High Flyers

Prior Support For High Achievers

At Prior Pursglove College we pride ourselves on having the specialist experience and expertise to support all of our students but feel that we really excel at supporting our high flying students. Helping them gain places on the most competitive courses at the most prestigious universities. Reading Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry, Pharmacy, AstroPhysics, BioChemistry and Pharmacy to name but a few.

In preparation for gaining places on the more competitive courses at the most prominent institutions we support our students by helping them build up an impressive portfolio of experience. This support come in many different shapes and sizes.

To give you an idea of the range of activities we encourage our students to become involved in take a look at the information below. Obviously in today’s climate these will all be virtual experiences and may have changed in different ways to make them safe for our students. I am sure there will be others too as we are constantly adding to our portfolio of student experiences.


These are offered by external organisations and give students the chance to develop their thinking and problem solving skills and to find out more about life at university.

Nuffield Research Placements are funded by the Nuffield Foundation and delivered by STEM and they offer up to 1000 placements a year for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access university courses and careers in STEM. During the Summer break with the support of researchers and industry professionals, students work on a range of projects which do make a meaningful contribution towards the work of the host organization.

Find out more: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/sciencebursaries-schools-and-colleges BMAT & UCAT

The Maths, Biology & Chemistry Olympiad challenges and stimulates students with an interest in Sciences & Maths to expand and extend their talents. The annual competition is designed to challenge and is not easy but gives students the chance to develop their thinking and problem-solving skills, and the test their knowledge of Science and Maths in real-world situations. The first-round tests students’ knowledge through a written test, successful students go on to the second round which is a stimulating long weekend of training and assessments, ending in a theoretical test. The top students get the chance to take part in the International Olympiad. Students are given Bronze, Silver & Gold awards. The Science and Maths teachers at college help keep students informed of when you need to register and will help with the preparation.

Find out more –  https://www.ncl.ac.uk/sage/ stemoutreach/workshop

Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Competition: this enables Year 12 students to demonstrate and expand on their existing chemistry knowledge, skills and aptitude for analytical science through practical analytical experiments based on relevant societal or industrial problems. Each competition aims to provide some tasks which are relatively familiar to the students such as titrations and others which are likely to be unfamiliar, such as chromatographic separations or atomic and molecular spectroscopy. Prior hosts the competition in our science lab where up to ten teams of three students take part.

Find out more at: https://www.rsc.org/events/detail/33659/royal-society-of-chemistrys-schools-analyst-competition-regional-heat

Mock Law Trial Competition: this competition helps our students understand how the law touches every aspect of their lives, gaining an insight into how the legal justice system works. College is given access to resources, including specially written criminal cases, to help our students prepare legal arguments. Fully prepared, our students then take part in a regional heat and go head-to-head with other colleges to prosecute and defend the cases. Winning teams will then compete in a National Final.

Find out more at: https://smartlaw.org.uk/mock-trials/bar-mock-trials-teachers-2


There are also many initiatives that offer students the chance to stretch themselves academically and to experience university life. Often resulting in a reduced offer. Most of them do have quite strict eligibility criteria around widening participation but often there is a specific high-grade requirement. At Prior we have well established links with the universities and guide our students carefully so that they can access the top universities. Examples of some of the programmes we are currently involved with can be seem below:

Sutton Trust Summer Schools – these are offered at 13 of the UKs top universities covering 40 different courses. Students do have to meet certain eligibility criteria and for those who are eligible they can try a new subject, check to see if the subject they are interested in is the one for them, visit a university or city that which they’ve never been to before. All costs are covered – travel, accommodation, food and activities.

For more information visit: http://www.suttontrust.com/summer-schools

Durham University Supported Progression Scheme this programme is aimed at students in year 12 and provides the opportunity to taste academic sessions covering 24 subjects, students complete and receive feedback on a project, speak to current students about what student life is like and receive key information, advice and guidance about the application process. Successful completion of the course provides a guaranteed, alternative offer (typically two grades below).  The aim is to support students who are typically underrepresented at Durham. As places are limited and highly sought after, they use specific eligibility and selection criteria to identify successful applicants.

For more information visit: https://www.dur.ac.uk/supported.progression

Realising Opportunities (RO). This is an innovative national programme for eligible, talented students providing increased access to 15 of the country’s leading research-intensive universities. RIUs produce high quality research which makes new discoveries possible and contributes to increased knowledge for the good of society, RIUS seek to address global problems with cutting edge research. The programme involves a launch event with the host university, the chance to develop skill so of analysis, critical thinking and research through taking the RO academic skills module, support in making choices about HE, online support from current students and the chance to attend a virtual conference where they can meet likeminded students. Those who successfully complete the program when applying to any of the RO Universities will be given additional consideration and a reduced offer worth up to two A level grades will be

For more information visit: http://www.realisingopportunities.ac.uk

Aim for Oxford: this program aims to increase the number of students from the North East which are currently underrepresented at the University. It is open to Year 12 students who meet the eligibility criteria including GCSE profile and indicators of social and educational disadvantage. The first year of the programme involves 1-1 meetings, personalised advice and guidance, academic enrichment sessions, a summer independent research project and a four night all expenses paid summer school. Students completing Year 12 of the programme who go on to make applications to Oxford will progress to the Year 13 Programme, which will include interview preparation workshops, an academic support allowance to support attainment and preparation for Oxford and a two-night transition visit for each offer-holder.

