When Westminster School was first founded by the monks of Westminster Abbey, its goal was that of social inclusion.

Pope Alexander III decreed that the monks should provide free and enriching education to the local children, as he believed that access to academic pursuits and high-level teaching was something that should be available to all and not simply the privileged few. Over 800 years later that ethos of humility and social inclusion is still going strong and our Summer School programme is just one example of that.

We host two different Summer Schools each year, designed to give gifted Year 11 and Year 12 pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds a head start in preparing for their futures. One group of pupils comes to us from our partner maintained schools across London and the other group, coordinated by The Linacre Institute come from schools in Yorkshire and the north-east. Almost all the young people who attend come from schools in areas which rank in the bottom third in the educational section of the Index of Multiple Deprivation and more than half are from postcodes in the bottom 40% for rates of going on to university.

Wherever in the country the pupils hail from, each group comes to Westminster for one week in July to engage in a range of academic and extra-curricular activities, increasing their ability to be high-achieving and well-rounded Sixth Form pupils and ultimately gain entry to a top university of their choosing. Covering a range of disciplines, the sessions are specifically designed to extend pupils’ knowledge beyond the usual curriculum, with opportunities ranging from creative writing and mathematics puzzles to rocketry, rat dissections and rock climbing. There are also various outings to museums and galleries, talks from the country’s leading universities and a mixture of internal seminars and external careers events hosted by businesses from a wide range of sectors, including law, marketing, economics, politics and the Arts.

Pupils taking part in recent years have offered overwhelmingly positive feedback, making comment such as “I have made friends, gained confidence, and realised that I can reach for the best universities without doubting myself” and “I’ve developed a new way of thinking, learning to critically reflect on theories that I’ve perhaps never questioned in usual school studies”.

Thanks to our partnerships with The Linacre Institute, SHINE and Future Foundations, and through our own commitment to funding this initiative, our Summer School programme is completely free of charge for participants. The pupils are identified first through their own school systems, which pinpoint a number of talented young people who have some measure of disadvantage, before The Linacre Institute and Westminster selects a diverse cross-section of those individuals to attend the programme.

In addition to the immediate learning benefits, attendance at these summer schools allows pupils to access continued support and advice from our teaching staff, either on an individual basis or through an invite to participate in our University Preparation lessons throughout the year.

To find out more about our Summer School programme and how pupils can be put forward, please contact josh.moore@westminster.org.uk.