Oxbridge colleges are reaching out to pupils from the state sector. Biddy Passmore and Dorothy Lepkowska report
ACADEMICS at Cambridge University are encouraging high-flyers from one of Britain's most deprived areas to consider studying for a degree.
St John's College and Lambeth Council have developed a scheme in which bright pupils will be given additional teaching and support designed to give them the confidence to broaden their horizons and apply to universities.
The scheme, Encouraging Ambition and Generating Learning Expertise, or EAGLE, has been launched with three secondaries - La Retraite RC Girls, Charles Edward Brooke and Archbishop Tenison's schools in the south London borough.
St John's has appointed graduates as mentors and pupils from the schools have visited the college to find out about university life.
Professor John Goddard, Master of St John's College, said: "If we encourage even one person to apply to university who would not otherwise have done so, we will consider this a success.
"However, we very much hope that some of those involved in the EAGLE project will apply to Cambridge and St John's."
The scheme is backed by the Department for Education and Employment. Dr Kim Howells, the lifelong learning minister, said it "demonstrates St John's College's commitment to extending access to higher education".
Lambeth's education committee chairman, Ty Goddard, said: "This scheme is a fantastic way to help high-flying Lambeth students widen their horizons and to encourage many more to set their sights on a challenging future."