For more information visit: https://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/study

Cambridge University Kings College Student Support and Access Scheme: this initiative aims to improve access for disadvantaged students and to increase the undergraduate intake, reserving 10 places each year from students from this program. The offer will include a pre A level tuition scheme, an intensive summer bridging program and increased advice and guidance.

For more information visit:  https://www.kings.cam.ac.uk

NU Entry at Northumbria University: this program aims to raise educational aspirations and recruiting high quality students, regardless of background, through a fair and transparent admissions process. Widening Participation remains a high priority and is at the core of the Northumbria University Supported Entry Scheme. It is a structured scheme for Year 12 students (or equivalent), who meet specific academic and background criteria. By participating in the NU Entry Scheme students will be provided with the opportunity to develop skills necessary for successful undergraduate study and have the opportunity to earn 16 NU Entry points, which are the equivalent to UCAS tariff points when applying to Northumbria University.

For more information visit: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/study-at-northumbria/information-for-schools-and-colleges/northumbria-university-supported-entry-scheme/

Next Step York University: this is a personalised activity programme for Year 12 students in the north of England, providing an opportunity to explore university options and receive specialist support with their current studies. It is aimed at pupils who have the potential to progress to university but have experienced barriers that may prevent them from accessing higher education. Participants who successfully complete the Next Step York programme could be considered for a guaranteed interview or a Widening Participation grade offer which can be up to three grades below the standard offer given to applicants.

For more information visit: https://www.york.ac.uk/schools-and-colleges/post-16/next-step-york/

Hull York Medical Pathways: this is a widening participation programme run in conjunction with The Sutton Trust. The programme supports talented sixth form college students who wish to pursue a career in medicine and who meet the eligibility criteria. The Pathways to Medicine programme offers students a range of opportunities to give them an insight into the medical profession, support them through the application and selection process for medical school and prepare them for attending university. Successful applicants attend a virtual launch event, meet current undergraduate students to find out about studying medicine, work with doctors to discover more about what a career in medicine entails, take part in virtual workshops to help develop their understanding about applying to medicine and to develop interpersonal skills and have access to e-mentoring from a current undergraduate

For more information visit: https://www.hyms.ac.uk/about/information-for-schools/pathways-to-medicine

Pathway To Bath University: this is a free, online learning programme which gives students the chance to develop key skills for university study and beyond by completing their own project while working alongside experienced staff and current students. It is designed to fit around a busy A level (or equivalent) schedule and requires one hour a week to complete. There is also support with the application process, the chance to meet current students and to take part in a three-day residential. Upon completion of the program students who apply to Bath will receive additional consideration and those who achieve a B or above in the project will be eligible to receive an alternative offer, typically a reduction of one grade.

Find out more at: www.bath.ac.uk/campaigns/pathway-to-bath-programme

Newcastle Partners Programme: over 5000 students have studied at Newcastle University via the PARTNERS Programme since it began in 2000. It offers a range of support and opportunities to help students make a successful application to the University. Through the programme students can receive a lower conditional offer to the university, attend the Academic Summer School, develop skills necessary to be a successful student, meet other students and increase their confidence and receive support through the application process.

For more information visit: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/schools/partners/benefits/#overview

The Access to Leeds Programme: this is aimed at students who want to study an undergraduate degree at the university, but their background means they are less likely to attend University. Around 900 eligible Access to Leeds students register on an undergraduate course at the University of Leeds every year. Successful applicants complete an online module which consists of two parts study skills and a subject assignment, there is also support with the application process, a virtual Summer School and if they could receive a reduced offer up to two grades lower than the standard offer.

For more information visit: leeds.ac.uk


In house we also strive to make sure that in addition to achieving the best grades possible our students are well prepared and we dedicate a lot of time and resources to making sure this happens .

Extended Project Qualification: this is not exclusively for our high flying students but a number of them do take up the opportunity to add this to their portfolio. iIt involves an independent research project which the students take full responsibility for. The title, aims and objectives are the student’s choice, the scope the time frame and resources are theirs to decide, evaluate and reflect upon. This is the perfect opportunity for them to investigate a topic that they have a passion for. The skills that are acquired along the way are invaluable. Students are allocated a supervisor; whose role is help guide students along the way. EPQ starts at the beginning of the second year and is the perfect opportunity to develop the independent research skills that are highly valued by universities and an additional qualification equivalent to an AS level.

Work Experience: for certain careers work experience is vital in helping students get ahead of the game and for some careers it is essential. We can help you arrange specific work placements and have a range of contacts to help you get the experience you need.

Additional Tutor Group: students who are aiming for the more competitive courses at the top universities will become a member of an Additional Tutor Group. Here tutors are specialists in supporting applications to the more prestigious universities. Their expertise and experience in giving advice and guidance on the often complex application process is invaluable. They are also able to help with interview preparation, conduct mock interviews and offer additional support sessions to help students prepare for admissions tests such as The BioMedical Admissions test (BMat) and The Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT).

Virtual Team Med & Team Oxbridge – these activities brought together all of our students who are aspiring for careers in these areas or who aspire to study at these prestigious universities. Our Careers coordinator has pulled together a wealth of virtual activities, including virtual work experience, taster days, information about UCAT and live sessions with local universities about making most of year one as a medic. The Oxbridge team, received in depth information about admission testing, deadlines, delivered several live sessions about application, statements and interview preparation.