Free summer schools for teenagers

18 January 2019

Sutton Trust image - teens walking
Image credit: The Sutton Trust

Seventy-five teenagers from low and middle income backgrounds will get to experience life as an undergraduate at Cardiff University this year through free summer schools run by the Sutton Trust.

The Sutton Trust’s UK summer schools aim to improve access to top universities by giving participants the knowledge and insight to make high quality applications, as well as boosting their aspirations.

Year 12 students get a flavour of what their first-year as an undergraduate student will be like through a week of taster lectures, workshops and social activities.

Cardiff will be the first Welsh university to deliver the programme and has launched 75 new places on the medicine summer school, designed to give participants a taste of undergraduate life.

The expansion means that the Sutton Trust now works with 13 partner universities across the UK to deliver the summer schools. In 2019, 2,300 state school students from across the country – many of whom will be the first in their family to go on to higher education - will take part in subject-specific courses.

Tammy Elward took part in a UK summer school in 2000. She said: “I grew up in South Wales in a very rural area of the valleys. My dad was a coal miner before he had an accident and couldn’t work anymore, and my mum worked in a factory for a short time in Cardiff before moving back to the village."

Before me, no-one in my family was educated beyond GCSEs. At first the Summer School experience was alien to me so initially I withdrew from activities – simply the act of travelling away from home made me anxious. As the week progressed I realised I had other options than just staying in the Valleys. It was after the programme that I decided to apply to study languages at the University of Cambridge.

Tammy Elward

The Sutton Trust’s UK Summer Schools are open to all Year 12 students who attend, and have always attended, a state school or college in the UK.

There are then additional criteria, the more of which students meet, the more likely they are to secure a place.

Additional criteria include being the first in their family to attend university, having been eligible for free school meals and achieving 5 A*-A grades at GCSE.

Recent analysis of UCAS data found that young people who took part in a Sutton Trust Summer School between 2006 and 2016 were four times more likely to receive an offer from a top university than their classmates with similar grades and from similar backgrounds.

Applications for UK Summer Schools are now open and close at 17:00 on Thursday 28 February 2019. Applications can be completed online.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), said:

“We are thrilled to begin a new partnership with Cardiff to offer young people the chance to experience undergraduate life in Wales. Cardiff’s medical school offers unbelievable high quality which we want our students to experience.  We look forward to building on this partnership in the years to come.”

Scott McKenzie, Cardiff University’s Head of Widening Participation and Community Outreach, said:

“It’s great to work with the Sutton Trust to boost the aspirations of Year 12 pupils and offer them valuable experience of undergraduate life at Cardiff University. This fits perfectly with the University's civic mission to work with schools and other educational partners to help support improved educational attainment.”

We aim to offer flexibility and choice in our programmes, as well as developing additional routes of entry.