Secondary school pupils in Northamptonshire have been tutored by some of the best student brains in the county thanks to a partnership with the University of Northampton.
A group of PhD students spent six weeks working with 13 and 14-year-olds at two county schools with the aim of inspiring them to work at a higher level.
The UNI Club initiative saw a series of student-led workshops held at Northampton Academy and Kettering Buccleuch Academy during June and July, and now the pupils must write a 1,000-word assignment over the summer holidays based on what they’ve learnt.
Director of Aspiration at Buccleuch, Jo Massey, said: “The project has enabled students to research a topic in depth and explore a different way of learning. It has developed their essay writing skills and their team-working skills and it has given them an insight into the methods of study used at university.”
The sessions aren’t just beneficial for the Year 7 children, the University’s PhD students also get a lot out of the partnership, as Cynthia Atufu confirms. The Environmental Science PhD student said: “Before the UNI Club, I had ambitions to teach, but wasn’t 100 per cent sure about my ability to do it. But working with the young people at Buccleuch has been really fulfilling and boosted my confidence – now I know that teaching is for me.
Cynthia added: “I’ve been very impressed with the group of pupils I have been working with. We’ve been exploring the issues around environmental sustainability and how they can help to change their attitudes and everyday behaviours, with the aim of having a positive impact on the planet.
“I was surprised by how much the young people already knew, and they’ve really enjoyed building on that knowledge and studying in a deeper way over the six weeks.
“Hopefully I have helped to inspire them to consider taking their education to the next level when they leave school.”
The UNI Club is led by the Aspire Schools Engagement team. The Aspire Network, which is based at the University, and counts county colleges and schools amongst its members, sees partners work together in a coordinated way to raise the aspirations of Northamptonshire’s young people.
In summer 2016, the University welcomed around 1,700 primary and secondary school pupils onto campus.