“It made the prospect of going to Oxbridge more attainable”: Newnham’s second Pupil Premium Open Day

Choosing the right A-levels, financing University, and tasting the College’s cake selection – some of the questions on the minds of the pupils attending Newnham’s second Pupil Premium Open Day.

Newnham College welcomed over 40 talented Year 11 girls to a dedicated Open Day, specifically for students eligible for Pupil Premium funding.

The College organised the event to encourage disadvantaged pupils to apply to study at Cambridge after it was suggested by a Head of Sixth Form and alumna.

The event is designed to be a friendly, relaxed and honest introduction to university applications, where young people can ask questions and be sure of an informed answer. Pupils asked about the aspects of university life that the glossy prospectuses don’t cover – from dealing with homesickness and worries about feeling out of place, to whether you can fail your exams. A team of current Newnham students shared their experiences, and reassured the Year 11 pupils that they could do it too.

Participants responded with enthusiasm, with comments including “the Q and A with the current students gave a real insight into the Cambridge Uni life”, “the lecture really gave a taste of uni education and also the financial advice put me at ease”, and “the talk about finance was very useful and along with the careers panel made the prospect of going to Oxbridge more attainable”.

The day included a taster lecture, advice on choosing A-levels, detailed information about financial support on offer, and a tour of the College. Newnham alumnae shared their experiences of finding jobs and where a Cambridge degree could lead to in a lively panel session.

All students who attended are eligible for the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG) – extra funding provided by the Government to help raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils of all abilities. Crucially, the Open Day is fully funded and sponsored in part by Newnham alumnae.. All public transport travel costs are reimbursed for girls and teachers who attend, lunch is provided, and accommodation is offered to those travelling long distances.

Dr Sam Lucy, Admissions Tutor at Newnham and Director of Admissions for Cambridge University, said: “It is an excellent opportunity to bring students to Cambridge and Newnham, to hear first-hand what studying here might be like, and the benefits it can bring.”

And, in turn, it’s a great opportunity for the College to hear young people’s questions and priorities, and to allow us to reflect on what we offer our students.

With such a range of talents and aspirations brought together, let’s hope it’s not the last time the College sees this group of girls.