Several Alumni of St Catharine's are involved with access and mentoring initiatives. Please see below for details.

The Promise Foundation

Birthed out of a mentoring relationship that radically transformed my life, Promise Foundation was launched in September 2013. Working in collaboration with our strategic partner, Queen’s Park Community School, the Foundation’s main aim has been to tackle educational disadvantage by providing mentoring, advice, and training to young people from underprivileged backgrounds. Central to everything we do is our commitment to social mobility and our belief that this should be a collective responsibility. On the front line are the Promise Foundation mentors who meet their mentees for an hour a week over a period of one academic year (September to July).

Between September 2013 and March 2016, the Foundation has had a direct and very positive impact on young people’s lives. As early as the first year of the project, mentees improved in more than one area of their subject choices; our programme has directly impacted over 100 local people since its launch in 2013. Through the scheme, young people were also offered work experience opportunities in Fashion, Midwifery, Law, Politics, and many other sectors. Some mentees were recruited to sports institutions, including the Premier League Football Clubs, Tottenham Hotspurs and Redbridge. Many of the mentors also went with mentees to visit colleges and universities in order to help them understand the various options and routes into Further and Higher Education available to them. This enabled mentees to get a better understanding of what subject area they might like to pursue in the future.

Due to the success of the Promise Foundation programme, there is presently a growing waiting list of pupils who have been referred by their Heads of Year. As a result, the charity has now begun an active campaign to increase funding in order to meet this expanding demand. We are working in partnership with St Catharine's College to get young people excited about the prospect of university. For more information, please contact us on the following email address:

For more information on Promise Foundation please see

Promise Knight (2007)

The Access Project

The Access Project works with high-potential students from disadvantaged backgrounds, providing in-school support and personalised tuition to help them gain access to top universities.

Fifteen percent of England’s children receive free school meals, yet only 2% of students at the top 25 universities received free school meals when they were at school. Even if a student has the same A-level grades as their more affluent peers, they are both less likely to apply to a top university, and less likely to be offered a place.

This matters because students from Russell Group universities are 14% more likely to secure a highly-skilled job after graduation. They are also overwhelmingly more likely to move into elite professions: 75% of senior judges, 59% of the Cabinet and 47% of newspaper columnists went to Oxbridge.

At the Access Project, we believe this situation is a significant injustice. We want to make access to the most selective universities fairer for the million children who come from low-income families in England today.

We tackle the two main challenges for disadvantaged students in securing a place at university:

  1. Understanding the pathway to university including making a great applications

Our programme of support is focused on university preparation and delivered by one of our staff who are based in the schools we work with.

  1. Getting the grades needed to go to a top university

Subject tuition is delivered by a business volunteer and focussed on academic support in a subject where the volunteer has expertise.

Our programme is founded on a unique and highly effective collaboration between our community of students, schools, volunteers and business partners. We match schools with a business within 30 minutes’ travel; the business focuses their volunteering efforts at their partner school.

As a result of this intensive and targeted support, students on our programme achieve higher grades and are more likely to go on to study at university.

Naomi Burley-Baker (Programme Manager and Senior Communications Coordinator; Alumnus Andrew Berwick (2002) is Director of the Access Project)

In the video below, St Catharine's Alumnus and Trustee of the Access Project, Neil Cosgrove (1993), talks about the programme as well as why he chose St Catharine's.



For more information, please visit For details about the Access Project at St Catharine's, please click here