‘Groundbreaking’: The Hackney school offering would-be doctors the ‘same chance as private pupils’

Francesca Beaumont (left) and Sandra Karakas have signed up for the programme. Photograph: Mossbourne

A school in Hackney says a “groundbreaking” scheme is offering its sixth formers opportunities in medicine to rival those on offer in private education.

Mossbourne Community Academy’s medical bursary programme gives the school’s would-be doctors and dentists extra support in achieving their dreams – as long as they have obtained an average GCSE score of 7 or higher.

According to a spokesperson, the scheme, now in its second year following a pilot in 2017, “aims to give students the same opportunities as those available to pupils in private school”.

They added that it has been “carefully crafted to ensure students are nurtured in preparation for medical school”.

This year, 18 sixth formers have signed up.

Pupils receive training from top medical professionals at St Mary’s Hospital. Photograph: Mossbourne

One of the first to do so was 17-year-old Sandra Karakas, who was inspired to go into medicine following a stint in hospital as a result of a skiing injury two years ago.

She said: “When I had my accident I realised how important our doctors and nurses are and how much the NHS does for us.

“I was in and out of hospital a lot with my skiing injuries and the doctors that took care of me inspired me to want to become a doctor myself.

“The support I have received from Mossbourne has been second to none. I have had the chance to do a week of work experience at Homerton Hospital and also work in a makeshift hospital in a slum in India.”

Sandra, who is hoping to study medicine at Cambridge University, added: “Mossbourne has encouraged me to be more proactive and to do my best, my personal statement is as strong as it is because of the extra support I have received from the bursary.”

The bursary offers investment of up to £1,000 per student, including practical support such as access to hospital work experience and lectures from professionals to equip pupils with the skills needed to help their applications.

Francesca Beaumont, 17, is another student who has been impressed with the scheme.

She said: “I have friends who go to private school and even they don’t get the opportunities that we receive here.”

She added: “I’ve attended some amazing lectures from world-class doctors and had the opportunity to participate in medical scenarios and activities, in hospital theatre-style environments.

“This is usually offered only to medical students at university.”

Mossbourne chief executive Peter Hughes said: “We are dedicated to providing the best opportunities for our students, including those who express an interest in studying a medical-related degree.

“I am particularly proud of the support we give our students so that they are able to head off to study highly competitive healthcare subjects.”

He added: “The bursary is groundbreaking in the state sector and gives pupils access to incredible opportunities usually only available to those in private education.”

Real news stories don't come cheap.

The Hackney Citizen is the borough’s only independent newspaper, and is now in its tenth year.

Our hard-hitting journalism has uncovered fire safety failures in tower blocks, revealed plans to criminalise rough sleepers, exposed dodgy letting agents and reported on many other issues of public concern.

We’ve always been totally free in print and online, but advertising revenues are falling.

That’s why we’re asking for your help.

Hackney Citizen’s high quality journalism is produced by a small team on a shoestring budget, so we’re asking you to make a monthly contribution to fund our work, enabling the paper to survive and thrive.

Support the Hackney Citizen from as little as £2 per month.

Can you spare £4 a month or more? Get the paper delivered direct to your door each month! (UK only)