Among the students who received their GCSE results yesterday is a group of Oxfordshire pupils who have taken part in a programme with Oxford University’s Widening Participation team for the last three years.
The Oxford Young Ambassadors scheme works with Year 9 students who have little or no family history of higher education, and many are predicted grades in the region of Bs at GCSE. Today, many of those students exceeded their predictions.
Among those is 16-year-old Becca Mattingley, who achieved two A*s in History and Biology, seven As, two Bs and a C.
'Overall, I am extremely happy with my results,' says Becca. 'I did better than I expected, especially because I had been off school for three months during Year 11.'
Becca has now enrolled into the Sixth Form at The Cooper School, Bicester, to take her A Levels, and intends to continue her education at University. She says: 'I come from a family where no one has attended university but have still been successful in their careers. Therefore, I never really considered going to university before I started the Oxford Young Ambassadors programme. However since joining OYA, my opinion has changed and I am determined to make the best of my education.'
Oxford Young Ambassadors are chosen by the University’s Widening Participation team to be 'higher education ambassadors' in their schools and communities as a way of raising aspiration and attainment. Ambassadors visit other universities, including overnight stays, to give them a taste of university life.
Tara Prayag, Head of Widening Participation at Oxford University, says: 'For children whose parents have been to university, and whose school encourages them to apply to university, aiming high is often second nature.
'But many children are from households where there is no family history of higher education and in this difficult time for the economy they might rule out continuing their studies after school in favour of getting a job. Of course, university is not for everyone, but we aim to encourage all students to consider it as a serious option.'
Tara Prayag wrote an article about the work of Widening Participation in this week’s Oxford Mail.