Merton’s pupils aspire to new heights

One hundred pupils from schools across Merton attended an event which aimed to encourage young people to progress to university.

Merton has a good track record in higher education success. It is ranked in the top 10 local authorities in England that have the highest proportion of students who go on to attend Russell Group universities (including Oxbridge), according to the most recent data from the Department for Education.

The event, called Higher Education Aspiration Day, was attended by pupils from Raynes Park High School, Rutlish School, Ricards Lodge High School, Ursuline High School, Wimbledon College and St Mark’s Academy – schools which already have good links with Merton College, Oxford.

Councillor Maxi Martin opened the morning session for Year 9 students, providing an overview of what it is like to study at university. The group also experienced a real life university taster session and a discussion of linguistics.

Leader of the Council, Stephen Alambritis, opened the afternoon session for Year 12 students. Pupils gained valuable advice on how to apply for entry to Oxford University, along with information on student finance. They also worked on a range of activities to develop their public speaking skills.

Cressida Ryan, Schools Liaison and Access Officer at Merton College, Oxford, said: ‘I was really impressed at how successfully the students worked together on the activities I set them. They showed a real engagement with the material beyond the school syllabus.

‘It was great to see so many students who are keen to set their sights high and put in the work needed to achieve their goals. Oxford and other elite universities aren’t mysterious neverlands, but real places to which Merton pupils can aspire and apply.’

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: ‘The event will help enhance the excellent track record of Merton school pupils progressing to higher education. This has provided a great opportunity for Merton pupils to find out more about university. I hope what they have learnt will encourage them to aim high, and go on to attend university.’