The charity helping northern state students reach our best universities

Covid-19 and Linacre - 31 March update

March 2020

By Paul Coupar-Hennessy, Executive Director, March 31, 2020

Good afternoon everyone. I do hope this finds you all well.

Here is the third of our updates on how Covid-19 is affecting our programmes.

  • The Selection and launch day for Rotherham students - scheduled for Friday April 24 in Rotherham - has been cancelled. We will run selection for the Reach Higher programme online - more details inside the next week. Please apply here The deadline is 4 May.

  • The Westminster Big Ideas summer school for Year 12 students in July has been cancelled / postponed. Westminster have cancelled all their outside visits over the summer, so we had no choice. We will be looking to deliver as much as possible of this programme online, and are working on some interesting plans. There is a very small chance that this could run at Westminster in October half-term 2020, but this is unlikely. I will have more news on the replacement programme inside three weeks.

  • We will be putting in place support for Year 13s (Linacre students in 2019). More details inside three weeks.

  • We have begun planning an exciting alternative programme to run if both Reach Higher summer schools both end up being cancelled. This would be online but would as far as possible recreate the community that is such a special part of the programme.

  • My office at home is now also a sick bay for young Paddy …

He sends his love to you, as do we all.

Do please contact me with any queries whatsoever. We’re here to help.



March 24, 2020 Update

Good evening everyone.

I very much hope you and yours are well. I’m very much thinking of everyone in the Linacre community.

As promised, here is the second of our Tuesday updates regarding our 2020 programmes.

We’ve had a busy week.

  • The Selection and launch day for Rotherham students - scheduled for Friday April 24 in Rotherham - has been cancelled. We will run selection for the Reach Higher programme online. I hope to have more details of how this will work this by 7 April. We may also run a launch event online.
  • We have begun to develop an alternative programme to run if the Reach Higher summer schools both end up being cancelled. This would be online but would as far as possible recreate the community that is such a special part of the programme. If we think it is going to be necessary, I will let you know immediately. I hope to have a decision on this by the end of April - well ahead of the deadlines outlined last week.
  • We would welcome thoughts from our partner schools on what they feel this alternative programme might address. We are already looking at providing ways of supporting Year 13s in what will be an unprecedented process of securing university places. We are also looking at ways we might support Year 12s as they look to get secure A Level knowledge and skills with schools closed.
  • We have been in touch with our hosts for the July 5-10 Big Ideas programme at Westminster. I hope to have news on whether this will run inside three weeks - well ahead of the 19 May deadline outlined last week.

More next week.

Do contact me with any queries - Our students and partner schools are our priority.

With very best wishes,



March 17, 2020 Update

Good morning everyone. I’m writing to update all our supporters on how the Coronavirus (Covid-19) may affect our programmes this year, and to let you know our thoughts.

I especially want to reach four groups of people:

  • Group 1: Students selected for the 2020 programme, from Wales High, Burnside Enterprise College, Hall Cross Academy, Ossett Academy, New College Doncaster and Penistone Grammar - as well as their and parents / guardians.
  • Group 2: Students thinking about applying from Rotherham via the Linacre and HEPPSY partnership and the application form available here: - as well as their parents / guardians.
  • Group 3: Students who took part in the 2019 programme and are now in Year 13.
  • Group 4: Decision-makers at our partner schools.

Our general thinking

I say every year to our students that there are many more important things in life than exam results, or which university you go to. It might not look like that at 17, and they are not insignificant, but the older you get the less important they seem. Your 80-year-old self will not consider them so very important. What people remember about someone is not what’s on an exam certificate, but whether they are a kind and good and loving person.

This message is important right now. It’s more important to pull together, do our civic duty, and, frankly, look after one another. The rest will sort itself in time. Perhaps quite a lot of time, as the latest scientific view is that the measures could last months. This background informs our response to Covid-19.

Firstly, we think it is important that people are reassured about what is happening as there is enough uncertainty already. Therefore:

  • We will post an update about the status of our events on the website (appearing on the home page) weekly - next one by Tuesday 24 March.
  • We will have made a final decision about whether events run by the following dates. All of these are final deadlines - we will try to make decisions earlier. There is a balance here between giving as much notice as possible and seeing how events unfold in order to make the right call.

    • Selection and launch day for Group 2 - scheduled for Friday April 24 in Rotherham. Decision by Tues 31 March. At this stage, this looks unlikely to take place. See below for more guidance.
    • Big Ideas summer school, scheduled for Sunday 5 - Friday 10 July in London. Decision by Tuesday 19 May.
    • Stepping Stones to World Class Universities summer school, scheduled for Monday 10 - Tuesday 18 August in Cambridge. Decision by Tuesday June 30.
    • Phone a Friend Tuition programme, scheduled to begin in early September. This looks likely to run as it does not involve any face-to-face contact. Decision by Tuesday July 14.

Specific messages to individual groups

Group 1: You will be concerned about whether the programme is going to run. We are discussing this as I write and I will keep you posted weekly. If the summer schools don’t run, we will look to provide alternative support for you.

Group 2: I very much encourage you still to apply for the programme. If we have problems running the summer schools, we will do our very best to offer alternative support for you. I will keep you posted weekly.

Group 3: I imagine you are all uncertain right now, and some of you will be anxious. If there’s anything we can do to help, get in touch by emailing me. I re-iterate the message above: the situation with your exams and university entrance will sort itself out. Try to stay in the moment and not to allow ruminative thoughts to run away with you. I’m very much thinking of you all.

Group 4: As mentioned above, we are working out whether the summer schools can feasibly run. It’s too early to make the decision now, but we will consult you before coming to any conclusions and will act with the wellbeing of students as our only priority. If they do not run, we will do our very best to make alternative provision. Again, please do get in touch with any queries at all.

With warmest best wishes to you all. Go well.


Paul Coupar-Hennessy, Executive Director