Bodmin College scheme recognised by National Awards for widening access to Higher Education

A unique aspirations programme at Bodmin College has been shortlisted for a national award. The ‘William Clift Academy’ has been recognised for the 2020 NEON (National Education Opportunities Network) College Widening Access Award.

“These national Awards recognise commitment to increasing access to higher education for everyone – but in particular for under-represented individuals and groups” commented Mrs Jayne Smith, Aspirations Coordinator at Bodmin College. “It’s all about widening access to opportunities, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. We are very proud to have been shortlisted and recognised for our commitment to social mobility.”

The William Clift Academy was first established in 2014 to raise aspirations amongst students and create opportunities to support their future ambitions. There are 20 Accessing Professions groups mentored by a member of staff in a range of pathways, from Performing Arts to Medicine.

“We connect students to an array of opportunities including summer schools and work experience, and our alumni are regularly brought back into College to share their experiences and inspire our students” continued Mrs Smith. “As a result of our programme, we have had three students move to the USA to study, each receiving bursaries worth hundreds of thousands of dollars; another who achieved an internship at Whitehall to name just two successes. Every student who applied for medicine over the last 6 years has gained at least one offer, and our first veterinary applicant ever went to RVC in 2018!”

The William Clift Academy was named after a Bodmin boy in the 18C who was helped by a local philanthropist to become a renowned anatomist/illustrator; this name epitomised the desire to succeed and also the “leg up” that is so often needed. 

“Over the last few years, we have all worked tremendously hard to ensure our William Clift Academy is a purposeful, inspirational and exciting programme designed to support our students to achieve their goals. Being shortlisted for this award helps us to build momentum with increasing numbers of Bodmin students engaging in exciting opportunities. The work of the William Clift Academy is mainly based in our sixth form and has developed into the Emerging William Clift KS4 and the William Hamley Academy KS3 – now coordinated by Rachel Devine.”

NEON was founded in 2012 as the professional organisation to support those involved in promoting social mobility through widening access to higher education. NEON brings together Higher Education Institutions, schools, colleges, the voluntary sector, professional bodies and employers.

“It is fantastic that our William Clift Academy has been recognised in this way and it demonstrates that the principles of widening participation are embedded in everything we do here at Bodmin College. We are all very proud of the staff and students who have contributed to helping more young people have the chance to study at University” continued Mrs Smith. “We continue on our mission to raise aspirations of our students, supporting them in their learning journeys and offering each and every one of them the chance to reach their full potential; to thrive and succeed. We would like Bodmin people to feel proud of their community and look outward at the plethora of opportunities on offer.”

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Award Ceremony intended to take place in May at The Palace of Westminster has been postponed until October.

“We know that opportunities can help influence and shape the lives of our young people, broadening their horizons and showing them what they can achieve if they follow their dreams” commented Ms Emmie Seward-Adams, Principal at Bodmin College. “We’re very proud to be flying the flag for Cornwall at the Awards and hope that this helps us to reach even more young people to feel confident and capable in accessing higher levels of education.”

Mrs Smith, added, “The William Clift Academy has impacted massively across all age groups through forging excellent links with HE and workplace providers, engaging alumni, the wider community and communicating opportunities effectively to students and parents; this has modelled positive aspirations, resulting in increased student engagement and consequently, social mobility.”