Taster of university life to encourage teenagers to raise aspirations and aim higher

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Pupils who may become the first in their family to attend university took part in a free summer school this month to gain experience of higher education in Sheffield.

A group of 30 Year 11 pupils in the region were selected from over 80 applicants by the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences outreach team to try out university life for four days.

“We select the most able students with an interest in studying, but the least likely to go to university,” said Sophie Philpott, outreach activities officer, “We hope to enthuse and raise aspirations of young people so they can achieve their potential.”

This specially-designed summer school was held for the second year.

Sophie added: “The programme hopes to build pupils’ confidence, make them feel comfortable here at the university, and give them a chance to meet real students. The prospect of university certainly comes onto their radar as a result if they haven’t already thought about it.”

The group of students lived in the halls at Ranmoor Village, with 12 student ambassadors. The pupils were divided up based on similar interests. The school started with campus tours and team-building exercises, before delving into the 12 subjects in the Faculty of Social Sciences with lectures and seminars from PhD students and academics.

Sophie Philpott, said: “The school is all about encouraging a natural progression for young people to make informed choices about their future, and a possible career.

“Participants experience the whole of university life and we engage them in sports and societies including Ultimate Frisbee and the Flying Teapot Society for circus skills.

“In the evenings we take them to the cinema, and we have a BBQ at Ranmoor with karaoke, which is all free of charge. Pupils can have real conversations with current students and academics, and even mingle and chat over lunch in the university cafés - it’s really powerful stuff.”

On the last day, pupils were givewn information on financial support for Higher Education. The pupils gave presentations, demonstrating what they had learned at their time at the university, attended by parents and carers. The Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Social Sciences presented a certificate to each student.

Sophie added: “The presentations are so moving to watch and be a part of and I am always amazed by the impact they have. The pupils all develop so much and often come back to the university on our individual activity days.”

Joe Hartley, Outreach Communications Assistant, said: “The summer school is unique and is invaluable in what it offers. I wish I’d had the opportunity to have a taste of university life before making the big decision of applying or not.”

For more information on the summer school and other activities that the Outreach Team offers, visit their website for news, events, and videos: Social Sciences