Project information

Make Education Equal Challenge

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are less than half as likely to enter higher education than other young people and this disparity is often most extreme amongst the most able. We work with able young people across the country to help them succeed through a variety of challenging activities.


Charity information

Villiers Park Educational Trust

Villiers Park Educational Trust logo
  • Need


    Able young people from disadvantaged backgrounds continue to fall behind their counterparts from more privileged backgrounds:

    • Private school students are 55 times more likely than students receiving free school meals to win a place at Oxbridge and 22 times more likely to go to a leading university (Sutton Trust)

    • Four private schools and one college get more students into Oxbridge than the combined efforts of 2,000 state schools and colleges ("University Challenge" by Allan Millburn)


    Our Scholars Programmes provide comprehensive personalised support from Year 10 to Year 13, aiming to overcome all the barriers these young people may face to success.

    Our Inspiring Excellence Programme provides transformational residential courses and online provision for able young people (60% disadvantaged). It develops their passion for learning and increases both aspirations and attainment. Last year 98% rated the courses as good/excellent.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Scholars Programme - Increase self-belief, resulting in an application to a leading university


    » Students experience a wide range of personalised support and interesting, challenging residential and non-residential activities

    We ask about improvement in a number of soft outcomes including self-confidence, self-motivation, resilience and study skills.

    Aim 2

    Scholars Programme - Students gain a place at the university of their choice and thrive once there


    » As before, we also work with the students' school and parents

    We monitor hard outcomes including GCSE and A-level results and the percentage going to university including a leading university - our target is for 80% to progress to university

    Aim 3

    Inspiring Excellence - Challenge and inspire students and develop their passion for learning


    » Courses are tutored by dynamic and enthusiastic postgraduate research students or university lecturers who engage students with degree-level material

    Our target is for 95% of students rate their course as Good or Excellent at the end of the course evaluation

    Aim 4

    Inspiring Excellence - Provides insight into knowledge they need to become an expert in their field


    » Within courses "Shaping Your Future" provides training/e-mentoring from business, providing an insight into the knowledge required to become expert.

    Our target is for 90% of students’ A-level grades to be A* to B and 75% progress to a leading university

  • Impact


    We monitor A level results annually and produce an annual Impact Report of soft and hard outcomes.

    Our on-going long-term impact survey asks former participants to reflect on their course more than five years after they took part, and to let us know what they've done since (university and current job).

    "Shaping Your Future" which provides links to business and industry will improve the prospects for these young people, not just getting to university but also when they graduate.


    As we have been running courses for 45 years, many of the potential risks have been addressed. However, our funding situation remains a potential risk and is being addressed through the recent establishment of a Development Office and a comprehensive fundraising strategy which is reviewed quarterly by our Trustees.


    To disseminate our results, outcomes are reported in our annual Activity Report, Impact Report, newsletters and on our website. Our education team also take part in conferences, workshops and professional groups, sharing knowledge and experience.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £60,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £40,000 Bursaries for 25 Scholars @ £1,600 for the full programme per year per Scholar
      £20,000 Bursaries for 50 courses @ £400 for a disadvantaged young person to attend a transformational Inspiring Excellence course
  • Background


    We work with young people from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Our residential courses are run from our campus in Cambridge. The Scholars Programme operates in Hastings and Swindon. Both have high levels of socio-economic deprivation. In the multiple index of deprivation Hastings ranked 19th most deprived of 326 local authorities. Also, few students from both areas progress to higher education; only 20.7% in Hastings and 24% in Swindon (HEFCE). The national average is 34.7%


    Young people from across the UK who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and who have high academic potential.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Villiers Park has an extensive track record of over 45 years in working with very able young people including through our well-respected five day subject-specific residential courses, which are recognised by UCAS as a key entry enabler to leading unversities. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with young people with high academic potential and their schools, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Richard Gould

    Chief Executive - has long-standing experience of developing strategies to meet the needs of very able post-16 students.

    Jeremy Reynolds

    Director, Scholars Programme - formerly Head of Sixth Form, Assistant Headteacher, and County Gifted & Talented Adviser in Hertfordshire

    Deborah Richardson

    Centre Director - responsible for designing, delivering, monitoring and evaluating the courses, formerly Head of Modern Languages in Secondary School.