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Pupils urged to make higher education a top priority


Pupils urged to make higher education a top priority

Pupils from Mitcham Vale School visit the University to learn more about the opportunities available studying science and technologyMore than 1,000 pupils from schools across Kingston and neighbouring boroughs have been getting a feel for university life. They have been the latest participants in a series of events organised by the University’s Education Liaison team to increase awareness about higher education amongst school children. Activities have included conferences and discovery days for pupils in Years 7 to 9, subject taster days, summer schools targeted at pupils in Year 10 and open days. The action-packed programme has also included information events for teachers and careers advisers. 

Education liaison manager Jayne Clanfield said her team had just wrapped up an intense six-week schedule, including a schools conference for 190 pupils and a science and technology challenge attended by a further 50 school children.  “Many of the young people don’t realise that university could be an option for them because they’re worried about financial constraints or simply don’t think their grades will be good enough,” Ms Clanfield said. “Our aim is to set their minds at rest and convince them that they actually do have the potential to complete a degree.”

The science and technology challenge, which took place in July, was run specifically for pupils in Years 8 and 9 who had shown an aptitude for those subjects. It was aimed at some of the highest achievers in borough schools who tackled a range of group tasks, designed to broaden their attitudes to science and encourage them to go on to study the subject at university. 

The events were particularly important for pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 because they encouraged them to think about the wide range of subjects they could study at degree level at a time when they needed to start giving some serious thought to their futures, Ms Clanfield said.  “It’s important for teenagers to be able to see for themselves just how university could improve their career prospects and, perhaps most importantly, how enjoyable it can actually be,” she added.

Nearly 30 pupils from Christ’s School in Richmond attended a schools’ conference held at the Kingston Hill campus in July.  The school’s flexible learning co-ordinator, Sarah Brown, said it had been an invaluable opportunity to show her pupils the options that were available to them.  “Many pupils wonder why it’s important to do well at school and interactive sessions such as these put things into context for them,” she said.  “Attending workshop sessions gives them the confidence and inspiration to take more control of their lives and they begin to understand that their approach to lessons now will have a big impact on the choices they are able to make in the long term.”

Christ’s pupil Juliecia Plummer had never visited a university before and did not know what to expect. “We were shown around the campus and had some of our lessons in a big lecture hall. It wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be,” the 14 year old said.  “We learned some really interesting things but it didn’t feel like being in school. I think it was because we used different techniques like remote controls with voting buttons similar to ones on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The session really made me think about what I want to do after I leave school.”

The Education Liaison team has complemented its events activity with visits to more than 25 schools in the region during the past two months, giving lectures and informal talks to pupils, parents and teachers.  Kingston undergraduates have also been doing their part to spread the word about the importance of higher education by speaking at schools and colleges and by running tours on campus


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