Cambridge Pre-U, which aims to prepare students better for the rigour of university study, is growing in popularity in state schools across the UK, according to the latest figures from University of Cambridge International Examinations.
Take-up of the qualification, which follows a two-year linear programme with examinations at the end, is nearing 50:50 in terms of the state versus private school split, with 64 state schools and 74 independent schools entering their pupils Cambridge Pre-U subjects.
Since its introduction in 2008, appetite for Cambridge Pre-U has grown across the board. 20% more schools entered candidates for Cambridge Pre-U in 2012. With the government’s pending shift to linear qualifications, further growth is expected.
Val Joyce, Head of English at Watford Grammar School for Girls said: “The first time I walked into the classroom I loved the buzz and the energy and I haven’t looked back. That was 32 years ago! Our school has been teaching Cambridge Pre-U for the past three years and the school, students and I have all been thrilled with the results – it’s really brought that buzz back. The course allows students to develop the breadth and depth of the subject, beyond what is needed for the exam criteria, therefore giving them the freedom to allow for personal investigation which broadens their knowledge and prepares them for university.”
Paul Teulon, Head of Admissions, Students and Education Directorate at Kings College, London said: “We welcome applications from students who have followed academically rigorous programmes of study which allow them to become independent learners and develop their intellectual curiosity. Programmes of this kind will not only allow students to access the most competitive of programmes but also ensure that students make a smooth transition on to undergraduate study. Cambridge Pre-U and other programmes of a similar nature are well suited to develop the types of skills required.”
Ann Puntis, Chief Executive, University of Cambridge International Examinations said: “When it first started, Cambridge Pre-U was seen by some as the preserve of the elite. These statistics prove this is simply not the case – it is growing in popularity for schools across the board. More teachers and students are experiencing the benefits of a different learning environment – where teaching to the test isn’t an option.
“The structure of Cambridge Pre-U provides teachers with more teaching time to nurture students’ passion for their subjects and enables students to develop attributes that universities want. With increased focus on the outcomes of a university degree and the employability of young people, we have an obligation as educators to ensure that those who chose higher education, are sufficiently prepared to get the most out of it.”
Early evidence from UCAS suggests that more Cambridge Pre-U students are successful in gaining university places. 80% of applicants with at least one Cambridge Pre-U subject who applied through UCAS in 2011 accepted a place at a UK University. This is higher than the overall UCAS figure (which includes all applicants who applied to full time undergraduate high education courses offered by universities in the UCAS scheme) for the same year which was 70%.