Seaford College Year 13 pupil Anna Kleinova has been offered a place to study Modern Languages at St Hilda’s College, Oxford University. The offer represents a success for Seaford’s new Academic Enrichment programme, which was created by Headmaster John Green last year and is overseen by Head of English John Doy, who himself studied at Oxford’s Mansfield College. “It’s our first time through and we’ve had a win, so I’m pleased,” said Mr Doy. “Anna deserves it. She’s worked really hard.”
The Academic Enrichment programme allows academically gifted students to reach their full potential by stretching them beyond the curriculum in a stimulating way. A mentoring system gives Gifted and Talented pupils additional one-to-one time with relevant Heads of Department, helping them to feel supported in their studies, rather than pressured.
Mr Doy sees his position as an SEN role (Special Educational Needs) for the Gifted & Talented students at Seaford. “We get results but without the hothouse environment that can be harmful to some pupils,” he said. “We encourage a balance between academic excellence and extra-curricular activities, in which Seaford rivals any school.”
John Green, Headmaster, added: “Seaford excels at providing learning enrichment at all levels. The academically gifted need to be supported and stretched to make sure they achieve their potential. John Doy’s role reflects Seaford’s ethos: to inspire personal ambition and success so that personal bests are achieved inside and outside the classroom. John has studied at Oxford University and is in a great position to guide and mentor students. I’m very pleased to see the work he and his team have done has paid dividends. We’re extremely proud of Anna.”
“I found doing work beyond the standard curriculum really interesting,” said Anna. “I definitely felt supported here and that I was really stretching myself.” Her teachers also found the experience of mentoring her enjoyable and rewarding. “I learnt a lot as well,” said Mr Thorpe. “I hadn’t done German poetry for years. It was great reprising that.” Mr Doy added: “I brushed up on my Italian literature quite a bit – that was an unexpected pleasure.”
Along with other Seaford students in the programme, Anna attended an introductory conference at Portsmouth Grammar School, which gave the pupils an idea of the Oxbridge application process. She was then taken up to Oxford for an open day and shown around the different colleges by Mr Doy.
“At first I went in wanting to know how Oxford worked, although I didn’t think I would apply,” said Anna. “Mr Doy explained the whole process. The main thing is that I saw that I could do it. He made me see it was possible.”
Mr Doy was able to help Anna with her personal statement, which is an integral part of the Oxford application process, alongside her mentor Mr Thorpe, who continued to stretch her beyond the standard curriculum. “People sometimes don’t realise that it isn’t just language at A Level – pupils are having to understand quite complex current affairs and political and social issues as well,” said Mr Thorpe. Both teachers also regularly gave Anna extra lessons covering German and Italian literature.
Students in the Academic Enrichment programme were then taken to Oxford for a day of practice interviews and Mr Thorpe was able to introduce Anna to past pupils who had been accepted at Oxford. “It’s very important that pupils are able to talk to people who are quite near to them in age who have gone through the process themselves,” said Mr Thorpe.
The programme allows Seaford to support academic high-achievers throughout the school and its effectiveness is demonstrated by Anna’s success in the exceptionally competitive Oxbridge application system, which saw her competing with the most academically gifted children in the country.
“I’m starting with the Year 12 pupils again,” said Mr Doy. “We’re having another day at Portsmouth Grammar School in February, which was where I started last year. Psychologically, it’s important for pupils to feel they’re part of the Oxbridge process. We’re also identifying pupils from Year 9 onwards who have the potential to join the programme. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we’ll achieve this year.”