University and Careers

At Ashbourne we work closely with every student to help them carve out an individual education programme that best reflects their passions and aptitude so they can build the confidence they need to succeed in their A levels and pursue the right career pathway.

We run a comprehensive careers programme that helps prepare our students for a variety of post-A level options including university entrance, degree apprenticeships, foundation courses, internships and direct employment. Nonetheless, the majority of our students go on to further education with more than 50% of our graduates gaining places at top UK Russell Group universities.

Ashbourne careers programme

Deputy Head of Sixth Form, Sean Pillai, oversees Ashbourne’s career development strategy, including individually tailored university programmes, with Personal Tutors and Careers and Events Officer Olivia Manning.

Ashbourne’s careers programme is designed in accordance with the eight GATSBY Benchmarks below and aims to offer each student the support and guidance necessary to develop their own university or career pathway.

1. A stable careers programme
2. Learning from career and labour market information
3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
5. Encounters with employers and employees
6. Experiences of workplaces
7. Encounters with further and higher education
8. Personal guidance

Ashbourne uses the careers evaluation tool Compass to help assess and improve our careers programme so that we meet the benchmarks. Our team also analyses student destination data and feedback from students, parents and employer partners annually.

A level students

Every A level student has a dedicated Personal Tutor who offers university and careers advice and guidance to support them throughout their time at the college.

Year 12 students meet with their Personal Tutor weekly in groups. During these sessions they explore the labour market, career options, further education pathways and develop a wide range of skills to help them navigate their future successfully. Sessions include:

  • Job market analysis, e.g. sector-by-sector trends, earning capacity, vacancies, forecasting, potential obstacles
  • Exploring career pathways, e.g. university, trainee and degree apprenticeships, entry-level jobs, gaps years
  • University and course research
  • CV writing workshops
  • Interview technique workshops
  • Mock interviews
  • Work experience placements
  • Volunteering opportunities

By the end of Year 12 all students will have written a draft Personal Statement, completed the administrative elements of their UCAS application, e.g. personal details and previous results, and developed a programme of super-curricular activities they will undertake over the summer to enhance their university application.

In Year 13, each student meets regularly with a UCAS tutor who specialises in their chosen subject area to help them complete and submit their final university application. These students also have opportunities to meet with the careers officer for support and guidance and can arrange to do practice interviews with Sean Pillai.

GCSE students

Ashbourne GCSE students typically go on to study A levels at the college. During Year 11, students take part in weekly PSHEE sessions that incorporate careers advice and skills development:

  • Job market analysis
  • Exploring career pathways, e.g. A levels, T-levels, trainee apprenticeships, trainee jobs
  • A level subject choices at Ashbourne
  • Presentation skills
  • CV writing workshops
  • Interview technique workshops
  • Work experience opportunities

Ashbourne events and initiatives

Ashbourne organises and runs career-focused events and initiatives throughout the academic year to support our students’ individual career development.

University entrance programmes

Lilian is currently studying Medicine at King’s College London after graduating from Ashbourne’s Medical School Programme. She achieved Biology A, Chemistry A and Mathematics A*.

“What attracted me to Ashbourne was the small class sizes and how personal everything felt between you and your teacher. The Medical School Programme gave me the skills and tools I needed to go into the interview and to write a good personal statement.”

We run specialised university entrance programmes for students intending to apply to competitive universities and degree courses:

University and careers event

Every year Ashbourne organises a one or two-day event where our students get the opportunity to take part in university and careers-focused workshops and meet with a range of academics and professionals. Top ranking university admissions tutors, including from Imperial College, King’s College, LSE, UCL, UAL, Bristol and Cambridge, are invited to the college to give talks. Ashbourne also invites guest speakers from a selection of different industries, local and London businesses and Ashbourne alumni to offer our students an insight into their professional field and opportunities for work placements, internships and apprenticeship programmes.

We also organise an annual university and careers event for Y12 parents so they can support their students in the decisions they make.


Ashbourne embraces local authority initiatives and business partnerships to create career-based opportunities for our students whilst they are studying at Ashbourne. This has included, for example, Ashbourne art students loaning their artwork to local businesses. During Year 12 students will explore and research career initiatives and opportunities that suit their individual goals with their Personal Tutors.

