Covid-19 and Linacre – 12 May update

Covid-19 and Linacre – 12 May update

March 2020

Paul Coupar-Hennessy, Executive Director

By Paul Coupar-Hennessy, Executive Director, May 12, 2020

Hello all,

We have now revised our ‘Reach Higher’ programme in light of Covid-19.

We are excited about this alternative programme and looking forward to welcoming students to it.

We have taken the time to make sure we are confident that it will be as effective as our usual face-to-face programme. It will provide more time with experts than usual.

More information will go to students and schools soon but the programme looks like this:

– ‘Reach Higher’ launch on June 3rd, 2020, 7.30pm for selected students and parents (via Zoom). This will include input from a senior admissions figure at Cambridge University

– The Reach Higher ‘Common Room’ website. This new site will go live in early June. It will include:

  1. ‘University ready in my subject modules’ – a series of bespoke self-led independent learning modules in your subject. They will help in the skills and knowledge universities expect. They will be available to all students in Year 12 and 13 at our partner schools, and staff.
  2. ‘The Highly Selective Universities Masterguide’ – first-class resources and guidance we have used to help 910 students win an offer from a UK top-12 university. They will be available to all students in Year 12 and 13 at our partner schools, and staff.
  3. A chat area for Reach Higher students to discuss problems in the ‘University Ready’ modules.

– The Highly Selective Universities Advice Service – a way of contacting an expert for advice and guidance on applications via video call. This will be available to Reach Higher students in Ys 12 & 13 and to staff in our partner schools.

– Subject Guru tutoring (doubled in length compared with usual years). All Y12 Reach Higher students will be allocated a first-class tutor in June and will work with them once a week till January via video calls (25 sessions), consolidating key skills and knowledge and stretching towards Oxbridge entry level.

– ‘Stepping Stones to World Class Universities’ summer school. August 10-18. For Y12 Reach Higher students. As usual, intensive small-group work on admissions tests, interviews and subject knowledge beyond the curriculum. To take place in Cambridge if conditions allow, otherwise online via bespoke tutoring platform Bramble.

– Highly selective universities applications masterclasses. For Y12 Reach Higher students. To take place once a fortnight beginning June, via video link. Expert advice on choosing universities, Oxbridge colleges, personal statements, admissions assessments etc.

Please do note down the key dates.

We will be contacting schools and students in the next 10 days with an official programme overview for 2020.



April 21 update

Hello everyone. There is no new news at present other than that our Cambridge summer school (August 10-18) is currently still going ahead.

Within the next 10 days we will publish a full overview of our likely provision in 2020.

Stay well.

Very best wishes,



Good morning everyone. I do hope this finds you all well, and that you are managing to enjoy the sunshine.

  • We have begun putting in place support for Year 13s (Linacre students in 2019). If you have any issues or queries at all please email, and we will make sure you get fast, expert advice. More details next week on further support for Year 13.
  • We are now into our work planning 2020 Reach Higher Alternative Programme for Year 12s. This will take place largely online, with web resources and video calls and personalised support. I will be able to provide more details next week.
  • The Selection and launch day for Rotherham students – scheduled for Friday April 24 in Rotherham – has been cancelled. We will run selection for the Reach Higher programme online – more details inside the next week. Please apply here deadline is 4 May.
  • The Westminster Big Ideas summer school for Year 12 students in July has been cancelled / postponed. I will have more news on the replacement programme inside three weeks.
  • We still have some hope that the Cambridge ‘Stepping Stones’ summer school (August 10-18) may take place. If it does not – which is looking increasingly likely – we will be providing a direct equivalent online.
  • We have begun planning an exciting Alternative Programme to run if both Reach Higher summer schools both end up being cancelled. This would be online but would as far as possible recreate the community that is such a special part of the programme.

Do please contact me with any queries whatsoever. We’re here to help.



March 17, 2020 Update

Good morning everyone. I’m writing to update all our supporters on how the Coronavirus (Covid-19) may affect our programmes this year, and to let you know our thoughts.

I especially want to reach four groups of people:

  • Group 1: Students selected for the 2020 programme, from Wales High, Burnside Enterprise College, Hall Cross Academy, Ossett Academy, New College Doncaster and Penistone Grammar – as well as their and parents / guardians.
  • Group 2: Students thinking about applying from Rotherham via the Linacre and HEPPSY partnership and the application form available here: – as well as their parents / guardians.
  • Group 3: Students who took part in the 2019 programme and are now in Year 13.
  • Group 4: Decision-makers at our partner schools.

Our general thinking

I say every year to our students that there are many more important things in life than exam results, or which university you go to. It might not look like that at 17, and they are not insignificant, but the older you get the less important they seem. Your 80-year-old self will not consider them so very important. What people remember about someone is not what’s on an exam certificate, but whether they are a kind and good and loving person.

This message is important right now. It’s more important to pull together, do our civic duty, and, frankly, look after one another. The rest will sort itself in time. Perhaps quite a lot of time, as the latest scientific view is that the measures could last months. This background informs our response to Covid-19.

Firstly, we think it is important that people are reassured about what is happening as there is enough uncertainty already. Therefore:

  • We will post an update about the status of our events on the website (appearing on the home page) weekly – next one by Tuesday 24 March.
  • We will have made a final decision about whether events run by the following dates. All of these are final deadlines – we will try to make decisions earlier. There is a balance here between giving as much notice as possible and seeing how events unfold in order to make the right call.
    • Selection and launch day for Group 2 – scheduled for Friday April 24 in Rotherham. Decision by Tues 31 March. At this stage, this looks unlikely to take place. See below for more guidance.
    • Big Ideas summer school, scheduled for Sunday 5 – Friday 10 July in London. Decision by Tuesday 19 May.
    • Stepping Stones to World Class Universities summer school, scheduled for Monday 10 – Tuesday 18 August in Cambridge. Decision by Tuesday June 30.
    • Phone a Friend Tuition programme, scheduled to begin in early September. This looks likely to run as it does not involve any face-to-face contact. Decision by Tuesday July 14.

Specific messages to individual groups

Group 1: You will be concerned about whether the programme is going to run. We are discussing this as I write and I will keep you posted weekly. If the summer schools don’t run, we will look to provide alternative support for you.

Group 2: I very much encourage you still to apply for the programme. If we have problems running the summer schools, we will do our very best to offer alternative support for you. I will keep you posted weekly.

Group 3: I imagine you are all uncertain right now, and some of you will be anxious. If there’s anything we can do to help, get in touch by emailing me. I re-iterate the message above: the situation with your exams and university entrance will sort itself out. Try to stay in the moment and not to allow ruminative thoughts to run away with you. I’m very much thinking of you all.

Group 4: As mentioned above, we are working out whether the summer schools can feasibly run. It’s too early to make the decision now, but we will consult you before coming to any conclusions and will act with the wellbeing of students as our only priority. If they do not run, we will do our very best to make alternative provision. Again, please do get in touch with any queries at all.

With warmest best wishes to you all. Go well.