Bookings open for 2019 Seren Conference: 3 – 5 December 2019, Cefn Lea Park

Bookings are now officially open for the national Seren Conference which will be held on 3, 4 and 5 December at Cefn Lea Park, Newtown. The conference is a must-attend event for Year 12 Seren students and teaching professionals, and this year’s event promises to be one of the most exciting Seren conferences yet.

Held over three days, the conference will welcome around 1,500 students and teaching professionals. It promises to be an eye-opening and inspirational experience, seeing a host of brilliant speakers and academics from Wales, the UK and overseas attending to share their expertise. Each day will hold a jam-packed timetable of sessions designed to inspire, motivate and encourage students to make the most of Year 12 in preparation for applying to university.

Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams at the 2018 Seren Conference.JPG

What will students gain from the conference?

Hama Sharif from Llanishen High School is a Year 13 Seren student studying Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Attending the conference last year inspired him to apply to Oxford to study Medicine.

“When I arrived at Cefn Lea for the annual Seren conference I realised I was part of something really exciting. The whole experience of the day really opened my eyes and made me realise there was a whole world of opportunity out there for me.

“The day was packed full of workshops around the whole range of subjects, as well as masterclasses, all designed to guide you through the university application process. This year’s conference is all about promoting learning beyond the classroom to give you the all-important edge over your competitors in university applications.

“For me, standout sessions will be ‘Communicating your Skillset’, ‘Adjusting to University Life’ and ‘Standing out from the Crowd’.

“It was interesting to hear that as a result of attending the 2018 conference 80% of students were more motivated to apply to a leading university and 84% were more knowledgeable of what it takes to successfully apply to a leading university. I can vouch for this – the conference is an all-round engaging experience that opens your mind to opportunities and tells you that you have what it takes to go to the best universities in the world.

“The conference is an intense day but so worth it. It’s unmissable really. There isn’t another opportunity that you’ll get to meet representatives from universities in the UK and in the US, hear from really inspirational people who are at the cutting-edge of their field and find out about what scholarships and bursaries are available to you at university, all under one roof.”

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What’s included for teaching professionals?

Almost all the sessions in the teaching professionals timetable are brand new this year, and range from supporting student mental health and wellbeing to supporting MAT learners with perfectionism, and how best to support learners in rural environments.

Sessions for professionals will feature real-time case studies, incorporating peer-to-peer learning where possible, so that teachers can benefit from tips and strategies around these topics.

For the first time this year we will host two dedicated finance sessions for both students and teaching professionals. Student Finance Wales will explain what support is available to help with tuition fees and living costs for Welsh students, and we will also welcome scholarship app developer Grant Fairy, who will run through how to access scholarships and bursaries from universities across the UK.

The Seren Conference is free to attend and is a fantastic opportunity for teachers to boost their career by picking up CPD points.

Last year, 98% of professionals rated the conference as good or excellent, and 88% reported that they had benefitted by being able to support their most able students and that attending the event had added value to their local hub programme.

Dr John Roe, director of Sixth Form at Radyr Comprehensive School in Cardiff, has been to the conference for the past two years.

“There is such a fantastic range of opportunities available for both students and teachers. Being able to attend masterclasses with fellow students from around Wales who share a particular love and enjoyment of a subject area is one of the main reasons why this conference is so popular and successful.

“Teachers attending the conference can choose from a menu of fantastic professional development opportunities. These include sessions aimed at developing strategies to support MAT learners, sessions designed to help teachers support student wellbeing, advice on how best to support students with admission tests, personal statement and reference workshops, and opportunities to network with colleagues from across the educational sector in Wales and the UK.

“The conference is a unique opportunity for teachers to develop their knowledge and skills completely free of charge, and to leave with a range of strategies that they can take back to their schools and colleges which will have a direct impact on the quality of educational provision, support and guidance that they are able to provide for their students.”

BBC Wales Sports journalist and presenter, Catrin Heledd, will host this year’s event for the first time. Since graduating from Aberystwyth University and Cardiff School of Journalism, Catrin now presents on Scrum V and Clwb Rygbi.

How do I book?

We’ll be posting more detailed information about sessions and how to make the most of the conference over the coming weeks. Places for the conference are allocated on a first come, first served basis, so book early to avoid disappointment.

