Three Oxford blues for Clayesmore

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Three students at Clayesmore School are celebrating after they all received Oxbridge offers.
Seth, who now has a place to read German at St Hilda’s College, was quick to say that none of the friends felt confident in their applications: ‘We were all expecting to be rejected. Reaching the Christmas holiday was a relief, but then it was a very long wait!’

From L-R: Tasmin J (Chemistry at Hertford, Evie A (English at Balliol) and Seth C (German at St Hilda’s)

‘It was a really long, hard process, and you have to do it on top of your already-packed A level studies’ says Tamsin, who was offered a place to read Chemistry at Hertford College.
‘By the time we had done everything we could and it was out of our hands, we were shattered!’ agrees Evie, who is thrilled with a place to read English at Balliol College.
So what made them stand out from thousands of applicants?
‘It’s not as predictable as you’d think’ says Tamsin ‘another Chemistry student in my year got the same predicted grades as me, does as much extra-curricular activity as I do, and yet they weren’t offered a place.’
‘I think it’s a lot to do with you as a person, how you come across in an interview’ agreed Evie ‘most students should have the same level of subject knowledge and the part of the personal statement that allows for describing your extra-curricular activity is tiny. It never even came up in my interview.’
‘Nor mine’ agrees Seth, ‘but I think that all my extra activities and my job in Tescos have built me as a person, and that’s what shines through. I was originally applying for a different college, and it was suggested I’d fit better at St Hildas – it was more of a personality fit, and it was absolutely the right decision.’
Tamsin added ‘I don’t think they’re looking for specifics so much as an inquisitive and can-do attitude. I actually said in my interview – which was filled with impossibly hard maths – that 2×1 equals two, so they’re obviously not looking too hard at the interview specifics!‘

Thank you Mr Carpenter
Do the teenagers all have a firm career plan mapped out?
‘Journalism, or perhaps a documentary maker’ says Evie. Tamsin added, ‘You’ll end up in politics, you’ll be great!’
Seth is aiming for a probable career as an academic, following a traditional Masters-PhD-lecturer route, though he acknowledges he’s also drawn to education as a career.
Tamsin cheerfully admits she’s open to what the future holds ‘Chemistry often leads to law or politics, as it aligns with the analytical thinking, but I’ve no fixed ideas yet.’
Were the Clayesmore staff keen to push the teenagers on to the Oxbridge route from the start?
‘Not in the least – we had to ask for it!’ says Evie
‘The school have been amazing.’ agrees Seth. ‘Absolutely no pressure, but once we decided it was the right plan they just scooped us up and supported us the whole way.’
‘We couldn’t have managed without their amazing support’ says Tamsin. ‘I’m not even an English student, but Mr Carpenter (senior deputy head and English teacher) gave me so much time and help. He even let me take over his office to practice in the week running up to my interview.’
‘Mr Carpenter was amazing!’ Seth and Evie exclaim simultaneously in agreement.
Clayesmore are proud to be a school that doesn’t focus on a traditional academic route, but instead ‘celebrates future thinkers, makers and creators’. Other student’s have offers from Durham, Warwick, Exeter, Nottingham and the Royal Agricultural University, to name but a few, with an excitingly diverse range of courses including History, Nursing, Architecture, International Festival and Events Management, Journalism, Fashion Marketing and Management and Global Sustainable Development.
Jo Thomson, head of Clayesmore, says, ‘As ever, I’m incredibly proud of all our pupils. Their success is a direct result of their hard work and commitment, and their teachers’ unwavering belief in every single student’s potential.’

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