Next Step Foundation | Alumni Celebration Event

The charity changing the odds for students from disadvantaged backgrounds

For the second year running participants of Next Step Foundation’s University Preparation Programme have rivalled Eton’s Oxbridge acceptance rate.

If you are from a poor background, the chances of attending Oxford or Cambridge is 1 in 1500, compared to 1 in 20 if you attend a private school.[1]

The Next Step Foundation ( is on a mission to change those odds, and their scholars are rising to the challenge. The last four cohorts have a 32% Oxbridge acceptance rate which rivals Eton College with 33%.[2]

Since 2016 the foundation has supported high ability students from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain places at the UK’s most selective universities with astonishing rates of success.  Partnering with schools and multi-academy trusts from across the country, NSF provides a 10 month online university preparation programme to young people to help them fulfill their potential. Ed Vainker, OBE, the Executive Principal at Reach Academy Feltham says:

“The experience of being a bright student in a state comprehensive is that it’s sometimes easy to feel like you are further ahead than you really are. Next Step Foundation has added challenge for our students. They’ve added capacity. It’s been invaluable.”

The charity’s CEO, Charlie Foot says:

“We are incredibly proud of the achievements of our scholars, in particular over the last two years, marred by lockdowns, school closures and social distancing. These results show that academic aspiration and excellence do not have to be a function of your postcode or the family you grew up in. We look forward to doubling this impact as 120 students join our 2022 cohort.”

NSF scholars and alumni are coming together for the first time on 5 October 2021 to celebrate these achievements and to exchange ideas with special guest Jack Parsons, UK’s Chief Youth Officer and CEO of The Youth Group, who is hot off the tails of an interview with the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak. Jack underlines the tremendous difficulties that these young people have had to overcome:

“Young people have faced trials and tribulations beyond belief. It is this strength we share in uniting no matter what, that gives us the freedom to be ready for the future, whatever it may bring. This is why it’s brilliant to have a chance to speak with some of the superstars who have shown an aptitude in adapting to the uncertainties life brings. Some of us will have experiences that others may learn from. I am so keen to spread warmth and share my knowledge throughout this incredible opportunity!”

[1] TeachFirst, 31 March 2017, Impossible? A Social Mobility Report

[2] The Spectator, 11 March 2021, The Oxbridge files: which schools get the most offers?