Foundation supports top university opportunity

Hundreds of students from across Bedfordshire are being offered the chance to see just how far they can go as part of a new partnership with an Oxford college.

A £50,000 donation from the Connolly Foundation will offer more than 100 students from across Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire the opportunity to further their education at Oxford University’s Wadham College, in partnership with Redborne Teaching Alliance.

It is part of the college’s Bedfordshire Project, which aims to work with non-selective schools in the county to work with students and increase chances of their pupils from a disadvantaged background getting into highly selective universities.

It will be open to students aged 14-16 and will attend after-school master classes and have the opportunity to visit Wadham College, where they will meet with staff and students to find out more about university life.

After their GCSEs, year 11 pupils will also have the opportunity to attend Wadham for a residential course.

Nigel Croft, head of the Redborne Teaching Alliance and a trustee of the Connolly Foundation, said: “The Connolly Foundation exists to provide support for young people across Bedfordshire.

“I am delighted that the foundation has been able to assist with this opportunity for students who have the potential to benefit from a university education to find out more and hopefully to gain the skills and confidence to make informed choices that are right for them.”

The Connolly Foundation-funded expansion to the project is targeting six schools across the two boroughs, which are Biddenham International School and Sports College, Bedford Academy, Mark Rutherford School, Redborne Upper School, Queensbury Academy and Samuel Whitbread Academy.

David Bailey, Principal of Biddenham International School and Sports College said: “This is a great project for Bedford Borough schools to be involved as it will enable – and inspire – more students to go to top universities and follow their dream.”

Wadham College already has a similar programme in place with schools in Luton and the new partnership means that more than 20 schools across Bedfordshire are taking part.