities, please do get in touch. We are happy to give advice. Advice is also given at enrolment.

For more information on which courses might be right for you, see our Academic Pathways leaflet.

Please contact Senior Progression Lead, Vicky Orsmond: vjo@hereford.ac.uk, or Careers careers@hereford.ac.uk if you have queries.

Oxbridge Offer Holders 2024

Oxbridge Offer Holders 2024