The Oxford Access Scheme, based at the University of Oxford, is to encourage 100 children aged 13 and 14 from schools all over the country to become its ambassadors. They will follow a four-year programme of activities in a bid to raise the aspirations of talented students from schools which do not send children to top universities.

The Oxford Access Scheme Ambassador Programme, sponsored by the Sutton Trust educational charity and a private donor, will be aimed at schools with no record of sending students to Oxbridge and little history of sending students to any of the other 17 leading universities belonging to the Russell Group. This programme is the latest in a number of innovative projects created by the Oxford Access Scheme, a student-led organisation set up by Oxford students and tutors in 1990-1 to encourage more students from inner city and lower-income backgrounds, especially from minority ethnic groups, to go on to university.

One Year 9 pupil will be chosen this summer from each of 100 schools and colleges to participate in four years of residential and day events leading up to university application. They will attend the Aspire, Build and Challenge Summer School for Year 10 (children aged 14-15), a team-building residential in Year 11, followed by the Shadowing Programme and one of the Personal Development Summer Schools for Year 12 run by the Oxford Access Scheme. Students will be selected on the basis that they will remain on the programme for four years.

Maxine Lyseight, Co-ordinator of the Oxford Access Scheme, said: “We are very keen that these students serve as Oxford Access Scheme’s ambassadors to their schools, helping to diffuse information about other OAS initiatives amongst their peers and encouraging the young people around them to fulfil their potential. This ground-breaking programme is designed to support its participants through the crucial years of their school lives, enabling them to embrace as broad a range of options for their future as possible.”

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, which was set up in 1997 to help non-privileged children, said: “Our research shows that there are currently hundreds of children in many schools who are talented enough to go to Oxford and other top universities but do not go there for a number of reasons. Some underestimate their own talents, and their exam success is known too late in the admissions process. Others fear they won’t get in to the top universities, or fit in if they are offered a place. We have been working with the University of Oxford since 1997 on Year 12 summer schools and know how positive they can be. But we also know that there are some people who slip through the net before they get to that stage. The University is to be congratulated on its support for this latest imaginative OAS scheme to reach them progressively from the age of 13+.”

The closing date for applications is Friday 27th May 2005.

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