Young people reach for excellence


Two hundred A-level students from across the region will take part in an intensive programme of activity aimed to help them succeed in their studies - and aim for a place at a leading University.

Funded by a charitable donation from the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation, the Reach for Excellence programme will give these bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the best possible chance of fulfilling their potential.

The students have been drawn from schools in Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield, Doncaster, Sheffield, Barnsley, Nottingham, Bridlington and North Yorkshire. Each has been identified as having the aptitude to do well and progress in their studies. Between now and the summer of 2013, the students will be given advice sessions and lectures, subject workshops and academic taster sessions to help them to make decisions about courses and future careers, opportunities to interact with other high-achievers from similar backgrounds to inspire them to aim high and ease their transition to university.   This summer, a five-day residential in a Leeds hall of residence, with a mixture of academic and social activities, will give them an early taste of campus life. The schools and colleges involved are:
  • Leeds: Abbey Grange, Allerton High, Lawnswood, Notre Dame, Roundhay, Leeds East and Leeds West Academies;
  • Bradford: Aire Valley, Beckfoot, Belle Vue, Bradford College, Buttershaw, Carlton Bolling, Dixons, Feversham, Laisterdyke, Queensbury, St Benedict's and Thornton Grammar;
  • Kirklees: Batley Girls High, Greenhead, Heckmondwike, St John Fisher;
  • North Yorkshire: Harrogate Grammar, Wensleydale, Thirsk;
  • Wakefield: Wakefield College;
  • Doncaster: Danum and Outwood Academies;
  • Calderdale: Hipperholme and Lightcliffe, Todmorden;
  • Barnsley: Barnsley Academy;
  • Nottingham: Wales High School;
  • East Riding: Headlands;
  • Sheffield: Notre Dame.

The 200 young people will meet for the first time on Saturday when they will enjoy an intensive but enjoyable day of presentations and activities. They will then follow an 18-month programme delivered both in their schools and in the University of Leeds to encourage them to stretch themselves in their studies and aim as high as possible

It builds on the success of a pilot scheme which the University ran for three years. It has proved a great success:
  • The 390 students who completed the pilot programme achieved, on average, better grades at A-level than those from a comparison group who did not go through the scheme;
  • 87 per cent of these students gained a place in higher education compared with 65 per cent of similar students in the comparison group;
  • More than twice as many of them achieved a place at a research-intensive university, such as Leeds;
  • They were significantly happier about the amount of information and guidance they received to help them to make decisions about university;
  • Fewer were concerned with the debt they were facing as a result of their studies.

The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation has agreed to fund Reach for Excellence for five years - and, in addition, to provide 20 scholarships each year for young people who progress through the scheme to win a place at Leeds, helping to relieve the pressure of debt during their studies.

Ceri Nursaw, Head of Access and Community Engagement at the University of Leeds, expressed her gratitude to Liz and Terry Bramall for their support for the scheme. "We know this programme works. There are many students at universities around the country who are progressing towards good degrees, who might never have achieved their full potential without it.

"Now, 1,000 more young people will benefit from this programme between now and 2018 - and 100 of them will receive scholarships. The support offers new, brighter horizons for these remarkable young people and will genuinely transform lives."

For further information:

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email

Notes to editors:

  1. The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. Leeds was shortlisted for the University of the Year award in the Sunday Times University Guide 2011 and the National Student Survey (NSS) 2011 found that 86% of final year students are satisfied with their experience at Leeds - up from 82% last year. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015.
  2. Since the establishment of the University's first widening participation strategy in 2000, more than 200,000 young people, adult learners, teachers, parents and careers advisers have benefitted from a wide range of activities including work with schools, community outreach and financial support for students from underprivileged backgrounds.
  3. The three-year pilot Reach for Excellence programme began in 2007 with the aim of supporting young people who demonstrated the potential to study at a top university: