We provide a group leader handbook and a participant handbook packed with useful information before arrival. Below are answers to some commonly asked questions:

About the Programme

If students are not taught in English, they will be asked for their IELTS score (or equivalent) when they apply for the programme. If they do not have any evidence of their English level, we will accept confirmation by a teacher that the student will be able to:

  • take part in conversations using everyday vocabulary (not technical)
  • understand most written text (not technical)
  • make notes and understand most of the general meaning of lectures and presentations.

We may also request a short personal essay (about the student's academic studies, extra-curricular activities and university aspirations), send an English pre-test or conduct a short Skype interview.

Before the programme, participants will be sent a vocabulary list to study, as well as guidelines for writing a draft personal statement. We suggest each student writes a one-page draft personal statement and sends it to us in advance. We can then team them up with the right student mentor, who will help them work on it during the course. These pre-course activities are strongly recommended, but are not compulsory if, for example, students are too busy with schoolwork and exams before they arrive.

Yes, a Certificate of Attendance will be awarded to participants at the end of the programme, together with a Leadership award accredited by Sports Leaders UK and a personal report written by their course tutors and mentors, highlighting both what the participants have learned and how they could make improvements through further study.

Yes, participants will be in an English environment at least 12 hours a day and will be expected to speak and write in English, with support from the course tutors and student mentors when needed.

At the start of the programme, every student will be given an English placement test, which enables us to allocate you to a class which is appropriate for your age and English ability. The level and pace of teaching will be adjusted accordingly. Our tutors and student mentors are experienced in teaching students from different backgrounds and cultures and will provide plenty of individual support, both inside and outside the classroom. If you are likely to be going on to further study after high school, this programme will be suitable for you.

We encourage participants to contact their parents initially to reassure them they have arrived safely. There is free Wifi available in Girton College and participants will be issued with a password on arrival. However, please be aware that coverage is variable due to the age of the college buildings. We can also help participants buy economical SIM cards for their mobile phones.

The best time normally for parents to speak with their children is during the lunchtime break between 12.15 and 13.45 (UK time) from Monday to Friday. Please allow for the difference between UK time and parents' local time. On Saturdays and Sundays, children have outings or free time and can make or receive calls during the day. We also encourage the leaders accompanying the group to keep parents regularly informed about the children's learning and activities, e.g. using social media or a blog.

If their child has travelled in a group, parents should call the group's leader in the first instance to explain the situation. The group's leader can then speak with a member of the Cambridge Dream Senior Management Team who is always available in the college to deal with any emergencies, day or night. A 24-hour emergency contact telephone number will be provided to the leader which can be used outside of 'office hours'. If the participant is not travelling with a group, the parent should call their child who can go directly to a member of the Cambridge Dream Senior Management Team.

Parents are welcome to visit, if this is arranged by email or telephone with the Programme Director, Laura Davies, before the start of the programme. They can attend the presentation of certificates, reports and awards at the end of the programme. They are also invited to join the formal dinner in the College Great Hall, if they are in Cambridge during the day this takes place.

There are many hotels, apartments and Bed and Breakfast establishments in Cambridge. Cambridge Dream is happy to provide information to help parents make their arrangements if they decide to visit Cambridge.

Our summer programme is designed and delivered by Cambridge Dream, not by the university. The Cambridge Dream founder and Programme Director, Laura Davies, is a Cambridge University humanities alumna and her husband and son are Cambridge University alumni in science and medicine respectively. Since 2015, we have run a summer school in Girton College (one of the university’s 31 colleges) each year. During the summer all the Cambridge Dream managers live in the college alongside the course participants, together with the 15 or so Cambridge University undergraduate students we recruit each summer in a wide range of degree subjects.

Academic staff from Cambridge University deliver lectures and workshops, as well as providing learning materials which students can continue to work on after returning home. We also go outside Girton College for classes in various university faculties and research centres.

The Cambridge undergraduates partner with the course participants according to their registered subject preferences and can discuss any aspects of applying for or studying their subject at university. They help the older participants (15-18 years) with personal statements, as well as providing subject-specific mock interviews and supervisions (small group discussions, typical of the Oxbridge style of learning).

University preparation and careers advice are provided in the summer by an award-winning school career advisor who works for the rest of the year at the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology, which is a University College on the Bio-medical Campus.

No, anyone who is looking for a challenging and stimulating summer school will benefit from attending. The academic enrichment and skills gained, such as communication, leadership, creativity, interview techniques, independent study, critical thinking and personal development planning, are useful for everyone who is considering applying to a high-ranking university, whether in the UK, US or elsewhere in the world.

