Photo credit Toby Phillips
Nine Christ’s Hospital pupils are celebrating news of their university offers from Oxford and Cambridge, following a gruelling application process. The successful students come from a diverse range of backgrounds, including students on bursaries, something Christ’s Hospital prides itself on, as it provides free, or places at a substantially reduced cost, to over 650 pupils each year.
“It is very impressive to see our pupils enjoying Oxbridge success. In an important sense, this is a victory for all pupils here. It also proves how transformative the power of education can be when, regardless of background, children are in an environment that frees them to like their learning. ” states Simon Reid, Head Teacher at Christ’s Hospital.
The path to university is well travelled at CH, with 98% of pupils going on to university, but it is a tremendous achievement to have nine Oxbridge offers out of a relatively small Year 13 cohort of only 129 pupils. Interestingly, unlike other independent schools, 87% of CH’s main intake come from state schools.
Will Richards, Head of Sixth Form, said: “As a school, we are immensely proud of the achievements of our Sixth Form students. These offers of places at Oxford and Cambridge are thoroughly deserved by our students, due to the combination of their academic ability, their determination to do well and the drive they have shown in developing both their subject knowledge and their wider leadership roles during their time at Christ’s Hospital.”
CH pupil Martha, from Seaford, East Sussex, who has been offered a place at Oxford University to read German and Beginner’s Arabic, spoke of the application process being very long: “I had to take a few language aptitude tests first and once I had passed them, I was invited for interview. I stayed in Oxford for a full week as I ended up having five interviews!”
In preparation for their applications, CH students underwent a thorough and detailed support programme. As part of this programme, the students received detailed input into many different facets of a successful application, including how to select the right college, understanding the grades they would need to be successful and effective interview technique. The students also visited other Sussex-based schools to complete a mock interview, a valuable process in supporting them to become more proficient in discussing their views and abilities in their chosen subjects.
CH pupil Juliet, from Horsham, is “extremely excited” to have been offered a place at Oxford to read English Language & Literature. Juliet wrote and published a fantasy novel at the age of 15, something that must have helped her application stand out from the crowd.
Oxford and Cambridge universities place ever more weight on students’ supercurricular pursuits. “Supercurricular” is loosely defined as anything that falls outside of normal lessons, but is specifically related to the subject the student wants to study, such as entering essay competitions, attending talks, pursuing work experience placements and other challenges. “All of our successful candidates have amassed a vast portfolio of supercurricular activities and these portfolios will have played a large part in their successes at interview,” says Mr Richards.
Six of the nine CH pupils have secured offers from Oxford University to read subjects including Classics, English, PPE, Music, Economics and German; three further pupils have been offered places at Cambridge University to study Architecture, Computer Science and Human, Social & Political Science. Despite lots of hard work still ahead of them to achieve their grades, they are now fully motivated to secure their places.
Meanwhile, Mr Richards says that CH has “recently launched our new Oxbridge Support programme with our current year 12 students of whom around a quarter are interested in the challenge of applying to Oxbridge for 2021 entry. We are hoping for similar success stories with our 2021 Oxbridge cohort so we wish them well with this challenge.”