The full student timetable can be viewed here

The full professional timetable can be viewed here

To book conference places visit click here and follow the instructions. Please note; teaching staff can book up to 15 students on one form. All groups must be chaperoned by a member of staff or a responsible adult. Professionals are required to book onto the sessions they wish to attend.

Hear from Seren students about their thoughts on starting university!

Starting university can feel overwhelming and be a scary experience. but hearing how others are preparing can help you feel at ease and excited for the journey.

We’ve asked some of our Seren students who are starting university this year to share with us their thoughts on becoming first year undergraduates.

Amy Martin is going to the University of Warwick to study Engineering.

Charlotte Belton is studying Mathematics at Durham University.

Joe Lagorio Price is going to Selwyn College to study Medicine.

Why did you choose to study your subject?

Amy – I’ve always loved engineering, ever since I competed in the F1 in Schools competition. I am currently involved with Williams F1 as a member of their academy, so engineering felt like a natural route to progress into.

Charlotte – I chose to study maths because I’ve always loved the subject. The understanding it allows me to gain of everything is what draws me to it. I love the abstract concepts and the way it explains basic things we normally take for granted.

Joe – I’ve wanted to do medicine since I was a young boy so it was a natural progression to follow this route at university.

Why did you choose this university?

Amy – I choose Warwick because of the friendly atmosphere. I felt really happy when I went to their open day, even though it was torrential rain!

Charlotte – I chose Durham for its reputation for quality education as well as its rich history.

Joe – I chose Cambridge because I really liked it as a university, and it has a good reputation.

How are you feeling in the lead up to starting university?

Amy – I’m really excited to gain some independence when I move away from home, I’m excited to meet new people and learn new skills!

Charlotte – Whilst I am feeling nervous for university, I’m excited. It is such a big change but one I look forward to.

Joe – I am feeling excited in the lead up to university and I can’t wait to start first year with freshers’ week and meet new people.

Do you have anything planned for the first few weeks at university?

Amy – I’m hoping to join some sports teams within my first few weeks. I’m looking at joining the swim team and cheerleading!

Charlotte – I don’t really have anything planned yet but I do know that my university is organising some events, I just have to wait a couple weeks to find out.

Joe – I plan to join a few societies and am looking forward to having a good time in freshers’ week.

How are you finding packing and saying goodbye to your friends and family at home?

Amy – It’s really scary packing up all your things and actually coming to terms with not being physically close to your family anymore, but I’m really excited to see what I can get up to in the next four years.

Charlotte – I’m finding packing fine, but I know saying goodbye will be sad while also happy. My friends and family know I’m doing something I enjoy and they’re happy for me, but it will be odd moving away.

Joe – It’s hard to leave my family and home, but it won’t be long until I see them in December so I’m not too worried about saying goodbye.

What are your expectations for your first year?

Amy – I’m hoping my first year will bring about lifelong friendships and memories (especially freshers’ week). I’m also looking forward to finally studying the area I’m interested in; I can focus all of my time on engineering now.

Charlotte – I’m trying to not have many expectations for university life so I can just relax and enjoy whatever happens.

Joe – I think first year is going to be tough, but I’ll try my best to succeed.

How has Seren helped you prepare for university?

Amy – Seren has given me an incredible boost in my confidence; the Oxford Jesus College Summer School has especially eased my thoughts on going to university. I made so many friends and had such a good time in that one week, how could I not enjoy uni life!

Charlotte – My Seren hub coordinator has done so much for me. She even helped me pick my university, especially when I was struggling to pick my firm and insurance choices.

Joe – Seren has helped me prepare for university through the tips and advice from various talks I have been to put on by Seren.

To all our Seren students starting university this year: make sure you get involved and make the most out of all the opportunities and support available for you.

Good luck!


The Seren Network, in conjunction with Oxford University, is running a series of three regional events to support all Year 13 Seren students, who are applying to leading Universities that have admissions tests as part of their entry criteria this year. Following the October deadline for University applications, selected students will be invited by universities to sit the formal admission tests relevant to their specific courses. To help prepare our Seren students for these formal admission tests, we have designed a series of admission test prep sessions at three locations. Admission tests are not offered for all courses.
You may attend any one of these three sessions, depending on which session/date is more convenient for you.

