School children urged to aim high and reach for a place at university
19 January 2016
Primary school children from some of the more disadvantaged areas of North Wales have been encouraged to set their sights high and think about studying for a degree.
The North Wales Reaching Wider Partnership held an interactive event at the Stiwt Theatre, Rhos, to introduce 10 and 11 year old pupils from the Wrexham region to different aspects of university life.
Glyndwr University hosted a quiz focusing on university terminology, with Bangor University leading a session about student life and Chester one on academic life.
The Reaching Wider partnership aims to increase higher education participation from under-represented groups in Wales.
All six schools which attended the event – Penycae, Brynteg, Hafod-y-Wern, Gwenfro, and Welsh medium schools Ysgol Bodhyfryd and Ysgol Min y Ddol – are located in areas covered by Communities First, a Welsh Government initiative designed to improve living standards and reduce poverty.
Rachel Cupit, learning officer for Communities First in Caia Park and Hightown, said: “It’s likely that many of the pupils who attended the day won’t have parents who are graduates so the aim was to give them the opportunity to find out about what life is like in a university and inspire them to think about accessing higher education in future.
“The pupils got to see how many different options are open to them in terms of staying at home while studying or moving away to experience university life.”
The quiz hosted by Glyndwr University introduced pupils to words such as ‘Freshers’, ‘graduation’ and ‘university campuses’.
Sarah Gaffney, widening access coordinator, said: “Glyndwr University is one of the leading universities in the UK for opening up higher education to those from non-traditional backgrounds.
“Events such as this allow us to connect with the next generation of potential students and make them aware of the opportunities available to them in higher education.”
Last year, the team at Glyndwr was praised for the innovative way it used the Harry Potter series of books to inspire primary school pupils in deprived areas to pursue a higher education.
Its award-winning widening access team visited schools in towns across Denbighshire, including Rhyl and Denbigh, as part of another Communities First project, and used metaphors taken from JK Rowling’s stories – words the youngsters understand and go on to explain - before demonstrating phrases and tools used in and around universities, such as ‘graduation’, ‘degree’ and ‘undergraduate’ – with great success.
Sarah said the institution’s emphasis on aspiration, enjoyment and education has appealed to young audiences.
“The scheme allowed us to speak to them before they go to secondary school with a view to inspiring them to achieve good grades at GCSE level and in further education,” said Sarah.
“The schools are in socially deprived areas, with high unemployment, low incomes and low progression into university and professional jobs.
“We are trying to break down the barriers and preconceptions that the children and their parents may have about higher education.”
Photos show pupils from Penycae school tackling the university quiz set by Glyndwr University.