A Hackney college has created a "red room" imitating an Oxbridge don's room in order to make students feel more comfortable at prestigious universities.
Brooke House Sixth Form College, known as BSix, created the space so students could "enjoy learning for the sake of it rather than studying for an exam".
"It is very much a room that helps to mark the difference in the nature of the work which takes place in it and it familiarises them with what they can expect at Oxford or Cambridge," Ian Power, the college's Raising Aspirations coordinator, said.
The further education institution, which established the Raising Aspirations programme two years ago, has seen a 300% rise in Russell Group admissions in the past year. Since starting the award-winning scheme the college has had one student go on to study at Oxbridge every year.
At the moment, the room is used by students who volunteer to commit to a programme of academic work. Pupils put themselves forward for a series of tutorials , usually with the intention of applying to a Russell Group university.
But, as Power explains, "they do not have to be Oxbridge or Russell group at all".
"Students can also be referred by their teachers. The minimum requirement is they are committed and passionate about expanding their reading in a particular area."
According to the programme coordinator, the students' reaction has been "extremely positive".
"They enjoy having somewhere which is very different and quiet - away from the hustle and bustle of the busy college environment we have," Power adds.
"Tutorials in the Red Room allow students to explore topics they can develop a passion for and ultimately study at university."
BSix now also have Dr Peter Claus, a senior research fellow at Oxford University, visiting several days a week to boost academic achievement and help prepare students for successful entries to the UK's top universities.
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