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October 2023 NEWSLETTER


Another year for the HEON programme and we can’t wait to let everyone know what we have been up to in the first few weeks of the new academic year! 

This has been one of our busiest starts to date since pre-covid – it’s been amazing to connect with so many school leads and students throughout September and October. Thank you to all leads and teachers that have been in touch with us in the early stages of the academic year and have had us in to commence delivery of our new programmes for 23-24.  

Most notably we have started delivery of one of our flagship programmes for 23-24 – FOCUS. Some of you may have already been familiar with the programme as we have been piloting this in a number of ways over the last two academic years but this year, we have finally managed to launch the programme and rolled it out to all schools within the partnership.  

We’ve successfully managed to start the Y10 and Y11 programmes across a number of our schools – thank you to Cove School, Salesian School, Kings International School and Broadwater School for engaging in the programme throughout the month of September.  

We have also started delivery of the programme during October at – The Beacon School, Woking High School, Fernhill School and Alderwood Senior School.  

The programme is a sustained and progressive programme with 8 touch points for Y10 and 5 touch points for Y11 across the academic year. Both programmes will incorporate elements of attainment raising such as revision skills, subject specific revision and resilience along with areas of resilience development and aspiration raising workshops and activities.  

The deadline has now passed to enrol your students onto the programme but we are open to working with your schools on an ad hoc basis. Therefore, if you would like to enquire about elements of the programme we are open to discussion feel free to get in touch with your allocated partner officer or Nathan Simpson through the links below. 

We’ve also been extremely busy visiting a number of schools at post-16 options evenings/mornings and careers evenings and mornings. It’s been fantastic meeting parents and students and having valuable conversations about careers pathways and next steps.  


Each month we’ll be looking to give you an insight into what’s upcoming for the following month.  

This year HEON are taking a slightly different approach to delivery. We have a number of flagship programmes that have been offered out to our schools.

Alongside this we are still keen to offer bespoke opportunities to schools but these will run in line with the programme delivery of each of our flagship programmes. If you’re school hasn’t managed to engage in one of these programmes then feel free to get in touch and we will be able to offer you elements as one-off workshops.  

We look forward to working with your school soon!

Educational Journeys: Hear From the Student

Educational journeys: Veterinary Medicine

We asked current Veterinary Medicine students, Hannah (4th Year) and Kathryn (5th Year), from the University of Surrey to reflect on their journeys to university, including applying and preparing to study Vet Med.  

Veterinary Medicine is typically a 5 year degree course, currently only offered at 11 universities across the UK. With entry into these courses being highly competitive, Hannah and Kathryn speak about their experiences prior to university and what advice they would give both prospective vet students looking to apply and to schools supporting students with this application process.  

What did you study before university?  

Hannah: “I did biology, chemistry and maths A Levels. Maths was useful for vet med because we have a lot maths in the course and I feel much more comfortable with it, especially with using a calculator!” 

Kathryn: “I studied biology, chemistry and psychology. I liked how psychology helped me with essay writing and referencing.”  

Why did you want to study Veterinary Medicine?  

Hannah: “Because I want to be a vet, and that’s the only way you can do it!” 

Kathyn: “When I was a kid I had a dog called Minstrel. I did everything with him and he practically taught me how to walk! He had hip dysplasia, so when we went to the vets with him I got to see how they worked with him. I enjoyed seeing that interaction between animals, owners and vets, which was an inspiring factor for me wanting to become a vet! There was also a point where I wanted to be an archaeologist, but one day I said to my mum ‘I want to be a vet because its easier to say!’”  

What kind of support did you get from your school/college in preparation for applying to vet med?  

Kathryn: “In secondary, I did a week of work experience at a vet, which I was really lucky to get at that age! But anything with animals is good experience, like working in kennels, cattery or a farm. During college, they helped me with personal statement writing, and were helpful with the early deadline, as for veterinary you have an earlier deadline than most other courses.” 

