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Over the summer, local school pupils took part in placements in nine University departments across the Medical Sciences and Maths, Physics and Life Sciences Division. The placements were organised by in2scienceUK, an award-winning charity that inspires and supports secondary-school pupils from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds by giving them opportunities to work alongside scientists, and to receive advice and information they need to successfully apply to and progress to university and STEM careers.

From left to right - In2Science students Fatima Ali, Mercy Mwaniki, Yashica Gupta and Emma Quartermain

Oxford’s partnership with in2ScienceUK has been championed by MRC BNDU, Peter Magill, working closely with Founder and Director of in2science UK, Rebecca McKelvey. Together they secured enough funds to place 30 students this year.

The pupils enrol on a 2-week programme (non-residential) during which they are given:

  • Personalised mentoring from scientists
  • Opportunities to gain a wide variety of practical experiences as well as exposure to key concepts and challenges in research
  • Integrated workshops with in2scienceUK, where the pupils receive guidance on university applications, wider information about STEM careers, and training in transferable skills.

At a ceremony last week celebrating the end of another successful year of placements, students and researchers alike gathered to talk about their experiences.

Hamish Savania, a teacher at Blessed George Napier School, commented, "The evening was fantastic and really well presented. It was nice to see the students with their supervisors and get an understanding of what the students had done over their placement. The presentations by the students were a great insight into how they felt about their experience and encouraging to know that Chloe had a great time doing her placement with her research team. I’m looking forward to promoting this event to my new A-Level students and see more of my students applying for science based university degrees." 

Emma Quatermain, a student from The Warriner School Multi Academy Trust, said she “found the placement valuable” and that it gave her a better idea what to do at university and what skills she needed to be a researcher. Read Emma’s full blog about the placement here! 

Emma Quatermain’s blog

Emma in the labEmma in the labBefore starting this placement, I didn’t know what I wanted to study at university or if university was even an option for me. Working with PhD students and Professor Becker, I learnt the protocols of working in a fully functioning lab and more about biology and chemistry than I had during a whole year at 6th form! My research was based around the development of the cerebellum and IPSC technology, and I was able to interlink my research findings with my own knowledge from a-level, such as the genotype components of autism. I have a keen interest in biology and chemistry, and being able to combine both subjects during this placement helped me decide what I want to specialise in at university. It opened my eyes to what research is really about.

One of the reasons why I am so grateful for this opportunity is because, coming from a family where no one has studied science, it was almost impossible for me to find science-related placements, as Ihad no contacts. This placement was a huge achievement for me as I found it on my own, without the help of my school, and it’s broadened my horizons as to what is really available in terms of studying science at a higher level. I also think that, thanks to the placement and knowledge I’ve acquired, I feel as if I’m in the same position as, say, someone who came from a school or college in Eton. 

Without the In2scienceUK program, I wouldn’t have been sure of what to study, nor would I have felt as confident in what I wanted to study at degree level. I’m now in the middle of the UCAS process, and I’m feeling confident about applying to University of Oxford to study biochemistry!

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