In the East Midlands, the thought for students from districts such as Mansfield and Ashfield attending any university can be daunting. With the closest nearby cities of Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield and Lincoln at least a 45-minute journey- attending university is something that simply is not available to students on their doorstep, and can be a huge challenge compared to students living in cities. This year I have had the privilege of working with students attending Ashfield School- a large comprehensive school, with approximately 90 Post-16 students receiving their A Level results this year. For many, attending university will be the first-time students have left home for any prolonged period of time, and they may also be the first in their family to attend university.

Over the last year, I have seen students develop their confidence to not only consider making that bold step to attend university but move away from their hometown. This year saw TAP students applying to universities across all four corners of the UK- from Sussex, to Norwich, to Edinburgh, and Belfast, and nearly anywhere in between! The Access Project doesn’t just help students gain the confidence to consider moving away from their hometown, but to consider the best available university for each student- many of which will be further away from home.

As results day arrived this year, it was a delight to see many students achieve their dreams of placing for very competitive courses, such as Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, and highly competitive universities, such as The University of Cambridge. None of the students on our programme from Ashfield School found themselves placed in clearing this year. Not only did this reduce the number of tears on results day, but is such a great indication of the sheer hard work our students have put in- with some even achieving straight A*/As.

For all of these students, as they prepare to pack their pots and pans, and work out how to cook their signature pesto-pasta dish to perfection, I will be reflecting on their journey to fantastic universities will open up opportunities and doors to discover a world, and potential career, outside of their hometown

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