Introducing Russell Group routes to KS4

The direction of the current Dfe is clearly one that holds great reverence to the Russell Group Universities and the route they offer for young people. And, I’ve found, that over the past few years more and more KS4 students have wanted to discuss what they would need to achieve to ensure that the top Universities are still a viable option for them when it comes time to apply.

So what resources are out there to use with, particularly KS4, Secondary school students to satisfy this and nurture this desire to study at our best institutions?

First Introductions

Education is…

A short video from Cambridge University, which in a superficial marketing way, tries to get across the point that people from lots of different backgrounds from all over the country can go to top a highly prestigious University. I’ve used this after a group task where I’ve asked students to draw what they imagine a Cambridge student to look like and then compared their highly stereotypical drawings (some Year 11s seem to believe that Cambridge is basically Hogwarts) with the people in the film.

A Guardian article about which A Levels some Universities prefer, which might be useful to spark small group work of looking at prospectuses for entry criteria and reporting back to the class


The recently revamped Unistats site is a brilliant compare and contrast tool for this sort of thing. The employment and entry statistics are clearly laid out and it’s simple to compare to other institutions to highlight both the high UCAS points needed but how this is, usually, shown to make a massive difference to the salary statistics after finishing the course. PPE at Oxford or Economics at LSE are both good for eliciting interest as their graduates quickly achieve high earnings after their course finishes.

Another thing KS4 students love to do on this site is track down the course their older siblings are currently studying at and laugh dismissively at the puny wages and terrible employment chances their brother or sister faces.

More In-depth

To accompany their indispensable booklet, ‘Informed Choices,’

the Russell Group have also released a video which reinforces the “facilitating subjects” line while Dr Wendy sits about in graveyards looking concerned (no, really). The actual booklet is a photocopying budget assassin, so don’t print it off. When working with individuals I tend to email the link to their school email address so they can look at it after the session.


Subject matters

The University of Cambridge run these sessions for Year 11s, usually in the winter months, to also advise on suitable A Level choices. They do charge £5 a pop and, from feedback from parents who have attended in previous years, they don’t cover anything different to the “Informed Choices” booklet or in the pdf on the site

I think, to be quite honest, this fulfills a need for the parents to go along to Cambridge and make themselves known by asking questions rather than a need for the students.

Year 10 Challenge Days

Cambridge promote these as enrichment opportunities for able or gifted students which is true, but they can also fulfill a useful need for widening participation and IAG. If I’m lucky enough to get some students on them, I will usually get there early and do a bit of a walk around the town centre and, if you’re fortunate enough to find a nice proctor, you might get to walk around the grounds of Kings which gives them a bit of a wow.

Outreach teams

At this point geography becomes important. Outreach cannot be underestimated in its impact and, to give them their due, both Oxford and Cambridge have always been very flexible to offering outreach visits and work with us. Maybe it’s because we’re easily reachable by road from both. Over the past few years both Universities have sent representatives to our Year 11 Careers Fair and Oxford have sent a team of current students who presented to a KS4 group


This can be very important. Keeping in touch with past students who are willing to come back into the school and talk about their own journeys can be very powerful IAG and it’s something I know I need to take more advantage of.

Companies such as Future First

offer paid for services to assist schools to build up alumni networks. Although, in the days of more and more official school twitter accounts

and official Facebook groups, keeping up to date with ex students should be easier than ever.

As ever, I would be very interested to hear of other people’s experiences of getting KS4 to begin to investigate Russell Group options and resources you might have used. Get in touch!


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