We welcome both individual applicants and students who travel in a group with a leader. A suitable leader (normally a Cambridge Dream member of staff) will be assigned to individual students on their arrival in Girton College. If students do come in a group, we encourage them to mix with the other participants. We treat all our students as individuals!

We welcome students between the ages of 13 and 18 years old, as long as they are still in high school when they apply. Please remember that these are programmes for teenagers. This means strict rules apply for everyone!


Participants will get up at about 7.00. Breakfast is from 7.30 to 8.45. Mornings are from 9.00 to 12.15, with a mid-morning break. Lunch is from 12.15 to 13.30. Afternoons are from 13.45 to 17.00, with a mid-afternoon break. Dinner is from 17.15 to 18.30. In the evening, participants can enjoy various supervised entertainments until 21.00. We expect students to be in bed by 22.00.

For classes led by mentors, such as personal statement practice and mock interviews, there will usually be a maximum of 6 participants. Other taught classes will usually be a maximum of 12 participants. Lectures will be provided to all the students together.

We have designed all our lessons and teaching materials to achieve the learning objectives of our programme. Our focus is on delivering hands-on, interactive workshops and stimulating team challenges and activities, which encourage students to become self-directed, reflective learners. Instead of textbooks, you will receive printed worksheets and course notes which you keep in a folder which we provide. You will update the folder throughout the course and take it home at the end.

All of our teachers are UK graduates with teaching qualifications. Many of the teaching faculty are Cambridge alumni or qualified University lecturers. The student mentors are current undergraduates studying at the Universities of Cambridge or Oxford. The Sports Leadership tutor is a qualified sports tutor, who is accredited by Sports Leaders UK to teach the Sports Leaders award.

The leaders will be assisting the Cambridge Dream Senior Management Team in ensuring the safe, effective delivery of the programme and safeguarding the welfare of all the participants, whilst they are in our care. As previously stated, a suitable leader will be assigned to individual students, who are not part of a group.

We ask leaders to help the Cambridge Dream staff by ensuring that learners always attend their timetabled daytime workshops, activities and excursions punctually, and join in the evening social entertainments. Leaders are expected to ensure that participants understand they must:

  • Never go off by themselves!
  • Always know when and where the meeting point is whilst out on excursions!
  • Always wear their Cambridge Dream wristband which has an emergency contact number!

Cambridge Dream staff will supervise learners while they are attending all daytime timetabled workshops, activities and excursions and evening social entertainments. We ask the leaders to be present and in charge of their participants at the following other times throughout the programme, when learners may not be supervised:

  • all meal times
  • at the end of afternoon activities
  • at the end of evening activities
  • during any free time on excursions
  • overnight.


There will be organised excursions to London and Oxford, as well as to local attractions in Cambridge, such as the Fitzwilliam Museum and the orchard tea garden in Grantchester. Other excursion destinations are available if requested at least 4 weeks before the start of the programme! Prices for optional extra excursions are available on request.

On Arrival

On arrival at the UK airport or ferry port, participants and leaders who are travelling as a group will be met by a Cambridge Dream representative and taken to their coach for the onward transfer to Cambridge. At the end of the course you will be taken back to the airport or ferry port for your return home. Individual transfer arrangements will be made for students who are not travelling in a group. Charges will apply for students requiring a private VIP ‘meet and greet’ transfer service – for an individual quote please contact us, stating the airport and time of arrival and/or departure.

You will have a drink and a snack (or a full meal, depending on the time of your arrival). You will be given a Cambridge Dream rucksack containing your programme timetable, a wristband, a Cambridge Dream polo shirt, map of the college, a pen, an enrolment form and the rules. The wristband has an emergency contact telephone number printed on it and you must wear it at all times. You will be introduced to your student mentor who will show you where your bedroom is and take you around the college pointing out the location of the dining hall, classrooms and office.

About the College

Participants will be staying in Girton College, one of the 31 colleges of Cambridge University. This is the college where the Programme Director Laura Davies studied. Girton is a beautiful college, set amongst 50 acres of parkland and gardens just outside the centre of Cambridge (about 10 minutes to the city centre/Kings College by bus). Here is a link to the college website http://www.girton.cam.ac.uk/. Girton College has major historic significance as it was founded in 1869 during the movement for women's suffrage in the UK, by Lady Stanley, Emily Davies and Barbara Bodichon, as Britain's first residential college for women offering an education at degree level. The founders' vision was: Everything good for the body, soul and spirit. Today, Girton still strongly supports these principles and is a thriving college for Cambridge University men and women.

