College launches HE+ and Seren Academy for 2019

Updated 18/09/2019

Gower College Swansea has welcomed over 400 learners to the Gorseinon campus for the launch of the HE+ programme and Seren Academy for 2019/20.

Gower College Swansea, at the invitation of and in collaboration with, the University of Cambridge, is the ‘hub’ institution in the Swansea HE+ Consortium, working with the seven state sixth-form schools in the City and County of Swansea.

This year’s launch event saw students from the College and the schools attend a welcome presentation given by Fiona Beresford, the HE+ and Seren Coordinator for Swansea, and Dr Jonathan Padley, Fellow and Admissions Tutor at Churchill College, Cambridge.

The students then participated in an academic masterclass in one of 13 different subject areas, led by academics from Gower College Swansea, Swansea University, the University of South Wales, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Bristol University.

 “HE+, which is now in its eighth year at Gower College Swansea, aims to develop students’ super-curricular knowledge and inspire them to aim as high as possible when making their university choices,” says Fiona. “Students on the HE+ programme attend monthly extension classes on post-syllabus academic content and have the chance to visit the University of Cambridge and its constituent colleges.

“Swansea’s Seren Academy also provides students with opportunities to develop their academic skills and supports students in their applications to leading UK and international universities. We are delighted to be working in partnership with local universities to develop this programme of academic support.”

After an incredible set of exam results this year, over 1,000 Gower College Swansea students have now progressed to university. Many of these students have headed to the UK’s top universities, including prestigious Russell Group institutions. In 2019, at least three students progressed to Oxford and eight were accepted to Cambridge.



Established in 2010, the University of Cambridge’s HE+ programme encourages and prepares academically high-achieving state school students to make competitive applications to top universities. The programme sees the University and its Colleges working with groups of state schools and colleges in fifteen regions to engage their best students in a sustained year-long programme. This includes academic extension classes, subject masterclasses, information and guidance sessions, and visits to the University.

Swansea’s Seren Academy is one of eleven hubs across Wales created to support Wales’ brightest Year 12 and 13 students to fulfil their academic potential. The hubs are partnerships between secondary schools and colleges and supported by local government, Welsh Government and leading universities.

Dr Jonathan Padley has strong links to South Wales. In the 1990s, he studied at Bishop Gore School in Swansea. Earlier in his career, he lectured at Gorseinon College and he’s also worked at Coleg Sir Gâr. In addition to his role at Cambridge, Dr Padley is an Honorary Research Associate at Swansea University and from 2013-15, he was seconded part-time to the Department for Education and Skills at the Welsh Government, working on the Oxbridge Ambassador for Wales project and the subsequent implementation of its key policy recommendation, the Seren Network. In his capacity as Admissions Tutor at Churchill College, Cambridge, Dr Padley regularly visits schools in South Wales and welcomes students to Cambridge.