My school, Morecambe High, was a grammar school turned comprehensive which regularly sent a few students to Oxbridge. The decision to apply to Hertford was mainly determined by the fact that someone else from my school had got in to read English the previous year. The possibility of receiving an offer solely on interview was obviously attractive too, though I did not know this as the Tanner Scheme at the time. I had scarcely ever met anyone from a private school before arriving in Oxford, had no real perception of odds massively skewed in their favour and thought it was quite normal for state school pupils both to apply to Oxbridge and to get in. Possibly I was not typical of the people the Tanner Scheme was designed to help, but was no less delighted to benefit from it.
I have no doubt that the discipline of the tutorial system, having to turn up with an essay on a different topic once or twice a week, often with the ink almost literally still wet, and sometimes breathless from running over the bridge (try reading out your essay before you’ve got your breath back!), developed skills which have stood me in good stead ever since. What I most enjoyed though was the fun I had making new friendships, several of which have survived the intervening years, and enjoying many and varied aspects of student life: rowing, singing madrigals, Oxford pubs, summer plays in college gardens, putting the world to rights late into the night. I also remember Hertford as a tolerant and inclusive place with a strong sense of community, characteristics which I sense it still has today.
I count myself extraordinarily lucky to have experienced all this free of charge. Hertford’s continuing efforts to make the benefits of an Oxford education available to applicants from all backgrounds regardless of means certainly deserve to be supported.