Record Numbers of Varndean College Students win places at Oxford and Cambridge
This year a record number of Varndean College students have won places at Oxford and Cambridge universities: fourteen in all. Almost half of those who applied were successful.
They come from a range of educational backgrounds, including home-education and international schools abroad.
Among those celebrating are six of Varndean’s International Baccalaureate students. In May 2011 Varndean College achieved the best IB exam results of any IB college in the UK.
One successful IB-er is Tasha Dhanraj, with a place to read Theology at Oxford. She is passionate about stand-up comedy, after discovering it at 14 and working in stand up while studying at Varndean. She is attracted by Oxford’s ‘rich tradition of comedy’ as well as by its interesting Theology degree course. ‘Theology is something that I find is really relevant in today’s society,’ she said. ‘Religion has a huge effect on people’s lives’. Tasha is currently on a gap year working for the BBC. She also writes a column for Brighton-based magazine Latest 7, which she describes as ‘a blog that she gets paid for’. Her personal advice to prospective Oxbridge applicants? ‘Don’t prepare for your interview. The professors can smell a mile off if you have practised your answers and I found it made for an easier, more relaxed interview to talk off the cuff.’
Another IB-er is Callum Huseyin, accepted at Cambridge to study Music. ‘I want to be a conductor,’ he said. ‘I need a music degree that is academically focused and exposes me to the largest possible repertoire.’
Gabriel Davies has won a place to read History at Cambridge. Home-schooled till the age of 16, Gabriel came to Varndean with only two GCSEs. He says that moving from a home-school environment to college was ‘stressful at first’ but then he soon felt welcomed. Now in his third year at Varndean, Gabriel spent his first year taking additional GCSE’s in double Maths and Science whilst also studying for his History AS Level. He went on to take A Levels in History, Chemistry, Art and Politics as well as doing an Extended Project. Asked about Cambridge, he said ‘I wanted to test myself, to see if I could do it and I enjoy the tutorial approach that comes with the course’.
Other Varndean College applicants who have been offered places are: Ciara Berry (English at Cambridge, ex-Dorothy Stringer), Peter Bowles (Law at Oxford, ex-Claverham Community College), Alfie Cheesman (History at Cambridge, ex-Lewes Priory), Jessica Cross (Natural Sciences at Cambridge, ex-Brighton and Hove High), Matthew Doughty (Philosophy at Cambridge, ex-Downlands), Isabel Fuell (Natural Sciences at Cambridge, ex-Varndean School), Imogen Franklin (English at Cambridge, ex-Ringmer), Dan Gill (History at Cambridge, ex-Dorothy Stringer), Rowan Howell (Maths at Oxford, ex-Lewes Priory), Ellie Miller (History at Cambridge, ex-International School, Oslo) and Jacob Swindells (Music at Oxford, ex-Cardinal Newman).
Sean McEvoy and Alison Frost, Oxbridge coordinators at Varndean offer ‘many congratulations to all our students who have won places at Oxford and Cambridge. They all worked really hard, but their success is a great testimony to the excellent teaching of our colleagues and to the high expectation that we have of all of our students here at Varndean College.’