On Thursday 24th February, Chigwell School organised and held an event to remember: the Oxbridge Potentials event. Year 12 students from 3 different sixth forms (Chigwell School, Woodford County High School and Barking Abbey School) took part in the informative event. The high-achieving students benefitted extensively from this half-day off timetable to find out more about what the university application process will be like and what a degree in their preferred subjects may look like.  

Prior to attending the event, the students were required to specify what they wish to pursue at university level - at this point in time. The students, who voluntarily signed up to take part, all received name tags which displayed their full names, the school which they came from and the name of the course they would like to apply for (for example: Law, Natural Sciences, Chemical Engineering).  

The day commenced with all the students and teachers gathering in the school canteen for a magnificent breakfast service offered by the host school. Following this, the students were guided to the sixth form area in order to separate into subject groups. Until break time, the groups delved into the realm of their specific subjects, adjusting to the mindset and thought process they will have to maintain during their time at university. Ranging from making posters to giving presentations, the students were pushed to their limits by their teachers who were chosen specifically for the various subjects. At the end of the day, the sixth formers were even “grilled” by their teachers for the day so that the student could actively utilise the new information and have an idea of what it will be like in just over a year.  

During the day, the students had 2 talks about Oxbridge. The first was delivered after break time by the Headmaster of Chigwell School, Mr Michael Punt, who studied at both University of Oxford and Imperial College London. The Headmaster talked about his personal experiences at both institutions, and how he liked different things about each place – providing nothing but his purely honest opinions. To extend this, he was very open to questions and really encouraged them, answering all of them in great detail. In addition to this, the students also had a talk from an Admissions Tutor from Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, after lunch (which was also generously provided by Chigwell School). The “Oxbridge Potentials” were given information such as deadlines for Oxbridge applications, what exactly is assessed and, most predominantly, what the infamous interviews will be like. Some of the part-taking students found this to be the most enlightening part of the day, stating that they were informed of things they had not known were expected of them for Oxbridge applications.  

One of the participants of the event, Mahrosh Saleem from Woodford County High School, found that she genuinely profited from the day. She said, “It was really interesting to find out more about Human Rights, especially from someone who used to be a lawyer himself. I found it particularly useful to be taught how to think the way lawyers think, something which you’re not really exposed to at school”. 

Shazil Talal, who will be applying for either Structural or Environmental Engineering, said, “The bit that I found the most beneficial/enjoyable was the research project, typically in school we stick to the curriculum or only learn about what’s on the spec, but on the trip we had the opportunity to look at application of Physics and Maths in the real world. For example, I got to research the Millau viaduct, which is the tallest bridge on Earth. When researching, we got to learn about the design, unique aspects, challenges that the engineers faced, etc.”.  

The educational gathering gave the driven students a realistic insight into what applying to Oxbridge will look like in the next academic year. The host school, Chigwell School, did a praise-worthy job of welcoming the external students and making them feel comfortable. This opportunity to socialise with other (local) top students of the country was rather inspirational for each sixth former individually. The sixth formers made new friends, noted new information and enjoyed themselves within an academic environment.