Access and Widening Participation


UCL Explore English

UCL Explore English is a free online summer school for Year 10 students to improve their GCSE English creative writing skills and learn more about university.


What is UCL Explore English?

UCL Explore English is an exciting new four-day online summer school for Y10 students taking place from Tuesday 27th July to Friday 30th July 2021.

The summer school has been created by the UCL Access and Widening Participation department to give students the opportunity to explore university whilst preparing for their GCSE English. The programme combines a core module around ‘Creative Writing under Pressure’, alongside learning more about study skills, making important decisions for Sixth Form/college and life as a university student.


How will the programme work?

UCL Explore English will take place on the online mentoring platform Brightside, with students completing around 3 hours of activities each day on the programme. There won’t be any live elements of the programme (apart the celebration event), so students can plan and complete their work at any time during each of the days. This makes the programme flexible to fit around students’ other commitments.

Students will work through the module across the four days at home but will be mentored by a current UCL student and supported by UCL staff. Students will have the opportunity to discuss and share their ideas with a small group of other Year 10 students from around the country.

There will be a live online celebration showcase at the end of the summer school to recognise the students hard work and achievements across the programme. Parents/carers will also be invited to join the online celebration event.


What will students gain from taking part?

UCL Explore English is a fantastic opportunity for you to improve your GCSE creative writing and learn more about the next steps in your education.

With creative writing forming such a large part of the GCSE English Language exam (worth 50% of the marks for AQA and 60% for Edexcel), feeling more confident in this area could have a significant impact on your grade! From taking part in the UCL Explore English programme, Year 10 students will: 

  • Develop essential skills for creative writing questions.  Including: planning answers, developing a central idea and writing an engaging opening paragraph.
  • Increase knowledge of university, and the steps to take in order to get there.
  • Develop key study skills for GCSE courses and exams.
  • Learn more about future pathways, including sixth form and college.
  • Improve confidence by working with other Year 10 students from across the country and a current UCL student.

Students on the programme will also receive a free online CGP GCSE English Revision Guide. Additionally, students will be sent a free book of their choice (from the UCL Explore list)!


Who can take part?

In order to be eligible for a place on UCL Explore English, you must be:

  • Currently in Year 10
  • Attending an UK state school
  • Currently achieving a Grade 5 in the majority of your subjects, including English Language

We often have more applications than there are places available on a programme, so we use shortlisting criteria to prioritise young people from the groups that are underrepresented at UCL.  You can find more information about this on our ‘Who we work with’ webpage

To measure the impact of our programmes, we look at the longer-term outcomes of all eligible applicants, such as their anonymised GCSE results and whether they choose to apply to UCL in future. This includes young people who were eligible for our programmes but were unsuccessful due to the limited number of places. Eligible applicants will be randomly assigned to the participant and non-participant groups. You can get further information about how the Access and Widening Participation Team uses data on our website.  If you would like to contact us with any questions or concerns about the data we hold or if you would like any further information please email us on wp-data@ucl.ac.uk

Please note, you will be asked to provide contact details of a teacher who we will contact to check you meet the entry requirements.