Case Study Alumni Emily, Glenthorne School

Alumni Case Studies

Learners on the Aimhigher London sustained and progressive programme come from a low socio-economic background, (read more on Our Learners). These young people are selected by their school coordinators to take part, on the basis that they are less represented in universities across the country. Our funding through UniConnect and from our members, delivers opportunities to address inequalities  of access to higher education. These stories illustrate the impact of the sustained and progressive interventions.


A student at Glenthorne School in Sutton, Emily grew up as the eldest child in a large family where money was tight, and she felt the responsibility to be not just the older sister, but also a role model for her siblings and worked hard at school around her home life.

“I was very conscious that I would be the first to do many things, university included.”

Emily was selected for the Aimhigher programme in 2018/19 when she was in year 9, she remembers a trip to St Mary’s University with a few workshops and interesting tasks. She also has fond memories of the trip to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studios too at the end of year 11.

“When Aimhigher London first talked about university it was a bit of a blur, it was almost too far away to think about and I was very focused on my next goal – which was to get good GCSE results. I like to set myself milestones and goals and get my head down to complete them.”

The interventions throughout year 10 started to peak her interest and by year 11, when she was considering her next steps, she set herself a new goal, to look into what she really wanted to do post 16. She sat down with her mum and worked out what was important to her, what really interested her and whether that future included university. Her final list was science, children, and teaching, with a work placement at the end of year 11 in a primary school, her choice was made – teaching primary aged children, this was when the research really began.

“I set myself the goal of looking into universities with the aim of teaching primary school and literally spent hours typing in key words, reading through course overviews, looking at the progression of development within the course over the three years and understanding what the university needed from me to get in. This was a lot of work, but it was helpful, if daunting”.

Choosing which university was the next challenge for Emily. Aimhigher London cultural capital programme introduced her to Liverpool, a residential opportunity to experience new people, a new city and everything university life had to offer. 

“This trip went on to further consolidate my passion to pursue teaching at university. I got to talk to so many different people, see what a university was like (including its accommodation), what a lecture hall looked like, how students took notes, where students ate and hung out, it was all becoming a lot clearer”.

Emily stayed on at Glenthorne School in the 6th form because of the extra support through the Aimhigher London programme and was offered a student ambassador from Roehampton University as a mentor. The mentor supported Emily practically on her personal statement, tackling finance and managing the UCAS site, but also mentally being able to talk about her feelings on the process and to learn from the experiences he had gone through too. Emily’s mother also engaged as much as possible taking advantage of the Aimhigher London parent engagement programme

“Being the first in family to go to university, I did feel the pressure of being able to get it right and put a lot of work into my research and talking to my family as much as possible. It would be great if parents could also be shown how the UCAS system works and be given as much information as we are so we could do this together more”.

Emily’s A level day in 2021 was very emotional for everyone in her family, not only was it the year the UCAS system was overwhelmed and crashed for a short period of time, but having been teacher assessed, it was incredibly stressful not knowing whether the grades would be enough to get onto the course. But, good news, Liverpool Hope University, her first choice, had indeed offered her a place on her chosen course and the rest as they say is history!

Emily is not only very happy at Liverpool Hope and takes advantage of everything the university experience has to offer, but she has also tutored her younger brother through the same process  and he is now studying at Derby University. She takes her passion for learning and personal growth into her teaching career.

“I put in the effort and the time to explore more with the support of Aimhigher London and my school, to talk to others and listen to student ambassadors in particular to be able to relate my future to their experiences too, I found my passion for teaching and the passion to continue learning – something I bring with me when I talk to primary school children too”

Our thanks go to Emily for her time to talk to us and we wish her all the best in her course and every success in her future career teaching. 

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