  1. 11th September at Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  2. 12th September at Bangor University, Bangor
  3. 13th September at Deeside Sixth form College

Students will be coached by a combination of current Oxford students or experienced tutors who have successfully completed or helped prepare students to sit admission tests. They will offer pupils an invaluable insight into the Oxford application process and share general knowledge and tips about the aptitude tests.
It really is an essential day for any Seren student aiming to apply for a place at a leading university this year to provide the practical guidance and advice they need to score highly in these aptitude assessments. These workshops have been designed to give pupils a well-rounded view of the style of tests and interview process unique to these elite universities and will help boost their confidence in the application process.
The day will consist of advice from university professionals, an overview of the tests and practical sessions.
9:30am Registration and welcome
10am Plenary session on Admission Tests
10:30am – 12:30pm Selected Admission Test Session
12:30 to 1pm Lunch
1pm to 3pm Selected Admission Test Session
3pm End

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


  1. TSA – Thinking Skill
  2. HAT – History
  3. ELAT – English literature
  4. LNAT – Law
  5. BMAT – Biomedical
  6. PAT – Physics
  7. MAT – Maths
  8. MLAT – Modern languages

Students can sign up via the following link:
Important Additional Information

  • These sessions have been designed in addition to the outreach sessions being delivered by colleagues at Cambridge university during September and October. Details about the Cambridge led sessions scheduled for South Wales can be found in the link below:

Details about the Cambridge led sessions for Mid and North Wales will be provided by your local Seren Hub Co-ordinator but the dates for your diaries are:

  • 24 September 2019 Ceredigion
  • 1 October 2019 Conwy / Denbighshire
  • 2 October 2019 Anglesey / Gwynedd
  • 3 October 2019 Flintshire / Wrexham

All students looking to apply to a leading university where they would be expected to sit admission tests should attend both sessions as both Oxford and Cambridge will be delivering complementary advice, support and guidance.

Travel – Schools/colleges to make their own arrangements to support their students to attend the sessions

Pre-Session Prep – Students should be familiar with the format of their chosen test, and have looked at specimen papers, mark schemes and model answers in advance of the day through Students to bring writing materials and calculators.

For any queries on the content, please contact

An agenda and joining instructions will be shared with you closer to the event.

You will also find a copy of our privacy notice here.03.07.19 mh SEREN event Cardiff53

My experience of Harvard Summer School

This summer, 23 Seren students have had the opportunity to attend the Harvard Pre-College Program Summer School.


 We hear from Tyler Rawlings, a Seren student from the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire hub about his experience on this amazing trip…

Tell us about the trip

I went to the Harvard Pre-College Program between June 24th and July 5th to take the ‘Introduction to Astrophysics’ course.



What were your classes like?

My classes ran from Monday to Friday 8:30am to 11:30am, and I received about three hours of homework a day, with some homework assignments being much bigger tasks, such as making a presentation to give on the last day.

In my course, our classes were a general overview of what content would be covered in the full course that you could study as an undergraduate at Harvard.

I’ve been interested in becoming an astrophysicist for a few years now, but I’d never been sure of exactly what that would entail.

I decided that taking the astrophysics course would be the perfect way to experience what it would be like, and now that my two weeks are over, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

It was a massive step up from the level of difficulty in school, and classes were much more intense due to how densely packed with information they were.

However, this wasn’t a problem, as my professor was really understanding and was happy for us to make plenty of mistakes so we could learn from them to find the right answers.

My class also included an evening session where spent part of the night using one of the telescopes and domes on campus to observe some space objects such as nebulae, stars, planets, galaxies, and globular clusters.

I really enjoyed spending the night with my class and conducting some interesting practical work.

Through my class, I made plenty of friends through talking to people during lessons and breaks, and through group work.

Overall, I really enjoyed my classes, as the content was exactly what I hoped for and it was interesting to find how different the teaching process is in Harvard as opposed to my school.H4.jpg



What other classes did you take?

On top of the classes we were given, we were also able to choose some extra academic sessions and recreational activities to take part in.

I ended up choosing talks on public speaking, the future of the global economy, time management, and managing stress.

