The Gifted and Talented programme extends across both Years 12 and 13. Students are identified as part of this cohort by virtue of their academic performance at GCSE level or their talent in certain areas of the curriculum, for example art, drama or music. The programme offers individual advice, guidance and support to each student in response to their particular needs and aspirations. The aim of the programme is that, when each student leaves Parrs Wood at the end of Year 13, they are able to pursue the university course or career path of their choice.
Students of this calibre are encouraged to aim high and, in the past two years, our students have performed extremely well when applying for places at medical school, Oxford, Cambridge and Russell Group universities. Overall, the vast majority of Gifted and Talented students go on to Russell Group universities, apart from those who apply to specialist colleges for subjects such as art, drama or music. A small number take a pre-planned gap year or enter employment directly, often via a Higher Apprenticeship route.
At the heart of the Gifted and Talented programme is a series of one-to-one interviews with the Gifted and Talented mentor. Each student has a least one such interview per term, but there may be more depending upon the student’s needs and it is during these interviews that they are encouraged to research their choices thoroughly, before reaching any final decisions. Once their decision is made they are then guided through the relevant application process, in particular they are given support in writing a highly persuasive personal statement. Where relevant, interview preparation is given, culminating in a practice interview with a professional in the relevant discipline. Our interviewers currently include a professor of Astrophysics at Manchester University and a consultant Clinical Oncologist from the Christie Hospital.
This individual support is backed-up by group activities where relevant. For example students considering applying to Oxford or Cambridge are taken to the Oxbridge Conference in the spring of Year 12, followed, in the summer, by visits to the Oxford and Cambridge Open Days including an overnight stay in college. Medical applicants attend the Christie Hospital Taster Day in March of Year 12 and are then able to apply for work experience at the hospital in the summer. This year we have invited into college members of the Oxford University Access Staff, consultants and junior doctors from the Christie Hospital and the Manchester University Admissions Officer for Dentistry to speak to our students and answer their questions. But perhaps the most important input comes from Parrs Wood alumni, all of whom have recently been through the most competitive selection processes and been successful. This year we have been visited not only by medical and dental undergraduates, and students studying at both Oxford and Cambridge, but also by students who have taken a gap year before entering university and those who have entered employment directly via apprenticeships. Year 13 students also play a big part in mentoring Year 12 students who are just beginning to research their options.
Overall, the Gifted and Talented Programme at Parrs Wood is a team effort with contributions from a wide variety of people, all with specialist knowledge of a particular area. But the most important members of that team are the students themselves. If they are prepared to make the most of the opportunities the programme offers them, they will almost certainly achieve their aspirations.