Forward Thinking for 'gifted and talented' students

The University of Birmingham works with widening participation students aged 12 to 16 across a range of local schools. These students are considered by their schools to be ‘Gifted and Talented’ – those with the potential to develop significantly beyond what is expected for their age. Its ‘Forward Thinking’ programme has a particular focus on progression to selective institutions such as the University of Birmingham and other Russell Group universities, and giving participants an idea of what academic study and student life is like.


Learners take part in campus activities, receive one-to-one mentoring support from undergraduates in school, and are given bespoke information and advice. The students are encouraged to think about their future education and career path, to help motivate them to succeed at school, and to make informed decisions about progressing to university.

Birmingham’s evaluation shows the programme’s positive impact. In 2015, Forward Thinking students significantly outperformed their peers on GCSE attainment: 93.8% achieved five GCSEs including English and Maths compared to 54.3% of peers in all Birmingham Local Authority schools, 48.8% of other students in the participating schools and 85.7% of other “high attainers” in participating schools.

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