I really enjoyed the talks I signed up for, and I managed to learn a lot from them all.

As a result of the public speaking session, I felt myself grow in confidence a little.

The time management and managing stress talks were extremely helpful and gave me useful and insightful advice that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and the global economy talk was also very interesting.

What was life outside of classes like?

On the recreational side, I chose a board game night, a day trip to Rhode Island, and going to see the Boston Red Sox (a baseball team) play.

The game night was a fun, slow evening which I could spend with the other Seren Students and with the new friends I made.

In my spare time when I wasn’t in any classes, doing any homework or participating in extra activities, I spent all my time socialising and adventuring around the Harvard campus and Boston.

Doing this, I managed to make lots of new friends from many different countries and we made some great memories together.

Meeting people and making friends with them was easy, even for someone who doesn’t excel socially like myself.

At Harvard, you’re also put in a ‘proctor group’ to meet new people. In my group, we had meetings where we got to know each other over the fortnight, and through those meetings I became good friends with my roommates and the people in the rooms nearby.

On the whole, we were given plenty of time to have a social life around our work, so that we could enjoy our time exploring the country and getting involved in the culture.



What was your favourite memory?

My favourite memory of the program has to be the Fourth of July celebrations.

Due to Independence Day being a national holiday, we were given a day off to do what we wanted.

In the morning, a group of us went to Boston and watched the Independence Day parade, which was great fun and it really highlighted the difference in culture.

We also went to listen to the Boston Pops, an orchestra group, and watched the fireworks.

As the celebrations took place the day before we left, it felt like a fitting ending to our two-week journey.

I was outside at night on the Fourth of July, stood with the friends I’d made and spent lots of time with over the course of the fortnight, watching the best firework show I’d ever seen in my life.

It felt like a suitable finale to the program, and I felt so happy to be there.


Make sure to keep an eye on our social channels this month where we’ll share more highlights of Harvard from other Seren students throughout August…


Seren Celebration

Take a look at our roundup video of last week’s Seren Celebration event at Cardiff Bay.

We hosted Seren students from across our hubs all over Wales at a two-day event in Cardiff who had the chance to hear from broadcaster Guto Harri, entrepreneur expert Georgina Campbell Flatter, Oxbridge student ambassadors and Minister for Education, Kirsty William AM.

The event was a fantastic opportunity for us to announce Seren’s ongoing success with its international partners in the US, with 2019 seeing 53 Seren students take part in funded summer school events and nine Seren alumni heading to the US to study as undergraduates this autumn.



Spotlight on: International Politics and Global Development

Ffion, 19, is currently studying International Politics and Global Development at the University of Aberystwyth.

Originally from Newcastle Emlyn, where she studied A-levels in Spanish, History and the Welsh Baccalaureate at Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn, Ffion knew she wanted to study Politics as her degree subject and had her heart set on Aberystwyth.


Ffion said, “The course at Aberystwyth is internationally renowned as being one of the best for studying International Politics. The department is in the UK’s top ten for student satisfaction and is extremely well-established, currently celebrating its centenary. The course offers a wide choice of modules, from Women in Politics to Global Inequality. Unlike other courses I looked at they really delve into the issues that effect people and politics on a global scale, particularly in the global south. Most other courses focus on US, Europe or British politics but I have found it really interesting, and important, to understand more about how the less developed countries’ political systems work. I find it all fascinating.

“Another great thing about studying in Wales is that Aberystwyth University offers any fluent Welsh speakers, like me, the chance to do the whole course through the medium of Welsh. Personally, I chose to do my course in English but I think it’s great that the option is available as this appeals to so many students here who can continue to speak their first language. There are many students who have come to Wales from all over the world and that always makes for lively debate and the chance to get know other people from different backgrounds.

“The department at Aberystwyth is home to Interstate which is a politics journal that is entirely run by students, giving current undergraduates like me the chance to have their work published.

“I have learned that high profile politicians studied at Aberystwyth including Carwyn Jones AM who is a huge idol of mine. I admire him as a leader and closely followed his career. He was a key influence on my love of politics in Wales. Gareth Thomas and TV presenter Alex Jones studied here too.

