Widening Participation: All Saints Catholic School

2 November 2018
2 November 2018 Dr. P. Baptiste

I was delighted when Stephanie Fontaine, a teacher at All Saints School, enlisted my help for some of her brightest students. Together with another staff member and our tutors here at DreamSmartTutors we delivered a four week programme with students.

The programme was primarily for students who were applying to medical school but the course was adapted for students who were applying to Oxbridge to study a wide variety of subjects. The workshops began during the summer month of August 2018 and ended during September 2018. Each workshop was one day on the weekend, outside of school hours.

The students were in year 13 and needed help in the following areas:

  • Personal statements
  • BMAT and UKCAT preparation
  • Mock interviews including interpersonal and communication skills

Course structure (adapted for the students’ requirements)

Week 1: BMAT and UKCAT exams

The first workshop was solely for the prospective medical students . During this one day course we spoke to students about the medical school entrance exams. We prepared them with an overview with useful tips to help them maximise their success.

We then worked through a series of questions, step by step as a group but also giving the students many chances to tackle the questions individually.

Week 2: Personal Statements

At this point in the programme the students did not have a draft of their personal statement. Prior to this workshop we emphasised the importance of writing their statement early and bringing a draft to the session.

The course started with general information about the personal statement. This was followed with real examples of statements from successful applicants to medical school.

The students then worked in groups with each DreamSmart Tutor to work more closely on their statements.

Week 3: Mock interviews part 1

The aim of this course was to really focus on the students’ communication and interpersonal skills for their up and coming interviews. We began with a morning of discussing the various types of interviews and how to excel at this stage of applications.

I enlisted the help of three professionals to help students prepare for part 2 (see below):

  1. Abimbola Olabode: Former footballer. Future medic at Bristol Medicine School. MA in Neuroscience – KCL.
  2. Ola Sanni: Trainee Solicitor at the London Office of White and Case LLP and co- founder of the Widening Access Network (WAN).
  3. James Odukoya: Consultant at EY. University of Bristol Economics and Finance graduate.

The professionals explained the interview ‘do’s and don’t’s’ with examples of ‘good and bad’ interviews. They then spent some time speaking about their own careers to motivate, inspire and educate the students.

Week 4: Mock interviews part 2

This course built on the previous course with the students being split into two groups.

The two sessions were:

  • Interview practice in the form of 13 minute stations, including feedback from the interviewers.
  • Presentation skills and public speaking.

There was also a panel of professionals who spoke about their careers:

  • Shelina Hopper- Accountant
  • Terri Gym -Accountant
  • Dr. Adwoa Danso -GP
  • Elsy – NHSE lead pharmacist for specialised clinical commissioning
  • Mike Ehima- GP trainer
  • Kwasi Yeboah- Future trainee solicitor
  • Milambo Makani- Future trainee solicitor

Additional support

In addition to the above we offered students ongoing support in the aforementioned areas. We read and provided detailed feedback for several drafts of their personal statements. We offered further support with BMAT/UKCAT questions. We also offered work experience and a first aid course to the students but due to unforeseen circumstances at the school the latter could not occur.

Feedback from the staff and students

I really enjoyed the day, it was extremely insightful. Very happy! -Armel

It was very useful as I learnt a lot such as to develop my points when speaking. I should also ask a question at the end of an interview. Overall it was a positive experience and I found my weaknesses and what to improve on. – Habeeb

Very helpful, useful tips and constructive. I would certainly recommend it. Amazing experience as it helped me improve my skills in an interview setting. Constructive critiscm was useful in understanding how to improve. – Simi

This entire interview experience was great and very insightful. It’s helped me to learn how to behave in an interview. I also gained confidence and the knowledge needed to aid me in the future. I would recommend this interview practice for everyone. – Priya

The interviews were extended useful in providing me with more information about the process itself and the way I should be answering questions. The feedback I got will be applicable to my future and I’m grateful for the experience. – Agne

 

Helping other schools

We are always keen to work with schools in a similar manner and we are open tailoring our programme further for specific groups of students. However, one of the common themes we have noticed is that when our help is enlisted it is often during the later stages of the university applications. A key point here is that applying to competitive courses like medicine and places such as Oxbridge requires a great amount of planning and preparation early on. Therefore, if you would like our help students should ideally be in year 11 and above. Of course we will continue to help students at any stage of their application process but better results will be achieved all round if students are prepared before year 13.

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