Making a difference with Stepping Stones

Making a difference with Stepping Stones

April 2022

Sadly, the ongoing pandemic meant that we could not return to Cambridge this year, but we were delighted that our Stepping Stones online programme was a huge success, with over 80 students working in 19 different subject groups and supported by 34 dedicated teaching and interviewing staff.

Students broadened their knowledge and understanding of their subjects, working through challenging problems and concepts and our teachers also provided excellent practice for admissions assessments. We even had a social event involving online games and 8kg of Lego!

During the week we ran plenary sessions on a number of topics including choosing the right university for you and how to write a good personal statement. We got expert advice on applying to Oxbridge from the access teams at Trinity Hall and St John’s College, Cambridge. One student said; 

“The sessions at the end of each day covered everything that I needed to know for applying to university. They were planned well, and now I feel much more educated on where I might go to university and how to access information.”

Finally, our staff were put through their paces by playing the role of the student in Oxbridge-style interviews (and not necessarily in their specialist subjects). Our Programmes Director, Polly, admitted that she felt ‘really nervous’ being interviewed by Law specialist Alec Thompson from Girton College, but said;

“It’s really important to show students that it’s okay to feel those butterflies – everyone does – but there are techniques you can use to help you give it a go.”

We rounded off the week with interview practice for students. As one student commented;

“The interview sessions were invaluable, helping me  see that interviews are no reason to stress and most problems can be solved by logically working through the question, breaking it down until the key concepts and methods are clear.”

We’re so grateful to all our amazing staff for creating such a wonderful experience. But don’t just take our word for it – here’s what our students had to say:

“The teaching provided by Mason was exceptional in comparison to the depth and breadth at sixth form. We explored the physics curriculum deeply but also branched out further to areas outside the normal teaching specification.”

“I liked being in a small group of students as this made me feel comfortable and much more engaged than in a larger groups.”

“Stepping Stones has made my goal of being successful at a competitive university seem more manageable than I first thought. The staff have supported me immensely, giving quality advice, feedback and tutoring that were tailored to my own needs. Also, I now feel connected to a network of kind and selfless people that I can reach out to if I’m in need of guidance in the future. Linacre has raised my both confidence academically and on a personal level, but also acted as a spur, pushing me to ambitions that I now realise are realistic and within my reach.”

“I had not previously been able to explore the true extent of opportunities available to me but this programme has provided me with the knowledge and skills required to make the most of my potential and passion for my subject.”

“The lessons themselves awakened me to literature that is non-existent at A-level but there was never a moment that I felt lost; it was fascinating.”

“The summer school was an overall fantastic opportunity that has massively increased my confidence.”