The scheme is open to any student currently in Year 9 at one of the Kent Academies whom the school identifies as being capable of achieving a very strong set of GCSE results (5 A*s or better), and has the capacity to apply to a top university yet may experience a need or circumstance that might otherwise hinder their progress to higher education. The course is aimed at raising academic and career aspiration among these young people and improving their chances of attaining a place at university, particularly for those students who have no family background of university education. Therefore virtually every participant would be the first member of their family to attend a university and study for a degree, thus social mobility and academic aspiration are at the heart of the programme.
This support will help these students get into top universities in the UK. In each of the four years of the programme, the group of students will spend one week at Easter and one week in the summer away from their own school on a residential course in Kent. These weeks away will provide an opportunity to strengthen knowledge of core subjects and also provide the chance to experience a range of subjects and activities that will help them develop in other ways - activities in art, music, literature and science, for example. As students move into the Sixth Form they will also be given specific help in making an application to university.
Additionally, they will be provided with on-going mentoring from undergraduates and teachers, and opportunities to work collaboratively on projects over the four year programme.
There is no cost to the students on the scheme: funding has kindly been provided by The Sutton Trust, an organisation committed to the idea of promoting social mobility through education. Educational support will also be provided by Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, and has since been extended to include Oxford colleges as well.
The Academies that participate are:
Skinners' Kent Academy
Isle of Sheppey Oasis Academy
The John Wallis Academy.
Independent Schools that actively participate in the scheme include:
Alfred Nicol is the link member of staff between Benenden and the programme. He attends KAN meetings, interviews prospective candidates and teaches on the programme. In recent years the number of Benenden teachers who freely give up their holiday time to teach on the residential course has greatly increased, with representatives from a range of subjects delivering inspirational lessons to reinforce and stretch the participants' understanding and learning.
Benenden School hopes to host the residential course in the coming years.