presentation skills

In addition to high academic grades, universities and employers are increasingly demanding that top performers demonstrate ‘soft skills’ such as critical thinking, communication, creative thinking and collaboration. Cambridge Dream’s summer school will help learners develop these valuable skills, enabling them to:

  • Reach well-reasoned opinions which they can express confidently.
  • Study independently and show they have a passion for learning.
  • Apply thinking skills critically and creatively to resolve complex problems.
  • Interact and work collaboratively in small teams.
  • Become more socially confident individuals with good self-awareness and leadership skills.
  • Answer tough interview questions and write a strong personal statement (16-18 years only).

Being better informed and prepared will improve pupils’ chances of being admitted to any top-ranking university and help them flourish, both inside and outside the classroom.

Cambridge Dream provides interactive and enjoyable sessions very relevant to participants’ needs and aspirations, which enable the development of critical thinking, problem-solving and presentation skills. There is obvious commitment and passion from all staff for the care of participants, and clear understanding of how to foster skills development. Consequently, young people are supported very effectively, develop necessary skills and prepare for university.

Inspector (BAC report 2019)

Key Skills and Knowledge for the 21st Century

Academic research shows that a range of inter-related cognitive and non-cognitive competencies are needed for academic attainment and career success in the 21st century. Cognitive competencies relate to mental processes such as critical thinking, reasoning and creative thinking, required for high levels of literacy and numeracy, while non-cognitive skills focus on attitudes, values, interaction, communication, motivation and behaviour. The Cambridge Dream summer programme is based on an inter-disciplinary learning approach which gives students the opportunity to develop a wide spectrum of transferable leadership, learning and life skills which embrace both cognitive and non-cognitive competencies.

Younger students (12-15 years old) work in mixed-nationality teams on exciting STEAM-focused projects and challenges, such as robotics, raspberry pi coding, 3D design and print, and virtual reality, which are carefully designed to deliver targeted skills outcomes.

Older students (16-18 years old) take part in interactive workshops focused on developing higher-level transferable leadership and academic skills, such as extended subject knowledge, public speaking, essay-writing, independent study, research, critical thinking and persuasive reasoning.

In addition, both age groups (12-15 years and 16-18 years) take part in skill-building team challenges and activities, such as a Model United Nations debate and a Dragon’s Den business pitch, where they work together in small groups to articulate convincing arguments and gain a deeper understanding of contemporary global technological, environmental and geopolitical issues, from artificial intelligence and social media privacy to sustainability and social inequality.

During their time with us in Cambridge, students will undertake a wide range of challenging tasks and activities to improve their confidence and motivation, and hone their abilities in a combination of the 10 key competencies listed below.

See a sample 2-week timetable for 12-15 year olds and a sample 2-week timetable for 16-18 year olds showing which specific skills and knowledge are delivered by different elements of their programmes.


1. Communication (12-15 years and 16-18 years)

  • Prepare and make a team presentation.
  • Debate a controversial topic and engage with different viewpoints respectfully.
  • Structure a persuasive speech, link arguments and apply rhetorical techniques.
  • Understand the language of a Shakespeare play.
  • ​Explain tasks and issue instructions effectively.
  • Give and receive peer feedback constructively.

Leadership and Teamwork

2. Leadership and Teamwork (12-15 years and 16-18 years)

  • Complete team challenges in a range of contexts (sports, robotics, business, presentations, Model United Nations).
  • Understand the role of leadership and differing leadership styles.
  • Identify own strengths and weaknesses as potential leaders and team members.
  • Develop leadership and teamwork skills, including clear communication, critical thinking and collaboration on tasks.
  • Learn how to engage with different opinions and resolve conflicting views.

Thinking Skills

3. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving (12-15 years and 16-18 years)

  • Understand the logic of critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Practise verbal reasoning problems.
  • Develop skills in spatial awareness, visual reasoning and data interpretation.
  • Identify conclusions, assumptions and flaws in arguments.
  • Recognise how to strengthen or weaken an argument.


4. Creativity and Lateral Thinking (12-15 years and 16-18 years)

  • Generate innovative business ideas.
  • Explore acting and improvisation skills.
  • Perform (music, drama or comedy) in public.
  • Use imagination and experimentation in an ‘arts and crafts’ context.
  • Understand and apply lateral thinking techniques.

Study Skills

5. Independent Study and Resilience (12-15 years and 16-18 years)

  • Increase awareness of different learning styles and personal learning preferences.
  • Understand about healthy choices and develop resilience and problem-solving skills
  • Develop note-taking and independent research skills.
  • Practise mind mapping and other study tools.
  • Acquire time management focus and techniques.

6. Extension of Subject Knowledge (12-15 years and 16-18 years)

  • Extend subject knowledge beyond the examination curriculum.
  • Discover areas of interest to explore in personal statements and interviews (16-18 years only).
  • Test out concepts and develop solutions to real-life problems (16-18 years only).
  • Work on projects and case studies relevant to specialist subject (16-18 years only).
  • Increased understanding of subject-specific university requirements, graduate level studies and career opportunities (16-18 years only).

Academic English

7. Academic Writing (12-15 years and 16-18 years)

  • Read and understand a variety of academic texts.
  • Increase awareness of the use of style and structure in academic writing.
  • Expand vocabulary for academic writing.
  • Practise academic writing skills for the purposes of university entrance (15-18 years only).
  • Understand plagiarism and referencing in an academic context (15-18 years only).

University Application

8. University Perspective (12-15 years and 16-18 years)

  • Understand what top universities are looking for.
  • Understand the key differences and similarities between the US and UK application systems.
  • Learn how to structure and write an effective personal statement (15-18 years only).
  • Practise useful interview techniques and answers (15-18 years only).
  • Take part in a supervision (small class discussion) about a chosen academic topic.

Cultural Enrichment

9. Cultural Awareness (12-15 years and 16-18 years)

  • Work in mixed teams with students from UK and across the globe.
  • Visit places of British historical and cultural interest.
  • Learn about differences in social etiquette between Britain and other countries.
  • Understand how teaching and learning in the UK differs from other countries.
  • Gain insights into similar concerns shared by young people from different cultures.

Personal Development

10. Personal Development Planning (16-18 years only)

  • Understand personal aspirations, values and strengths.
  • Research courses, institutions and potential career choices.
  • Identify new skills and knowledge acquired during the summer school.
  • Define future areas to work on.
  • Develop a personal action plan with SMART objectives and measures of progress.