Suffolk youngster attends Commons launch of new scheme which steered him towards university

Mildenhall College Academy assistant principal Katie Sanders-Pope with student Tom Canham Picture:

Mildenhall College Academy assistant principal Katie Sanders-Pope with student Tom Canham Picture: MILDENHALL COLLEGE ACADEMY - Credit: Archant

A motorsport student is moving into the educational fast-lane after getting help to navigate the higher learning system.

Mildenhall College Academy student Tom Canham, 17 - who initially thought university might not be for him - was invited to join MPs and education officials at the House of Commons for the January 29 launch of a new nationwide project aimed at encouraging more young people into higher education.

The national £60m a year programme will deliver outreach programmes to young people in years 9 to 13 via the Office for Students.

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Tom was accepted on to a motorsport degree course at Coventry University after attending outreach activities organised by the Take Your Place programme, which provides support to young people from underrepresented backgrounds across East Anglia.

"I first heard about Take Your Place while applying for sixth form and while I didn't know it then, they would come to help me a great deal to understand options available to me in the future as well as personally helping with the application," he says.

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Tom was encouraged by Daisy Robinson, county co-ordinator for the University of Suffolk, to attend a Higher Education Convention funded by the Network for East Anglia Collaborative Outreach (neaco) - the team behind Take Your Place - to discuss university options.

"Whilst the event didn't have the course I was looking for, it opened by eyes to university life in general. Daisy also continued to support me through drop in sessions around my university application," he says.

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Katie Sanders-Pope, assistant principal of Mildenhall College Academy, has been involved with Take Your Place since 2017, and says it's rewarding to see students like Tom benefit so much from the scheme.

Tom believes Take Your Place helped him make an informed choice about higher education.

"At first I wasn't sure if university was for me or whether an apprenticeship would benefit me more," he admits.

"Having the presentations from Daisy at neaco and one-on-one drop in sessions has really helped me to understand university degrees overall and how to apply.

"I now believe that university is the right path for me and am looking forward to my motorsport degree at Coventry University later this year."

He advised other prospective students not to be put off by the thought of moving away from home, the fees or the scary application process, as there is support available.

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