Admissions Team visit the South-West

Admissions Team at Cheddar Gorge

(l-r) Dr Andrew Murray, Dr Stephen Plant, Pauline Kiesow, Dr John Biggins, Martin Walker and Helena Blair at Cheddar Gorge

Hello from Bristol!

I’m Helena, Trinity Hall’s Schools Liaison Officer (a role within the College’s Admissions Team). I’m writing this while on a four-day trip around Bristol and Bath schools talking to teachers and students about applying to Cambridge.

My role at Trinity Hall is focused on helping school and college students make informed decisions and aim high when applying to university. Trinity Hall aims to encourage all potential applicants regardless of background, though a large portion of my work involves running schemes that improve the progression of students from backgrounds with less tradition of studying at Oxford or Cambridge.

Trinity Hall works particularly closely with schools and colleges in Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire through the University’s Area Links Scheme – I spend a lot of time in the South-West!

Three weeks ago, I was also accompanied in Somerset by three Trinity Hall Fellows and two PhD students, who delivered subject taster sessions to over 100 16–17 year old students: Dr Andrew Murray delivered a Natural Sciences session on human physiology in extreme environments; Dr Stephen Plant (Theology, Philosophy and Ethics) asked students to consider “Are we making progress?”; Dr John Biggins explored the Physics behind gauss cannons and chain fountains (complete with demonstrations!); Pauline Kiesow’s group of students compared wars across history; and engineer Martin Walker explained multistable structures in nature and engineering.

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Dr Stephen Plant at a taster session with students

This was part of the HE+ Somerset programme that we co-coordinate with Cambridge Admissions Office and Somerset schools, which brings highly able students from ten schools together for at least three events over an academic year – two are hosted at a ‘hub school’ in Somerset (Kings of Wessex Academy in Cheddar), and the final is a residential visit to Trinity Hall. Through sustained
contact like this, we can help school students learn much more about universities such as Cambridge and Oxford, feel increasingly confident about the prospect of studying there, and become competitive applicants.

We aim to adopt this ‘collaborative programme’ model much more throughout our outreach work. On Wednesday this week, Dr Andrew Murray and I spoke to students from multiple schools in the Bath and North East Somerset region at an ‘Oxbridge Conference’ based at Hayesfield Girls’ School – we typically invite these students on a residential visit to Trinity Hall too – and we’re also
looking to establish something similar to HE+ in Bristol. Sustained and intensive outreach programmes make much more difference than one-off events – it’s brilliant to meet so many teachers, academics, students and outreach practitioners who are committed to helping them succeed. We’re all excited to see what difference we can make to improving access to Cambridge and Higher Education in general.