Girton has lovely rooms and plenty of outside space for BBQs, garden parties, treasure hunts, sports, etc. We will also of course be visiting the iconic Kings College in Cambridge and can arrange to visit any other colleges in Cambridge or Oxford that students want to see.

Participants will have single bedrooms used by Girton College students in term time, with shared bathroom facilities. The rooms are located close together in one accommodation wing. Bedding and towels will be changed on a weekly basis. Boys and girls will be accommodated separately. It is strictly forbidden for boys to go into girls' rooms or vice versa. Your mentors and leaders will live in the same accommodation wing as you.

The meals in Girton College are fresh, locally sourced English food of a high quality. For breakfast there is a choice of full cooked English breakfast, fruit, yoghurt, cereals, pastries and croissants. For lunch and dinner you can choose daily from a large selection of hot food, including vegetarian options, a soup of the day, fresh sandwiches, paninis and a salad bar.

Bathrooms and Laundry

Your mentor will show you how to operate the washing machines in the college. The tokens for washing your clothes cost £2.00 and are available from the Porter's Lodge. There are also tumble driers for drying your clothes and these cost £1.00 for a medium load.

It is safe to dispose of toilet paper down the toilet in the UK but women and girls should put sanitary towels in the disposal containers provided next to the toilet rather than into the toilet bowl. Water is plentiful in the UK and it is therefore expected that the toilet is flushed every time it is used.

What to bring

It is recommended that you bring enough clothes to last for at least one week without washing. Please be responsible for looking after your personal belongings and keeping your room tidy. A full list of things to bring is included in your participant handbook.

The UK weather is variable but not extreme. In addition to summer clothes, we suggest you bring some warm clothing for excursions and evening activities, plus a small umbrella/parasol. You will be given a polo shirt free of charge when you arrive, which must be worn during all excursions. If a formal dinner in the College Hall is included in your programme, you will need to bring smart clothes and shoes.

No, participants will have plenty of delicious food to choose from and if they bring snacks from home they will probably end up throwing them away!

This is a matter of personal choice. We recommend bringing around £200 for personal expenses, gifts and souvenirs to take home; it is better to bring £10 and £20 notes rather than £50 notes.

Please report any theft or missing item to the Programme Director (Laura Davies) or Operations Manager (Keith Welsh) as soon as possible, so that they can assist you. Most insurance policies require you to report loss or theft to the police and to obtain a report number before they will consider any claim. If you intend to make an insurance claim for loss or theft, you MUST report the loss or theft as soon as it is discovered. Our staff will do their utmost to make any difficult or time-consuming insurance procedures easier for leaders and participants, accompanying them if requested to the police station and helping them with paperwork.

Pastoral & Medical Care

All Cambridge Dream staff are carefully checked both by us and the responsible UK authorities (the Disclosure and Barring Service – DBS) to ensure they are suitable for working with children. Cambridge Dream recognises that in all matters concerning child protection, the welfare of the child is of paramount consideration. There are Health and Safety Policies and Safeguarding Policies operated by both the College and Cambridge Dream. All Cambridge Dream staff receive specific training in safeguarding children.

If you are ill or need a doctor, tell your leader or a member of the Cambridge Dream staff immediately! There is a Doctors' clinic nearby and Cambridge has a world-class teaching hospital, Addenbrooke's. For any minor injuries, there are first aid facilities and trained staff available at all times in the college. Our Senior Management Team and mentors live in the college close to the participants. Leaders from the participating schools can provide extra advice and help if required.

If you are unhappy for any reason, please do speak to your group's leader or to Keith Welsh who will do their best to help you and allay your concerns. Keith is the person within Cambridge Dream responsible for providing appropriate pastoral care to all under-18s and for ensuring the safeguarding and welfare of all our learners.

Please note that Cambridge Dream staff are not allowed to administer any type of medication to learners, whether brought from home or purchased in the UK. Group leaders may assist students, if this has been previously agreed with parents.

Participant Absences

All participants enrolled on Cambridge Dream programmes are expected to attend 100% of their workshops, activities, excursions and evening social entertainments, in order to receive their certificate for having completed the course. Absence, for any reason other than illness, will not normally be accepted. Absences must be reported to the Programme Director, who will then inform the tutors and mentors who are completing the register for that day.

The activities we do are good fun and there is something for everyone – from arts and crafts to Scottish dancing and croquet. Trying something new helps you develop confidence in different situations. You don't have to excel – just take part!