Stretch & Challenge Summer School

Ambitious students at Solihull Sixth Form College received a boost to their Higher Education ambitions this week by attending the Stretch & Challenge Summer School.

114 of the highest achieving students in Year 12 at the College signed up to additional subject sessions and guest lectures to stretch their learning and challenge their critical thinking. Many will be applying to Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge Universities, which will require early applications, interviews and admissions tests. The Summer School sessions are aimed at assisting those students will the challenges they will face, by getting them to think critically and explore topics outside the curriculum.

Visiting speakers helped to get the students thinking about interesting and challenging topics. The Summer School started with a visiting lecture from Dr Steve Hewitt from the University of Birmingham, who spoke about the history of terrorism, policing and counter terrorism. Lucinda Rumsey MBE, a Senior Tutor at Mansfield College, University of Oxford, gave a virtual lecture about Oxbridge and how to aspire to be an Oxbridge student.

Other visiting speakers included a Biology lecture on Microscopy from Dr Mathieu di Miceli from Worcester University, a Criminology and Sociology talk on Cyber-crime from Matt Phillips at Birmingham City University and an Economics lecture from Dr Robert Riegler at Aston University. Leading mathematician Dr Nira Chamberlain OBE came in to deliver a Mathematics-related talk, while Abi Pacaud from Civil Engineers Mott McDonal gave a presentation on careers in Engineering. There was a Politics lecture about social media and politics from Dr Ross Abbinnett at the University of Birmingham.

Teachers at the College also delivered subject-specific sessions as part of the Summer School, with students able to book onto workshops across a range of curriculum areas including Business and Accounting, Computer Science, English, Film Studies and Media, Humanities, Law, Modern Foreign Languages, Performing Arts, Physics, Psychology, Social Sciences and Visual Arts.

The Summer School concluded with an additional Chemistry lecture at the end of the week, delivered by Dr Heather Rose from the University of Birmingham, who will be talking about the application of multi modal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in clinical research. A Medicine presentation from Newcastle University will be completed later this month.

Deborah Smail-Ross, a Modern Languages teacher and the Lead Co-ordinator for the Stretch & Challenge Summer School, commented:

“It has been great to get so many visiting speakers onto campus in person. I’m grateful to all the brilliant academics who gave up their time to work with our students, delivering fascinating lectures that really got them thinking. Our own teaching staff have also been tremendously supportive and delivered some exciting and stretching workshops. The students who signed up are aiming for some of the most competitive Higher Education destinations in the country, but this Summer School has set them off on the right path and will help them make the best applications they are capable of.”

17 June 2022