what is catalyst?

CATALYST is a global, digital enrichment programme for curious, ambitious 13-17 year-olds developed and delivered by Winchester College. We offer 1-2 week courses where students explore university-level topics with expert educators, engage with global leaders, and build critical skills for success in school, university and beyond.

- Ilyada, S22 Cohort

"Catalyst is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Incredible individuals all working towards one thing: change."

- Sonya, parent S22 Cohort

"It's bringing education to life: how is the world evolving, what skills are needed for the workplace… it's giving him wings."

- Yui, S22 Cohort

Interactive, informative, crazy, fun, intensive, immersive, and unforgettable!

- Parent of S22 student

Look at the content. Look at the style of teaching. Look at the calibre of the people to put that blend of topics, and expertise. It's a unique opportunity really.


what do students learn

CATALYST draws on Winchester College’s unique pedagogy and empowers students to explore topics that span tech & innovation, culture, industry, and climate change & conservation.

The CATALYST team focus on building skills in communication, critical thinking, negotiation, and narrative defence. Students also have the opportunity to work on their own Change Project, a capstone initiative allowing a deep dive into an individual’s area of interest or passion.

2023 programmes



Access the unique teaching practices and resources of one of the world’s most distinguished schools in a programme designed to challenge at every step.


Experience interdisciplinary problem solving aimed at helping you thrive in complexity, reason from first principles, and balance chaos with collaboration.


Join a thriving network of ambitious peers from around the world, sharing views and expertise, while connecting with the wider Winchester College network.


Undertake distinctive projects to stretch your horizons and set you apart. Tap into a network of admissions experts who can support your journey to university.


Equip yourself with the ability to interrogate and catalyse change through personal coaching from course tutors and an executive coach.

Key Skill

Learn through mistakes, make sense of the world, and collaborate to solve difficult problems... academic and professional skills that will last a lifetime.

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challenge your thinking

how can we ensure ethical ai governance?

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how can we restore biodiversity in our cities?

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what should we do today to govern ai tomorrow?

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how do we prepare for the next pandemic?

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how do we organise grassroots climate action?

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can we address the social media mental health crisis?

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Solving complex problems requires 21st Century skills and interdisciplinary thinking. CATALYST students receive a unique transcript with personalised feedback on strengths and areas for further development in 6 key competency areas.


Tell compelling stories that rally support from diverse stakeholders. Embrace productive and respectful disagreement.


Establish and defend your point in the face of challenge. Develop resilient perspectives.


Cut through the noise so that your message sticks. Dialogue and debate across lines of difference.


Transition between qualitative and quantitative to solve problems. Marry emotion and data to get the job done.


Understand root causes, solve from first principles. Rigorously assess information; see past fallacy.


Work with others so that the sum is greater than its parts. Practice decision making as part of a diverse team.

a path to university & beyond

Graduates are invited to join an alumni network, gaining access to select Winchester College and CATALYST programmes. Students may also receive a personalised letter of recommendation from Winchester College which can be addressed to the university of their choice, and/or funding to further develop their Change Project.

Emma: inspiring change through youth activism

Just because we can’t vote doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a seat at the table. Youth activism is one of the most powerful ways of effecting change as a young person.

Michael: rebuilding performance arts education

Performance arts education holds unique power in helping develop rounded young people but often goes overlooked in schools.

Maya: biomedical sensor for early disease detection

The biomedical tech revolution isn’t coming. Its here. We can do more to improve early detection of and response to pervasive illness.

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what our alumni say

- Maya, S22 Cohort

I gained skills from all different areas; teamwork, how to think at speed and then form a solid argument, how to be pushed out of your comfort zone, and then having enough confidence to present a speech or present a piece of work that you've done.

- Pat, S22 Cohort

They expect students to be knowledgeable in various areas and treat students as more mature people than school teachers usually do. This allows the students to be more independent but also be able to take part in more academically stimulating conversations.

- Elisabeth, S22 Cohort

Do you want to look at the world with a different lens? CATALYST is the way to go. You will work alongside people from all over the world who have a diversity of interests but who are all driven to make the world a better place. CATALYST’s style of teaching is creative, lively and interactive.

- Amelia, S22 Cohort

You get to meet so many amazing people, including your teachers, lecturers, guest speakers, and peers. It is definitely an experience that helped me grow as a person and also helped me expand my knowledge and manage my teamwork skills and work ethic better.

