What is TOP?
WHAT IS THE ODYSSEUS PROJECT (TOP)?
The Odysseus Project is an innovative education programme in partnership with OxFizz, designed to help motivated students get into top universities. Through a Programme Coordinator based at King Solomon Academy the Project works with students to improve both their academic grades and their knowledge of the university landscape.
There are two main strands to the programme:
1. ONE-TO-ONE TUITION
Students who are successful in applying to The Odysseus Project are matched with volunteer tutors based in the City. They then meet with once a week for hour long tutorials at the tutor’s place of work. Communication between tutors and teacher is facilitated by the Programme Coordinator so that tutorials become a highly effective teaching aid focussed on improving students in areas where they most need support. Evidence has shown that students that receive over 20 hours of free tuition on The Odysseus Project make over two thirds more progress on their tutored subject compared to their peers.
Tutors come from over 140 companies including Slaughter and May, McKinsey & Company, the Telegraph, Barclays, Accenture and the Cabinet Office. In order to foster the pupil’s independence, tutorials take place at the tutor’s place of work. The experience of regularly visiting the offices of these prestigious companies can be truly inspiring for students and is an excellent way of developing vital soft skills linked to future success. We ensure that pupils never travel more than half an hour to reach their tutorial and if they are on Free School Meals we cover their travel expenses.
Being comfortable discussing ideas and concepts with other people in an academic environment is essential to success at university. In tutorials pupils have in-depth discussions with their tutor about the subject. They are encouraged to think for themselves and to justify their opinions. This is ideal preparation for both university-style teaching and admissions interviews.
2. UNIVERSITY SUPPORT
In addition to tutorials TOP students enjoy a tailored programme of support in navigating the university application process. This includes regular one-to-one meetings to discuss options, workshops and presentations on up-to-date information concerning university applications and finance. Students also receive help with their UCAS form and personal statement and advice on university and subject choice. TOP also run trips to universities, organise external speakers and careers evenings.
There are TOP societies for students interested in pursuing Medicine, Law or those considering Oxbridge. These societies provide specialist advice as well as a number of relevant trips and lectures to help familiarise students with these pathways.
Finally, we understand that pupils seek advice and guidance from a variety of sources, including friends, parents and teachers. Through training on staff training days, and parent information evenings, we are able to ensure that pupils get the best possible advice.
Denzil is in Year 11 at King Solomon Academy, and started The Odysseus Project in September 2013.
Denzil decided to have a tutor in English as this was the subject he was finding most challenging. He hoped that working with an English tutor would help improve his grades not only in English but in other essay-based subjects.
Denzil met Mike, a lawyer in a prestigious law firm in London, every week for three years racking up over 40 hours of tutorials. When the tutoring began they focused on the difficulties Denzil was having in English and managed to iron out some of the things he was finding tricky. Having made huge improvements in his essay writing over that time he was able to attain a place at the prestigious highly selective University of Warwick.
“My family and parents were very happy for my achievements. It also allowed me to actually have a chance of achieving my dream of going to a Russell Group university and one day become a lawyer.”
Rashma is in Year 12 at King Solomon Academy, and started The Odysseus Project in September 2014
Rashma is an incredibly motivated student, impressing her teachers and tutor with her hard work and dedication. Rashma joined the programme right at the start of Year 10 and developed a hugely productive relationship with her English tutor, Richard, a Senior Associate at McKinsey and Company. After nearly 40 hours of tutorials over this period Rashma achieved 9 A*s and 2 As at GCSE as well as an invaluable insight to working at the renowned consultancy firm.
She said: “Not only did I exceed my GCSE English target, I improved significantly in my ability to plan a cohesive essay. Strengthening my essay writing has given me a solid foundation in writing for A Levels art subjects. Richard’s expertise in his field of work come with great wisdom and invaluable knowledge. Having studied English Language and Literature at the University of Cambridge, Richard never fails to inspire me in learning simply for the passion of learning and mastering a subject.”
Rashma now has a tutor in History who is also from McKinsey. She cannot wait to get started this year honing her writing skills as well as learning about another senior professional’s route into the workplace. Rashma has high ambitions and can see the contribution her tutorials are making to helping her achieve her goals.
“Ultimately, I hope to influence positive change in society. Studying at a highly selective university leads me toward my goal. The Odysseus Project delivers tutors who are exceptional at the work they do, who inspire their tutees to change the world they live in and help transform dreams into realistic goals.”