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Ilkley Grammar School celebrates record breaking Oxbridge offers


IGS students who have secured places at Oxbridge and apprenticeship offers with Mrs Purnell (Headteacher), Mr Gutch (Deputy Headteacher) and Mr Fox (Assistant Headteacher-Post-16

Ilkley Grammar School is celebrating university and apprenticeship success as the Class of 2023 secures a record twelve Oxbridge offers, with many more students receive offers to study on exciting courses at universities across the country.


Now that the UCAS application deadline has closed, IGS is starting to see a more detailed picture of 2023 destinations as university offers start to come through thick and fast. Most students have yet to make their final choices but offers have been coming in from universities across the country – from Southampton to Glasgow and from Belfast to Newcastle – to study on courses as diverse as Environmental Geoscience, Anthropology, Japanese, Aerospace Engineering, Urban Planning, Triple Languages, Children’s Nursing, Film Making, Forensic Psychology, Fashion Buying, Sport and Exercise Science, Neuroscience, Global Environmental Change and Osteopathy.


Mr Gutch, Deputy Headteacher says ‘while the summer exams are now very much on the horizon, it is also an incredibly exciting time for students as they start to receive offers from their chosen destinations and they come one step closer to securing their future pathway. All of a sudden, the dream of leaving home and moving to study in a city starts to become a reality and their academic studies and wider personal development take on a whole new meaning as the passports to this exciting next stage of life. In addition to this, an increasingly large cohort of students is making the decision to apply for the rich range of apprenticeships on offer and, although these involve competitive interview and assessment processes and have challenging entry requirements, this pathway also opens up hugely valuable and life-changing opportunities for students.’


Although the application window for apprenticeships remains open until after results day in August, several IGS students have already received offers for highly competitive degree level apprenticeships including Eddie Allister from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and Ellie Wilson from Deloitte. About his decision to pursue the apprenticeship route Eddie said “I have chosen a degree level apprenticeship because it will give me the opportunity to gain practical experience in a real-world environment while I work towards my qualifications.”

Following two successive years where 8 Ilkley Grammar School students each year secured places at Oxbridge, this year a record-breaking 12 students have received offers to Oxford or Cambridge with the number of successful applications entering double figures for the first time. This means that over the past 3 years 28 students have received offers from Oxbridge and the Post-16 team are now able to draw upon a large pool of IGS alumni to support new applicants to Oxbridge and other destinations each year.


Congratulations go to Elise Abbott (English Literature and French, Oxford) Thomas Abel (History, Oxford), Billy Caswell (English Language & Literature, Oxford), William Duffield (Chemical Engineering, Cambridge), Esme Gutch (English Language & Literature, Oxford), Sean Hayes (English, Cambridge), Joseph Leach (Mathematics, Oxford), Dan Logan (Engineering, Cambridge), Leo-Lord-Cloke (History of Art, Cambridge), Ben Redman (English, Cambridge) and Harry Shaw (Chemistry, Oxford). One further student, currently on a Gap Year, has secured an unconditional place to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge.


This year 5 students have secured places at Oxbridge to study English either as a single or combined honours. One of these students, Billy Caswell, attended The Skipton Academy (TSA), IGS’s partner school within Moorlands Learning Trust, before joining Ilkley Grammar School Sixth Form and has secured an offer to study English Language and Literature at Oxford. He is the first student from TSA to achieve an Oxbridge place since The Skipton Academy joined Moorlands Learning Trust and started to develop close post-16 links with Ilkley Grammar School. English teachers from both schools who have taught Billy over the years are justifiably very proud of his achievements so far.


After receiving his offer Billy said ‘We are all very grateful for the ongoing support that we receive in the sixth form. We are lucky to be given such encouragement and instilled with confidence by friendly staff who help pupils to get where they deserve to be.’


Starting in Year 12 and throughout the application process, individual Oxbridge preparation at Ilkley Grammar School was complemented by weekly support sessions with live virtual Q+A sessions with visiting speakers and also with alumni who shared their experiences of applying to Oxbridge organised by Mr Sykes who oversees the wider Next Steps programme. Oxbridge applicants also benefitted greatly from a series of mock interviews offered by a number of local contacts and the school is very grateful to them for their support as it enabled students to gain invaluable experience of talking passionately about their subjects with an expert they had not met before.


Part of the process also involved preparing applicants for not receiving offers in the knowledge that at the very highest level there is always an element of chance. Alongside the successes there are of course several very talented students who were disappointed this time but who have very bright futures ahead of them. An essential ingredient in success is the importance of being unafraid of, and unembarrassed by, disappointment and all the students who applied to Oxbridge this year, indeed all students who have taken a risk and aimed high have displayed that quality. We are very proud of every single one of them.

None of these offers would have been possible without the support provided by all the members of the post-16 team and the support of the subject teachers who invest so much time and energy in supporting the academic and wider development of students and who provide specialist support and advice of the highest quality.


Headteacher, Carly Purnell, said: “We are delighted that the abilities and talents of 12 Ilkley Grammar School students have been recognised by such prestigious universities with offers in a diverse range of subjects. Applying to Oxbridge is always an extremely rigorous and character-testing experience. Students have each demonstrated huge ambition, resilience and exceptional academic ability and we are so proud of their achievements.


"Securing places at Oxbridge is a tremendous accolade but is only one measure of our success at IGS. We embrace the achievement of Personal Best in all of its forms and are equally proud of all of our post-16 students, many of whom are currently receiving offers on a wide range of competitive courses at universities, medical schools and high-quality apprenticeships. We hope that their success inspires all of our younger students to work hard and aim high.”


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