Axminster scheme launched to boost high fliers

ASPIRE is a unique college-based programme designed to raise the aspirations of gifted and talented learners

A NEW initiative to encourage high flying youngsters was launched at Axminster on Friday.

ASPIRE is a unique college-based programme designed to raise the aspirations of gifted and talented learners.

It aims to secure the highest attainment at GCSE and A Level, to enable learners to progress to the top universities and best apprenticeships and to overcome economic and social disadvantage faced by some learners.

To achieve these long-term aims The Axe Valley Community College has developed a programme that is designed to raise aspirations, equip and motivate learners with excellent learning habits and life skills and develop a broad intellectual and cultural curiosity about the world. The programme is delivered in partnership with Exeter University, local and national businesses, charities and gifted and talented organisations.

ASPIRE is tailored to the needs of each learner taking in local Year 6 primary school children as well as students from each year group up to Sixth Form.

The programme includes a wide range of activities — day workshops delivered by experts or visiting artists, writers, cultural trips, residential courses, ‘master classes’, and one-to-one mentoring sessions.

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The older learners also have access to additional courses such as the Extended Project Qualification. All learners are nominated if their attainment is in the top 10 per cent of their cohort.

Headteacher Martin Smith said: “ASPIRE is a highly ambitious programme. We want our gifted students to have the opportunity to work alongside exceptional people who are leaders in their field, including lecturers at Exeter University and scientists from the MET Office. The programme has taken six months to plan and represents one of the most ambitious projects we have undertaken. I am looking forward to seeing the learners thrive.”

* The college is determined to ensure that social and economic disadvantage does not hold back learners from achieving their potential so as a result they are aiming to recruit at least 20 per cent of learners who receive free school meals.