Harris Experience Advanced
Harris Experience Advanced was launched as a Federation Sixth Form academic enhancement programme in January 2013. Since then, we have had close to 200 of our gifted and talented students in Year 12 and 13 participating. In the Year 2013-14, we succeeded in bringing nine students to Oxbridge interviews, of whom four were offered places. We also gained three medical places and one dentistry school place. Many of our Harris Experience Advanced students were successful in their applications to Russell Group universities.
The Harris Experience Advanced programme lasts for the duration of the sixth form, from early selection in the autumn term of Year 12 to final Year 13 exams. The programme aims to give our most academically able students outstanding preparation for some of the country’s top university destinations, including Oxford and Cambridge. Students have automatic entry into the programme if their GCSE average point score is above 50 points. Later in the autumn term, more students are added on their teachers’ recommendations. Once selected, students will need to agree to be on the programme and to attend the compulsory sessions – usually three a year in Year 12.
In Year 12, Harris Experience Advanced students are given the opportunity to meet each other at least three times a year as a group, to share ideas and to take advantage of special programmes like the MeDCAS programme and the Oxbridge Programme. They also receive clear and tailored advice about top level university entry and we teach students how to build up a competitive profile. They are expected to apply for and to attend extra-curricular academic events. Examples of this include Sutton Trust or UNIQ summer schools or a residential on a subject of their choice at Oxford or Cambridge. They may also go on university visits, attend special university events and the like. They will be given guidance on applying to Russell Group universities and they will be tracked carefully, whether that relates to their personal statement writing or their current grades. They may even receive extra academic support where appropriate. In Year 13, their involvement in the programme will depend on their university choices. They have access to individual help and guidance throughout the year.
Students will be prepared for this in Year 12. There is a session at the end of Year 12 for those interested in applying and provided their final AS grades are suitable for Oxbridge entry (normally at least three grade A’s) they can choose to apply to either Oxford or Cambridge in August/September of Year 13. From this point onwards, applicants will be given intensive preparation, including support with their personal statements, guidance on required aptitude tests and essay submissions, help with selecting the right college and interview preparation.
This runs throughout Year 12 and early Year 13. The programme is currently supported by MeDCAS, an outside agency based at St. Barts Hospital, and comprises sessions on practical medical skills such as taking blood pressure, suturing, first aid and so on, as well as preparation for the UKCAT and BMAT exams. MeDCAS also support students with gaining work and voluntary experience as well as helping students prepare for interview preparation and advising them on the quality of their applications.
It is hoped that Harris Experience Advanced students will work hard to achieve top A Level grades and aim for Russell Group universities. They are also expected to spend time with some of our younger students on the Harris Experience programme (Years 9 and 10) to help foster academic confidence and raise aspirations.