Students from disadvantaged backgrounds at a West Midlands school are to get support with their dreams of going to a top university, thanks to a new initiative by The Access Project (TAP) and Imperial College London. TAP & Imperial are launching a long term partnership today with Ormiston Forge Academy in Cradley Heath to help students improve their grades, make successful applications and transition to leading universities. The work supported by Imperial will also help students to catch up with their studies following the disruption caused by COVID. 

The Access Project runs a programme of personalised tuition & in-school support at Ormiston Forge Academy, helping young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds gain the skills and knowledge they need to achieve a place at a top university. TAP’s students are more than twice as likely as peers from similar backgrounds to attend the most selective universities in the country. 

Madison is a year 12 student at Ormiston Forge Academy and receives tuition in Biology. She says being on the TAP programme boosts her confidence: “No one in my family has been to university. Even just being on TAP gives you the push to say you have the potential to do well and this gives me so much motivation. Having someone that believes in you is amazing. I’m hoping to get A grades in my A-levels.”

Andrew Burns, Regional Executive Principal for Ormiston across the West Midlands, said: “The Access Project exposes our students to contacts and experiences that they may otherwise not have. This opportunity to join forces with Imperial will further expand our students’ horizons. During the time Ormiston Forge Academy has been partnered with TAP, students on the programme have secured places at the most selective universities in the UK.”

Dr Lisa Mason, Principal of Ormiston Forge Academy said: “I’m delighted that Forge is part of this vitally important initiative which gives our students better opportunities and experiences. For some of our students, removing those barriers to university is a challenge; having partners like TAP and Imperial, who want the best for our young people, is key.”

The partnership between Ormiston Forge Academy, Imperial College London and The Access Project will offer an intensive widening participation project grounded in the local community. It will involve student visits to the college, workshops, contact with academics, as well as preparing students to make strong applications, give effective interviews and prepare for admissions tests. 

Dr Annalisa Alexander, Head of Outreach and Widening Participation at Imperial College London, said: “We are really excited to be partnering with TAP and Ormiston Forge Academy on this innovative attainment raising programme. Helping students to achieve their potential in maths and the sciences lies at the heart of all our outreach and widening participation programmes at Imperial. Being able to provide that critical front-line support in school is the best way to ensure a pupil can succeed, regardless of their background or family situation and TAP provides just this. Students who have been part of the programme have achieved great things and we are looking forward to being part of that journey.”

TAP Chief Executive, Nathan Sansom, believes the new partnership will make a profound difference to students at the school: “It will be a great opportunity for Imperial College London and Ormiston Forge Academy to help students gain more knowledge about what it’s like going to a top university and how to get there. We hope it will enable young people on the programme to see elite institutions as a realistic destination for them.”

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