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Programmes for High Flyers: Reach

Are you considering applying to top research universities or degree apprenticeships?

Hereford Sixth Form College supports academically gifted students to realise their potential to win places at the highest ranked universities and degree apprenticeships in an increasingly competitive environment.

This is achieved through the quality of our subject teaching and our Reach programme, which is a bespoke course of lessons of one hour a week from January of Year 1.

Reach gives students the knowledge so they can make an informed choice which top universities or competitive apprenticeships they want to apply for.

It is worth noting that many degree apprenticeship applications are after the UCAS deadline, so many students consider both options.

Students take part in Reach, and after 6 months decide if they want to go through early application (to Oxford, Cambridge, medicine, vet med or dentistry) or go to other top universities and options later.

Why 'early applicants'?

Those who choose to apply for Oxford or Cambridge, or to medicine, vet medicine or dentistry courses are known as ‘early applicants’ as their university application must be in by October, rather than the normal date of January.

Do Reach students have to apply for Oxbridge or medicine based subjects?

Reach is not solely for Oxbridge or medical based students. The majority of Reach students progress through the programme and find the places and courses that are right for them. Many of our brightest students choose other top research universities such as: Imperial, UCL, LSE, Durham, Bristol and St. Andrews, to study some of the most competitive subjects. Many students now also consider degree apprenticeships, which are exceptionally competitive. Reach helps you excel, regardless of where you apply.

Reach also now supports applicants considering applying to universities in the USA, Ireland and Continental Europe.

What do Reach lessons include?

  • Workshops on the application processes to give personalised support to our most able.
  • Subject enhancement – support with super curricular extension activities to demonstrate candidates' potential for academic excellence in their chosen subjects.
  • Preparation for universities' own Admissions Tests, or Thinking Skills Assessments: an increasingly common requirement for Higher Tier(Russell Group) Universities.
  • Intensive interview preparation and presentational skills training.
  • Using our close working relationships with Oxbridge colleges' Schools Liaison Officers and Admissions teams; Admissions Tutors come and deliver sessions on Personal Statement writing and Interviews at the college.
  • Privileged access to universities' widening participation initiatives available only to the maintained sector.
  • Tutoring for the STEP tests for Mathematics.
  • Specialist careers support from our staff, but also from our increasingly successful alumni who return to mentor current students.
  • Access to a range of international opportunities including Sutton Trust US and UK, Villiers Park, UNIQ, CanBridge, and Summer Schools.
  • A range of options of trips to many universities, but also to Oxford, and Cambridge.

Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine

These students have their own distinct support programme run by the Careers Department. These students take part in Reach, and have additional support, including:

  • Advice on work experience and volunteering.
  • Advice on wider reading and research.
  • Access to specialised university taster sessions.
  • Individual and group mock interviews.
  • Talks from former students, professionals and specialists in these subjects.

Medicine is also one of the most popular streams on the Academic Masterclass lectures, delivered by senior medics and former medics on our site.

Oxbridge: how successful are we?

The competition for places at Oxford and Cambridge has been increasing steadily since 2000, but the number of places available remains much the same.

Hereford Sixth Form College continues to have national success with their Reach cohort, and we now have amongst the highest percentage of applicants to offers in the sector. In 2022, 20 students received offers, of 64 who applied. This represents 31% of those who applied. The national average is lower than 20%.

  • 22 out of 58 applicants received offers for 2021.
  • 31 out of 74 applicants received offers for 2020. 
  • 17 out of 51 applicants received offers for 2019. 
  • 21 out of 57 applicants received offers for 2018.

All of my teachers and the careers staff have been very supportive and helpful. My tutor read over my personal statement multiple times, as well as the Oxbridge Co-Ordinator, Politics and Philosophy teachers. Applying to Oxford felt like a pipe dream; the HE+ programme and support at HSFC made it feel achievable. Every one of my teachers goes above and beyond with workshops and help inside and outside lessons.

Meg Hopkins (Politics, Philosophy and Economics Applicant 2019)

What do competitive universities want?

It is increasingly clear that Russell Group admissions tutors now focus almost exclusively on academic excellence (already demonstrated and potential), plus enthusiasm and aptitude for their subject. Subject specific Admissions Tests or Thinking Skills Assessments set by universities are increasingly the norm for higher tariff universities.   It is worth noting that these are often during October half term holiday.

Extra curricular activities count for much less than in the past. So, while the College provides every opportunity for students to participate in Sports, Music and the Arts generally, this programme is about academic success.

Lecture at Christ's College Cambridge during a trip

Lecture at Christ's College Cambridge during a trip

Who can join Reach?

The Reach programme is open to those who already have a proven track record of academic success, but also those who show excellence on arrival at Hereford Sixth Form College.

All students with five or more 7/8/9 or A/A*s at GCSE are automatically enrolled on the programme.  However, contextual information is considered to explain why an evidently gifted student gained fewer GCSE at this level than might otherwise have been possible.

The Reach programme runs in parallel with (and in addition to) the Academic Masterclass lectures.

Subject Choices

For some top universities, they may want students to have only A level subjects. Some traditional subjects may be favoured by some universities, especially in Maths, the Sciences and Law. If students would like more information about subject requirements, particularly if they are considering the competitive universities, please do get in touch. We are happy to give advice. Advice is also given at enrolment.

Please contact Senior Progression Lead, Vicky Orsmond: vjo@hereford.ac.uk, or Careers careers@hereford.ac.uk if you have queries.

2021 Oxbridge Offer Holders

2021 Oxbridge Offer Holders