Students in an ex-mining town are set to get a boost to their dreams of going to a top university, thanks to a new initiative by Oxford University and an Education charity. The Access Project (TAP) & Magdalen College are launching a major three-year partnership on Thursday 6th February to help disadvantaged students at Ashfield School in Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

The Access Project runs a programme of personalised tuition & in-school support at Ashfield School, helping young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds improve their grades and gain the skills they need to apply for top universities. TAP’s students are four times as likely as similar peers to attend the most selective universities in the country.

The partnership comes as the university watchdog, the Office for Students has called for the “access gap” between wealthier and poorer students to be halved in five years. Young people from affluent areas are six times more likely to get places at the most selective universities.

Rebecca, a year 13 student currently on the programme at Ashfield school, feels incredibly fortunate that she has had the opportunities afforded by TAP: “A lot of students decide that they wouldn’t be able to get into a university like Oxford before even trying. The Access Project has helped to make applying to Oxford and studying there a realistic possibility.”

Dr Ed Dodson, Senior Outreach & Access Officer for Magdalen College says this is about reaching students who may feel selective universities aren’t accessible to them: Ashfield is a perfect school for Magdalen College to work with because doing so will enable us to reach out to students who might otherwise lack opportunities to learn about highly selective universities such as Oxford.” 

Over the next three years Magdalen College will help TAP deliver tutoring and mentoring support to 40 students at Ashfield school. This will include facilitating visits to the college, providing volunteer tutors & helping to resource the charity’s core programme.

Linda Maguire, Head of Sixth form at Ashfield School highlighted the importance of the TAP programme: ‘The Access Project exposes our students to contacts and experiences that they may otherwise not have. Over the last couple of years, students on the programme have secured places at the most selective universities.’ 

TAP Chief executive, Nathan Sansom, believes the new partnership with Magdalen College will make a profound difference to students at Ashfield: ‘It will be a great opportunity for the college and Ashfield School to provide opportunities for our students to experience a top university and see it as a realistic destination for them’.