Harry was offered a Finance Degree Apprenticeship with J.P. Morgan after graduating from Ashbourne.

“Going into Ashbourne I didn’t think I was capable of getting the grades to attend a good university or end up doing a degree apprenticeship at a firm such as J.P. Morgan.  Ashbourne quickly proved to me I was more than capable of achieving whatever I put my mind to.  I was pleasantly shocked to see how much effort the college put in to get me to the finish line. I am doubtful you could receive this anywhere else other than at Ashbourne; the attention to detail regarding the students they have is incredible.”

Work experience and volunteering

Students will also look into work experience and volunteering opportunities during their Year 12 Personal Tutor sessions that directly relate to their chosen university course or professional pathway. Previous students have undertaken placements at companies such as Barclays, Steelo, LovePR and KCW today. Hands-on experience introduces students to the world of work and provides a window into the industry they hope to join. It also provides valuable material for students to use in their university applications. We will be exploring online work experience and volunteering opportunities with students for the upcoming year.

A level taster days

Year 11 students are offered the chance to try out A level subjects before choosing which combination to study at Ashbourne. The college organises three open evenings with talks to introduce students to new subjects and to meet teachers. Faculty Head of Social Sciences, Dennis Fulcher, introduces students to A level Film at Ashbourne in the webinar below.

Curricular and super curricular

Ashbourne teachers integrate activities and material in their lessons that help broaden students’ understanding of how subject knowledge and skills can apply to the real world and particular professions. For many key subjects we run ‘subject clinics’ where students can review topics, discuss new ideas and expand their subject and field knowledge further. Our mentoring scheme provides Year 13 students with the fantastic opportunity to consolidate what they have learned by teaching to Year 11 and Year 12 students.

Our students are invited to take part in a variety of internal, local and national competitions – e.g. the Ashbourne English Literature competition, the UKMT Maths Challenge, the British Mathematics Olympiad, the British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad, WJEC Moving Image Awards and the ISA national Drama Award – that stimulate deeper understanding of the subjects but also provide outstanding technical and work experience, particularly in Art, Film and Drama. We also organise an Ashbourne Creative Arts Events, where students have the chance to perform or exhibit their work, as well as music events at the Warehouse Theatre where students get to hear their own compositions performed by professional musicians.

Many of the wide range of clubs we offer, such as Critical Theory, Astro-particle Physics and Computing, as well as the Extended Project Qualification, provide our students with the opportunity to explore new topics and ideas outside their normal programme of study.

Ashbourne has created a supercurricular library that students may dip into so they can expand their knowledge beyond the A level subject syllabus. The library contains carefully selected resources that include books, documentaries and talks as well as work experience opportunities, related free online courses (MOOCS), EPQ topics and more.

Extra curricular

Ashbourne offers a lively extra curricular programme of activities and clubs that allow students to take their academic and personal interests beyond the main curriculum, including European trips, London galleries and shows, go karting, ice skating and clubs ranging from Bollywood dancing and Film to the Ashbourne Allstars football team.

The Ashbourne Revue is probably the most popular event of the year and offers all students and staff the opportunity to showcase their talents across many different areas, especially the performing arts.

Find out more about Ashbourne’s Activities, Events, Clubs and Trips.

Why Choose Ashbourne College?
Choosing to study at Ashbourne was one of my best decisions because I was so well cared for both academically and personally. This was especially true in preparing for my interview at Cambridge, for which I received a lot of help from my Personal Tutor
ThongMedicine at St George's Hospital Medical School (University of London)
Gained responsibility and independence and has a mature approach to their studies
I see Ashbourne as a place which I feel comfortable to express myself and it creates an environment that encourages me to develop as a leader. I am constantly looking for ways to improve. I am determined to continue to develop myself and I know that this is made more attainable with Ashbourne’s fantastic support and encouragement. I am very lucky to find myself at Ashbourne. It is a truly remarkable place to work.
Dennis FulcherHead of Multi-Media and Social Science Faculty