How are senior pupils guided through the UCAS process?

You may have seen that Miss Tomlinson was recently quoted in the Sunday Times on a couple of topics. Here you can find her second topic in full:

'At St Margaret’s School for Girls the process of preparing pupils for UCAS applications begins as early as first year when girls begin to articulate their career interests in preparation for an English Speaking Board assessment. This continues throughout the subject choice process in second year, when each girl has an individual interview with the Head of Careers. It is not unusual for girls and staff to examine university websites together to inform choices at National 5. Throughout the year, we hold lunchtime careers talks to which girls of all year groups are welcome. Most recently, girls enjoyed a series entitled ‘Inspiring Women’, which has included leading academics such as Professor Mona Siddique and former pupils such as Muriel Muirden, Director of Strategy at WATG.

The involvement of careers organisation, Inspiring Futures, in which the school invests, brings a fresh perspective to the process, and in fourth year each girl enjoys an interview with the Inspiring Futures advisor in addition to her annual interview with the Head of Careers. Work experience is seen as integral to the process of selecting a university course and the seeds are sown for this in dedicated careers days in fourth year when girls hear from a wide range of professionals and visit the North Sea Headquarters of BP.

In June of fifth year girls benefit from a dedicated UCAS day at which Inspiring Futures staff and school staff guide them through the process which is to come. We run an Oxbridge and Early Applicants club to which we invite pupils from other local schools, and we draw on parents, former pupils and local professionals to give our girls as many practice interviews as they need. Each year we also invite back recent leavers to share their experiences and ‘top tips’ from the first year of university.

It is the norm for girls at St Margaret’s to continue their school education into sixth year, during which time they study at Advanced Higher level: the independent research which is an integral part of these courses is of significant benefit when beginning university level study. We also offer Open University courses to girls who are ready for an additional challenge alongside their SQA qualifications. Again and again, our leavers come back and tell us how much their work on projects and dissertations at Advanced Higher has helped them to approach university study with confidence.

Preparations for university study do not stop at the application process. Our sixth year conference and weekly sixth year enrichment programme are designed to prepare the girls to be the best they can be both in and out of the lecture hall. Workshops on nutrition, mindfulness, personal finance, first aid and fire safety are just some of the additional experiences we offer to the girls to ensure that they are as ready as they can be for life beyond our granite walls.'

Miss A. Tomlinson, Head

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