What is the High Achievers Academy for?

The best degree courses and the career opportunities they lead to are already highly competitive, and increasingly so. To get a place in one of our top universities, you will often have to beat over 20 other candidates per place; for some degree courses the ratio of applicants to places rises to over 60. You are competing not only with the best UK students, but also against a growing pool of highly-qualified international applicants.

The purpose of the High Achievers Academy (HAA) is to support students in making successful applications to these competitive courses. You will need to start planning and preparing early on, developing the evidence and the skills that will enable you to achieve your goals.

We do expect students in the High Achievers Academy to do well at College, and from time to time will review your progress with you, considering both predicted AS and A-level grades, and your other activities in pursuit of your own higher education and career goals.

What does it involve?

The High Achievers Academy programme aims to improve students’ academic confidence and discussion skills whilst allowing them to explore topics and ideas outside of their AS and A level curricula. This includes:

  • One timetabled lesson a week with a High Achievers teacher. These cover a variety of topics and the emphasis is on critical thinking, debate, discussion and divergent thinking.
  • 1:1 reviews and action plans to encourage and support students in becoming reflective learners who take responsibility for maximising their own potential.
  • Graduate employability information talks from  top universities.
  • Graduate employability information talks from  top universities.
  • Admissions tutor information session for Medics
  • European medic International tal
  • The opportunity to complete an Extended Project Qualification in an area of the student’s choice.
  • A variety of trips and speakers linked to specific subjects and wider UCAS and progression guidance.
  • Referencing and research methods.
  • Visits from universities to talk about studying at their institution and what it is like to study at and get into a competative Russell Group University.
  • UKCAT preparation session from Medic Portal

Extended Project Qualification

The EPQ gives you the opportunity to research a topic that you really enjoy in a bit more depth. This could be a topic that you have previously studied at school, are currently studying here at college or have never studied formally before but that you have a personal interest in. Once you’ve chosen your topic of study and have done a fair bit of research, you will then need to produce some sort of product. This product can either be an extended essay (5000 words) or can be something more practical, like a performance, a piece of art, a CD or DVD, or even computer software (the practical option will also have to be accompanied by a 1000 word report).

As well as carrying out your research and creating a product, you will also have to keep a production log. This will keep an account of important stages of your project and will ask you to review your progress at various key points. Towards the end of the project you will also have to do a presentation. This will be to the rest of your HAA class, where you will present your aims, research and findings, and will also document what you learned from the overall process and how you would improve it in the future.

The EPQ is offered to HAA students as it carries UCAS tariff points equivalent to an AS level. The EPQ is graded A* – E, and depending on your grade, you can gain anything up to 70 points to put towards your university application. Universities are particularly impressed by the EPQ since it illustrates organisational skills and independent learning, meaning that it is an excellent method of distinguishing yourself from other applicants. An important point to remember, however, is that since the EPQ carries UCAS tariff points, it requires a substantial amount of work: it is recommended that the EPQ should take around 180 hours, which includes research, planning, writing up and the presentation. It is worth bearing this in mind when you make your decision as to whether you should undertake the EPQ, and thinking carefully about whether you will be able to find enough time to do the project (and yourself) justice.

If you do decide to take on the EPQ, your HAA teacher will supervise you throughout the process. You will also be assigned a subject mentor from a background related to your project, although they may not be an expert which is worth remembering when you choose your topic!

Tabby Madni
High Achievers Academy 2013-15

The High Achievers Academy programme aims to improve students’ academic confidence and discussion skills whilst allowing them to explore topics and ideas outside of their AS and A level curricula. This includes:

  • How did the High Achievers Academy benefit you?
  • “It helped me to develop my critical and divergent thinking skills, which I applied in all subjects and now at university, predominantly during the analysis of exam questions. I received additional feedback form my HA teacher for my university application which was especially valuable as it ensured that my application was the best it could be before being submitted to various competitive universities.”
  • What benefits did you get from doing an EPQ?
  • “I completed an EPQ based on putting stem cells into the hippocampal region of the brain, and the impact this has on an individual’s memory. Completing the EPQ has been particularly helpful in developing assignment skills, such as carrying out extensive reserach, planning and writing an extended essay, in addtion to learning how to reference and cite works with the text, which has helped me significantly in essay writing at university.”
  • Would you recommend the High Achievers Academy?
  • “I would definitely recommend it as it provided a good stepping stone between college and university level work. In addition to this, it was useful to discuss different fields of interest outside of those in which I studied, which would be advantageous in a University interview. Completing the EPQ was the activity which had paramount importance to my further education, so I would highly recommend this course.”
  • Where are you now?
  • “I am in my first year at Lancaster University studying Natural Sciences, specifically pathways in Biology and Psychology.”