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18th September 2020

East Lothian school pupils take part in Exeter College access programme

East Lothian pupils on the access programme

Some of the pupils who took part

A unique partnership between East Lothian Council and Exeter College took place this week. It is the second year that the access programme has been held, and this year more young students were able to take part and the programme was run as a joint initiative with St Benet’s Hall.

Last year, 12 third year pupils from across East Lothian’s six secondary schools travelled to Exeter College for a week of learning and social activities. The young people took part in seminars, tutorials and museum visits, experiencing all that Exeter College and Oxford have to offer.  All costs – including travel and accommodation – were fully-funded by Exeter College and East Lothian Council.

Following the success of the 2019 experience, the 2020 experience expanded. In addition to 12 new students, last year’s students were invited to return for a follow-up experience, which was delivered between 14 and 17 September. The Clydeside Project, an initiative run by Scottish undergraduates at Oxford, has committed to supporting any young people who have participated with support for future applications to the University.

Young people in S3 from across the East Lothian’s six secondaries were invited to apply to take part in the programme. Applicants undertook a rigorous series of assessments with 12 spaces being awarded to the highest performing young people. As a residential experience was not possible this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the programme moved online. The young people were able to choose their tutorials from maths, English literature, theology, ancient history, and social sciences.

Claudia Logan, a returning student from North Berwick High School, said: “This was an amazing thing to experience at such a young age. I’m glad we were able to have this opportunity given to us – not just to make great friends and work with the best professors, but also to experience uni life at one of the best universities.”

Kayla McKinnie, who attends Musselburgh Grammar and is part of the new group, said: “It’s the type of thing you never think you’re going to be able to do, and regardless of the circumstances, it’s an amazing opportunity.”

Andrew Small, a DPhil candidate in History at Exeter College and co-ordinator for the programme, said: “We have always wanted the programme to deepen the relationship between East Lothian and Oxford even in the present situation. Everyone pulled together to make sure that happens.”

Speaking ahead of this year’s programme Rector Professor Sir Rick Trainor said: “Exeter College is delighted to be participating in the East Lothian Oxford programme for a second year. My colleagues and I hugely enjoyed the 2019 programme, and we are confident that the 2020 programme, although necessarily online in current circumstances, will prove a useful learning experience both for Oxford and for the pupils from East Lothian.”

Relatively low numbers of students from Scottish schools go on to study at Oxford, and the East Lothian programme aims to encourage young people from the region to aspire to attend Oxford and to share their experience of the Oxford education system and all that Oxford offers with their peers.

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