- Shotaro, S22 Cohort

A true eye-opener. The programme brings not only new perspectives but also important life skills. Socialising, sharing ideas, having a debate, and laughing with your cohort.

- Shakir, S22 Cohort

I have completely changed my outlook to studying, the future. I also learnt better study skills and time management.

- Parent of S22 student

I feel that he has gained new confidence and knowledge in how to develop an idea he is passionate about from the beginning. I also see it has deepened his belief that he can make a change.

- Yui, S22 Cohort

Interactive, informative, crazy, fun, intensive, immersive, and unforgettable!

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meet the team

We are educators, practiced changemakers, and tech fanatics.

Clarissa Farr

Author, Governor
Winchester College

Tom Quayle


Renaissance comedian
Iron Man competitor
Dog lover
Justin Pinnells


Peter Convey

Polar Ecologist,
British Antarctic Survey

Natural historian
Polar educator
Antarctic ambassador
Dr Adam Brown

Theoretical Physicist,
Stanford University

Natural philosopher
Quantum physicist
Paresh Thakrar

Winchester College

Sci-fi fanatic
North Londoner
Jonathan Shaw

Special Forces

Ali Harber

Deputy Head Pastoral,
Winchester College

Trail runner
Political enthusiast
Justin White

Dean of Chapel,
Winchester College

Proud Manxman
Chas McCaw

Head of Science,
Winchester College

Ageing athlete
Coffee addict
Dr Alex Clayton

Head of Geography,
Winchester College

Dr Tim Hands

Winchester College

Nishika de Rosairo

Experiential Insight

Experience junkie
Cameron Harris

Tutor & Coach

Dog walker
Dr Magnus Ryan

Cambridge Historian

Ninel Musson

VTH Season

Music guru
South African
Talent catapultier


Traditional Courses

Any paying applicant


Highly selective; restricted to no more than 30 students


Pre-recorded lectures and online tutorials


Immersive, challenge-based lessons and collaborative digital and in-person experiences


1 per course


Collection of Winchester College educators and leading keynote speakers


Generic feedback


Personalised 1-2-1 mentoring and coaching




Early application: £2,200
Regular application thereafter: £2,700

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"The strength and beauty of Catalyst lies in its digital establishment, allowing us to tap into a wealth of knowledge, practices, and people. This course provides a unique opportunity to understand change and explore its drivers, all at your fingertips, just one click away."

- Justin Pinnells, Catalyst Co-director and Head of Languages at Winchester College

“Catalyst draws on Winchester College's renowned Div - a truly unique, interdisciplinary course that all Winchester students complete, aimed at challenging students to think differently; to change not only what they know about the world, but how they think.”

- Tom Quayle, Catalyst Co-director and Head of Sixth Form at Winchester College

“Never has there been a more important time for students to think across disciplines - to adapt and solve problems as the world around them changes. It is exactly these skills that position students to thrive as they enter university.”

- Clarissa Farr, former High Mistress at St Paul’s Girls School


Founded in 1382, Winchester College continues to be one of the world’s most distinguished schools, famous for the unique ‘DIV’ programme of interdisciplinary education.

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do you have what it takes?

Please apply here.

common questions

Is Catalyst the same as Winchester College?

Catalyst is a two-week digital course offered by Winchester College, and taught by Winchester College educators. Catalyst also features keynote appearances from accomplished changemakers and provides students with personalised coaching and tutoring throughout the course.

How will Catalyst prepare me for university?

Catalyst is designed to stretch students. Engaging and rigorous, the course will cover a broad range of topic areas that go far beyond the scope of any standard secondary school curriculum. In addition to course content, the format - seminar, small group, team, 1-2-1 tutoring - mirrors that of many universities. Embedded in the program are opportunities for university entrance coaching and exposure to expert admissions advisors who can help demystify the application process.

Finally, through a solo summative project, students will have the chance to establish the foundations of their university application personal statement and of a Catalyst Transcript - a narrative detailing how students best learn, their accomplishments to date, and their ambitions beyond secondary school.

What will students learn during the programmes?

Catalyst explores the topic of ‘change’ in the past, present and future. Lessons are interdisciplinary, covering a variety of topics across STEM, and natural and social sciences, among other areas of study. Our aim is to help students develop the intellectual frameworks and hard skills needed to understand, analyse, and catalyse change.

