For the fourth year running, Murray Edwards College hosted the Year 12 strand of the Low Participation Neighbourhoods (LPN) Summer School. Due to COVID-19, we were not able to welcome the students to Cambridge, but the programme of events was replicated online.
The scheme is run in collaboration with Christ’s College and Sidney Sussex College. Students apply in Year 11, with all students accepted onto the scheme living in POLAR4 Quintile 1 or 2 areas, which are recognised as areas of the country where there is minimal progression to higher education.
In Year 11, students are assigned a subject stream based on their preferences in their application form and receive three lectures by University of Cambridge academics. In addition, they attend a ‘Try Something New’ lecture, which may be in a subject they have not encountered before if it is not taught at school – such as Computer Science or Anthropology. Beyond subject specific sessions, students take part in ‘Cambridge Explained’, Q&As and drop-in sessions. In between the Year 11 and 12 Summer School, students receive support and communication regarding further opportunities.
This year, we hosted 86 Year 12 students online who joined sessions from all over the country – from Swansea to Northumberland. For Year 12, the Summer School is more admissions orientated, including: an admissions talk, interview and personal statement workshops, and admissions assessment sessions based on subjects. Thinking of higher education and beyond, we also held a session on student finance and a student Q&A with five current Murray Edwards students and access volunteers. The careers and alumnae panel was hosted slightly differently this year but was a success, being led by three alumnae – Imogen O’Connor a Healthcare Researcher at Imperial, Alex Veitch a Programme Leader at upReach and Sarah Martin a recent graduate in Materials Science, as part of the Natural Sciences Tripos.
Although the highlight of the Summer School is usually the formal dinner in the Dome dining hall, students were still able to join in with online evening activities, with an Escape Room for Year 11s and a quiz for Year 12s.
We ask students for feedback, and when asked what they most enjoyed about LPN one student answered: ‘the amount of information available made me much more confident in applying to Cambridge”.
We look forward to welcoming back the current Year 11 students for the second leg of the scheme next year.