“I also love Aberystwyth. It has so much to offer as a town – not only is it next to the sea, it’s surrounded by amazing countryside which offers so many outdoor activities and beautiful walks. I absolutely love being outdoors and exploring, so it’s the perfect place to be. The town also has a lovely community feel to it and there is lots going on, you just have to delve into the pulse of the town. As I’m interested in politics and issues, there is always a cause or campaign for me to get involved in!

“Before I decided on Aberystwyth, the teachers at my school did help me to explore other options but when I did, I realised that the course at Aberystwyth was the best option. I have done a lot of relevant work experience so I was pretty confident that I’d at least get considered. I’ve been a member of the Labour party since I was 15 and have been actively involved in campaigning since then. I’m really interested in current affairs and the issues that can have an impact on our everyday lives.

“Neither of my parents went to university but my older sister did, so my parents have always been really supportive when it came to me applying. They were even happier when I told them I’d found the perfect course and it was only an hour away from home.

“The advice and support that the Seren programme offers to help students like me is fantastic. From writing a personal statement to completing the UCAS form and mock interviews, it’s great that specialist guidance from leading universities is available for those who might need that extra boost in confidence. Applying to university can be daunting and for some, it might be hard to know where to start. I was pleased when I found the perfect course at Aberystwyth as I never really wanted to go anywhere too far from home.”


Spotlight on: Dentistry at Cardiff University

Lewis, 20, is on the pathway to achieving his dream of becoming a dentist after securing a place at Cardiff University to study Dentistry. Now in his second year, Lewis is enjoying the hands-on practical side of his course and is enjoying living as a student in the capital city.

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Lewis is originally from Neath where he studied A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths at Dwr Y Felin Comprehensive School. He was invited to join Seren at the beginning of year 12 and believed the coaching, advise and support he received from Seren, coupled with the Seren-led events held for students, were fundamental to him achieving his place on the Dentistry Course at Cardiff University.

Lewis said, “When I applied to study Dentistry at Cardiff University I knew there were going to be more than 1,000 applications for just 70 places, so it was hugely competitive. It’s the only dentist school in Wales and is one of the best in the UK with really modern, hi-tech facilities in the clinical skills laboratory which allows us to gain lots of practical, hands-on experience right from the first semester. From the second year onwards we get to treat real life patients.

“I knew that my personal statement would have to stand out if I was to be invited for an interview but wasn’t sure where to start. The application process and completing a UCAS form can be pretty daunting but the hub coordinators from Seren were brilliant helping me to break it down into manageable tasks.

“They sat down with me to have a chat about my passion, drive and ambitions and helped me understand what I needed to include in my form to ensure I really stood out. There is a real art to writing a personal statement and without the help I had I don’t think I would’ve been able to compile such a comprehensive statement. They helped make the whole process far less stressful too.

“I’ve always wanted to shape my future career around working in the healthcare sector. My grandmother was a dental nurse so she sparked my interest in dentistry as a career option. When I researched universities, I was impressed with Cardiff as it was rated one of the best in the UK for Dentistry, so that made my mind up. Plus the idea of living and studying in Cardiff as really appealed to me – there’s so much going on with plenty of places to go out and enjoy.

“I got so much out of being a Seren student. I attended the Seren Conference in Newtown and was also invited to attend some smaller group sessions in Crickhowell, also organised by Seren, where I got to hear from and speak to current undergraduate students as well as recent graduates. These sessions were really useful and as we got to ask loads of questions on applying to university, what to expect at interviews and what sorts of test we might have to do.  This not only helped us to prepare but also meant that we knew what to expect when we arrived at our interviews, exams or practical tests. This made the experience less intimidating and overwhelming.

“For Dentistry I had to complete 12 practical tests in just 50 minutes. It was a really stressful experience but exciting. Having the opportunity through Seren to speak to a couple of current Medical and Dentistry students, I felt ready and knew I was getting the experience I needed for my course.

“When I finally received my offer from Cardiff I was delighted, especially as the entry requirement was high and I was concerned about getting the grades needed to get in.  I did miss the grade for Chemistry but still managed to secure my place due to doing so well in my practical tests and in my personal statement. I certainly put that down to the support, advice and guidance I received from the people at Seren.”

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