The year 10 and year 12 visited the University of Sussex on Monday, enjoying a tour of the campus, talks from current undergraduates at the University about student life and an introduction to the University way of working, as well as to a new subject, Social Anthropology. The visit acted as a reminder to the year 12, and perhaps a lesson to the year 10, of the value of checking out potential University locations in order to get a real feel for a place. The insight in to University life was fascinating for our students, prompting a range of discussion and questions on their return, and the introduction to Social Anthropology was perfect in demonstrating the way in which University subjects may relate to, yet not completely correlate to, what you study at school. While our students have spent time in Cambridge, Oxford, at Imperial College in London and at the University of Kent before, the more Universities they can engage with as a result of their place on the programme, the better!

Monday evening saw the much anticipated inter-academy quiz, with the students teaming up with those in other cohorts who attend their academy to take on the other five in the network! While Oasis Isle of Sheppey came in to the evening as the reigning champion, Knole Academy triumphed, with the Marsh Academy coming a very close second. Either way, the quiz was great fun and a fantastic opportunity for the students to mix with those from their school, further consolidating links with those people part of the project they could interact with most in their everyday life!

Tuesday morning saw two external organisations deliver sessions, and we are very grateful to both ExScitec and the Higher Education Access Network (HEAN) for their visits. ExScitec introduced our year 10 and year 11 to robotics, challenging them to programme robots to navigate their way round a particular course. One of our year 10, when asked whether she had ever done anything like this before replied with ‘no, never’, before remarking how much she had enjoyed the opportunity – exactly the sort of thing we are trying to provide! HEAN specialise in personal statements and put on a bespoke session to our year 12 on how to think about, prepare and put one together – a crucial element of the application process, hopefully further helping our students to get ahead.

With just under 24 hours of the Easter residential to go the focus for the rest of the afternoon turns to the aforementioned ‘Apprentice’ project – excitement and tension are building as it nears a conclusion! It has been an action-packed day for the programme with various visitors, including a couple of our trustees, enjoying the spring sunshine with our students, adding a further vibrancy to what is going on.