What is a Catalyst Transcript?

A Catalyst Transcript (CT) is a comprehensive narrative document created by the Catalyst Team detailing students performance on the course. It provides personalised feedback and assessment against Catalyst key competency areas.

CTs are intended to be informative and guiding, surfacing strengths and areas for growth.

What are the 2023 programme dates, and what is the time commitment?

Please see our Programmes page for details about upcoming programmes in 2023.

Catalyst works with cohorts to ensure an immersive, interactive experience for all students. Programmes are full time; on average, students will spend 35 hours per week involved in course programming. Some students may choose to dedicate more of their time to the course, specifically with a view to working on their personal projects.

Importantly, though it is a full-time course, we fundamentally oppose ‘ZOOM-school’ and are extremely wary of screen fatigue. Students will not be ‘stuck behind the screen’ all day. Catalyst challenges students to participate in both remote and in-person activities in the student’s local community.

How much does it cost and is there financial aid?

Programme fees vary by programme and application date. In short, the earlier you apply and accept an offer, the lower the course fee. Please see our Pricing page for a summary of application deadlines and course fees.

Financial aid is available, and is offered on a case by case basis. Students who are invited to interview will have the chance to indicate whether or not they require financial aid.

Who is eligible for Catalyst?

Most Catalyst students are between 13-18 years old; entering Years 9 - 13.

If you are currently in your final year of secondary school, you may also be eligible to apply depending on the term dates of your academic year.

If you’re not sure of your eligibility please get in touch with us at: catalyst@wincoll.ac.uk

Is Catalyst accredited?

Catalyst is offered by Winchester College, one of the world’s most distinguished secondary schools. Winchester College is accredited.

Will students receive a certificate or diploma?

Yes, students who successfully complete the course will receive, among other things, both a completion certificate and a Catalyst Transcript. They will also be invited to a Catalyst alumni network, a growing community of Catalyst and Winchester College alumni.

Students who excel may also graduate with distinction.

What is the application process?

Students are asked to complete a short application form aimed at showcasing their strengths, interests and ambitions. It is designed to be very straightforward and, hopefully, enjoyable!

Successful applicants will be invited to an online interview with our admissions team prior to receiving a final result.

When will I find out if I have been accepted?

We want to respect your time. We aim to respond to all applications within seven working days. If successful, we will arrange a short online interview. Following the interview, we will let you know if you have been accepted or waitlisted within seven working days of the interview date.

Is Catalyst aimed at students interested in a specific subject or discipline?

The course is interdisciplinary, meaning that students will have exposure to a range of subject areas across STEM, and natural and social sciences.

Why interdisciplinary? The problems facing humanity are more complex and interconnected than ever before. Rooted in Winchester College’s established DIV methodology, we believe that interdisciplinary study helps students develop a diverse and comprehensive set of skills and perspectives relevant for today and, more importantly, for tomorrow.

How many students will be accepted?

~20 students are invited to participate in 1-week courses; ~30 students are invited to participate in 2-week programmes.

We do not specify exact enrolment as we hold high standards for admissions and will only accept those who are successful.

How big are classes?

Students will participate in a range of different class sizes including: full cohort seminars and panels, roundtable live lessons the Catalyst team, small group sessions with mentors and coaches, and 1-2-1 coaching and feedback sessions.

What will I need in order to participate?

You will need to have access to reliable, high speed internet during the programme. You’ll also need a laptop with good video and audio conferencing capabilities. We recommend having access to a headset and mobile phone with camera/video recording as well.

Is there a language requirement?

You must be a native or fluent English language speaker.

Is Catalyst digital/online or in-person?

Catalyst is a digital programme. Students can participate from anywhere in the world. However, we fundamentally oppose ZOOM-school and are extremely wary of screen fatigue. Students will not be ‘stuck behind the screen’ all day. Catalyst challenges students to participate in both remote and in-person activities in the student’s local community.

Off-screen interaction is embedded in Catalyst Challenges and programme content. Details will be shared with course participants in the pre-programme period leading up to kick-off.

And, when students are ‘online’, they will have access to a custom-designed online environment that aims to foster interaction, idea sharing, and cohort community building.

We really don’t want you to be on mute 🙂

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Challenge your thinking

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