Upon reflection, is there any further support you would have liked when applying for vet med? Is there anything you would recommend to a school/college to help support vet applicants? 

Kathryn: “When you apply for veterinary, they do a thing called mini multiple interviews where you have 5 minutes at a station and then you go to the next. They did mock interviews for the medicine students but not for vet applicants, so that would have been nice!”   

Hannah: “I think they need to be aware that you need to start getting work experience early, as a lot of people get to the end of sixth without the work experience they need to get in. In upper sixth (year 13), myself and a boy wanting to study medicine set up a group for the year below for those wanting to study vet med, nursing, medicine etc. We ran practice interviews and helped them with personal statements as these things tend to different compared to other courses”.  

For courses such as vet med, you have a limit of 4 vet schools that you can apply for on UCAS and recommended to use the 5th option to apply for a backup course. Did you use this option and if so, what did you pick? 

Hannah: “I chose Animal Science, because if I didn’t get into vet med I would’ve done that degree first to then go on to do vet med.”  

What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to apply for vet med? 

Hannah: “Be yourself throughout the whole application process, because it’s quite easy to try and work out what universities actually went to see, but if they’re not right for you, then you’re not right for them either.”  

Kathryn: “Definitely go to open days, because you can look online at all the different universities and think ‘wow that looks amazing!’ but you might get there and realise it’s not the place for you. Its really beneficial to go to open days to see where you fit, and what you like and don’t like.”  


Thriving Lives Webinar Series

The South Hub is led by the University of Portsmouth, with support from Arts University Bournemouth and the Southern Universities Network. 

The South hub aims to connect schools and supporters of service children; foster collaboration and good practice that enables service children to thrive, and innovate with activity and approaches to achieve these aims. 

In October 2023, the South Hub will launch a new webinar series aligned to the principles of the Thriving Lives Toolkit. 

The webinar series will showcase best practice case studies from schools and colleges and highlight regional providers that can work with schools to deliver on the Thriving Lives principles – helping to connect schools, partners and providers. 

Click here to find out more.

This is where it starts…

Undergraduate open days for universities in the South East. For some universities not all dates cover all courses/campuses.

Check each university’s website for more information. 

Click on the image for a PDF with further information. 

activate learning apprenticeships guide

Activate Apprenticeships offers award-winning training for learners including School Leavers. We work with some of the UK’s top employers and provide fantastic opportunities for students across a variety of sectors.   

We have apprenticeships in the following areas:  

• Business Administration  

• Construction  

• Cycles  

• Digital  

• Early Years  

• Education  

• Furniture  

• Hairdressing and Barbering  

• Health and Social Care  

• Hospitality and Professional Cookery   

Students in Year 11 can register their interest, regardless of whether they have yet found an employer to provide the apprenticeship, via this link. There is also a PDF version of our foldout flyer attached to this email for your reference.


Places can be booked for the October and November Open Events via the links below, and we have included the dates for the rest of the academic year for your reference.  

Merrist Wood College: Sat 18 Nov (09:30-12:30); Weds 28 Feb (16:30-19:30); Weds 1 May (16:30-19:30)  

Guildford College: Sat 11 Nov (09:30-12:30); Weds 7 Feb (16:30-19:30); Weds 24 April (16:30-19:30)    

Farnham College: Weds 15 Nov (16:30-19:30); Weds 21 Feb (16:30-19:30); Weds 8 May (16:30-19:30)  

Reading College: Sat 18 Nov (09:30-12:30); Weds 28 Feb (16:30-19:30); Weds 1 May (16:30-19:30)  

Bracknell & Wokingham College: Weds 22 Nov (16:30-19:30); Weds 6 March (16:30-19:30); Weds 8 May (16:30-19:30)

Click here for details on how to register your interest.


The University of Surrey is delighted to host their Year 11 GCSE Revision Masterclasses, an online series for learners across Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire and West Sussex.  

Click on this link for further information.