Year on year the success of Loreto students applying to and receiving offers from top universities is impressive: 2018 is no exception. The twenty-two Oxbridge offers cover a range of subject areas at the two globally respected institutions, from Natural Sciences and Engineering, to History and Philosophy. The total number of successful applicants has nearly tripled, to 63 offers in three years.

The successful students come to Loreto from a variety of non-selective, state inner-city high schools from across the region, including Tameside, Salford, Stockport and Manchester itself. Those with Oxbridge potential are identified by GCSE results and academic performance once they arrive. They are then offered a bespoke programme designed to develop students’ debating and thinking skills, whilst providing insight into, and knowledge of, the application process. It includes presentations from university staff, a competitive university conference and a number of practice interviews. An in-house team of specialist teachers has years of experience in guiding applicants successfully. Academics from both universities regularly visit Loreto and deliver a range of sessions including subject specific classes and application seminars. They aim to make sure that the students are suited to the demands of Oxford and Cambridge and will thrive in the demanding academic environment.

Loreto College is the North West lead of the Cambridge University HE Plus Hub. This initiative is designed to challenge academically the brightest young people in our inner cities, to raise aspirations and encourage applications to very selective universities. Each year over two hundred students from Loreto and other partner schools and colleges take part in a range of academic extension classes, degree level masterclasses and visits, which develop and challenge them throughout the year.

In addition, the college is instrumental in helping to address the national shortage of doctors and other healthcare practitioners; this year 50 students have been offered places on medical or dentistry or veterinary degree courses. They are given rigorous interview preparation with a strong emphasis on the scientific aspects of the various courses and career paths, as well as being encouraged to engage in broader reading, to consider ethical issues and participate in debates. The college has developed superb connections with the community outside Loreto, ensuring that students are involved in summer schools, conferences, visits and forums, and take full advantage of opportunities presented by leadership and research projects, locally and internationally. One element of this wider engagement comes in the form of Loreto’s remarkable success in entering students for the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. The college is one of the premier centres of student participation in the award scheme and is the biggest provider in the Greater Manchester area. There are currently over 150 students working towards Gold and Silver awards.

The college is not prepared to rest on its laurels however and is looking constantly at ways to improve. Feedback from students highlights the bespoke guidance offered, allied to hard work and perseverance, as being crucial factors in their success. They also cite the importance of seeking out opportunities beyond the curriculum, demonstrating initiative and looking for work placements and experiences in addition to those facilitated by the college.

Principal, Ann Clynch said “We are very proud of our students. For them to achieve such success in a climate of increasing competition and with the added pressure of entrance exams and an intensive interview process is impressive”.