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What is the A*spire Programme?

The A*spire Programme is for our most able students. It is designed to expand their horizons, be challenging intellectually and provide support to assist these students to become competitive candidates for the most prestigious courses and universities.

What do students do on the A*spire Programme?

The programme is made up of a number of different elements which focus on university applications and super-curricular endeavour, including:

  • Expert Speaker Programme
    Leading university academics (Queen Mary, London, Royal Holloway, St Mary's Twickenham) deliver high level, subject specific sessions. This encourages students to engage on a theoretical level above and beyond A Level, expand their learning by being exposed to new subjects and to make links across academic disciplines.
  • Staff-led sessions
    Strode’s staff-led sessions is an area where the A*spire Programme offers something different. This provides a provision above and beyond the curriculum and the opportunity for students to engage with academic theories, which go beyond the parameters of their A Level syllabi.
  • Group Task
    Each year A*spire students are required to research and present on a particular area. The subjects are always very varied and designed to challenge and expand intellectual horizons away from the curriculum. Recent topics have included: Design and architecture of the London Olympic Stadium; History of Computer Science; Brexit and the Qualities Act 1910.

How does the Programme support students?

  • A*spire is designed to enhance the super curricular experience. Students are encouraged to complement and expand their learning with public lecturers, wider reading, academic podcasts, accessing academic radio and TV programmes, completing MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and attending museums and exhibitions.
  • Alongside these opportunities they are also encouraged to apply for a wide range of outreach opportunities offered by leading universities and charities such as Oxford Pathways, Cambridge Shadowing, Headstart and Sutton Trust Summer Schools.
  • Students also receive one-to-one support to ensure they apply to the right university, the completion of their personal statements and the entire application process.

How successful is the A*spire Programme?

The expectation is that everyone on the Programme will go to the most prestigious universities (Russell Group). Of the 2017-19 cohort, circa 45% of students applied to Oxbridge and Medicine/Veterinary Science. Two A*spire students from this cohort will be taking up places in Oxford University in the autumn of 2020, following a Gap Year.

Of the 2018-20 cohort, circa 60% of students applied to Oxbridge and Medicine/Veterinary Science. Three A*spire students from this cohort hold conditional places at Oxbridge, a further two have conditional offers for Medical Schools, with latter figure quite possibly rising.

In the past two years students who went through the A*spire programme have gone onto The University of Oxford to study, Biochemistry, History, PPE and Engineering. While the vast majority of A*spire students have gone onto study at the Russell Group, including highly competitive courses such as Computer Science at ICL.

“The A*spire Programme’s greatest success is to encourage those students, whose parents did not go to university, to be as ambitious as they can be and successfully apply to the country's top universities.”
John Marrill, Gifted and Talented and Oxbridge Coordinator.

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