Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Objective: To develop a one week widening access summer school for 16 year old pupils from non-traditional backgrounds who are considering applying to medical school, and to identify its short term impact and key success factors. Design: Action research with partnership schools in deprived inner-city areas in five overlapping phases: schools liaison, recruitment of pupils and assessment of needs, programme design, programme delivery, and evaluation. The design phase incorporated findings from one-to-one interviews with every pupil, and workshops and focus groups for pupils, parents, teachers, medical student assistants, NHS staff, and other stakeholders. An in-depth process evaluation of the summer school was undertaken from the perspective of multiple stakeholders using questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and observation. Participants: 40 pupils aged 16 years from socioeconomically deprived and under-represented ethnic minority groups. Results: The summer school was popular with pupils, parents, teachers, and staff. It substantially raised pupils' confidence and motivation to apply to medical school. Critical success factors were identified as an atmosphere of "respect"; a focus on hands-on work in small groups; the input of medical students as role models; and vision and leadership from senior staff. A particularly popular and effective aspect of the course was a grand round held on the last day, in which pupils gave group presentations of real cases. Conclusion: An action research format allowed us to draw the different stakeholders into a collaborative endeavour characterised by enthusiasm, interpersonal support, and mutual respect The input from pupils to the programme design ensured high engagement and low drop-out rates. Hands-on activities in small groups and social drama of preparing and giving a grand round presentation were particularly important.

Original publication




Journal article


British Medical Journal

Publication Date





762 - 766