Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the University of Durham (HE 74)



  This year has seen the launch of the STARS. This is a programme that is aimed at young people with no history of Higher Education in their family. The programme enables pupils to find out about Higher Education and helps to break down some of the barriers that might prevent them from aiming for their true educational potential. All parts of the programme involve undergraduates working with school pupils. STARS allows schools to choose from the following projects.

ACE days

  The youngest age group we work with is year nine pupils. The work is focussed on raising their aspirations, encouraging them to aim towards higher education in the future. These sessions involve the year group working in small groups with undergraduate students either at the University or in school. Through a series of fun exercises they learn about the different entry routes into Higher Education, the vast range of courses available and what it is like to be a student. For many of the pupils this is the first time that they have had any contact with students—and they suddenly learn that many of the students are just like them! Schools that have taken part in these events have found them very useful. The feedback from pupils is always very positive, telling of how they have learnt what University life is like and that they are keen to work towards it as a goal in the future.

Student Mentors

  The school select fifty pupils for undergraduate students to work with over a three week period. Over the three weeks students work with the pupils on a series of activities the aim being to set their sights high and aim for their true potential. All pupils who take part in the workshops enjoy a visit to the University.

Year 10 and 11: Exam Slam

  Like the work with year nine this work also gives school pupils the opportunity to work with undergraduate students. These Key Stage 4 pupils work on the exam slam project. This is a series of activities designed to help pupils with exam technique, they learn how to plan their work, pick up handy revision and study skills tips. The real advantage of the programme is that the pupils work with students, who have first hand experience of exam stress and how to overcome it. The project also gives the opportunity for the pupils to build up a relationship with the undergraduates and through this they begin to understand what University is like. As a direct result of working on the project many of the pupils begin to think about their own future and are keen to work towards university.

  As part of Exam Slam some students have also visited the University. On the visits pupils get the opportunity to tour the University, this is a valuable experience as it highlights how higher education is different to school and college. For many it is this difference that puts them off striving for University; a visit allows them to see that University is a community that they could be a part of in the future.

Student Ambassador

  As part of STARS at Stockton we are working in partnership with Teesside University on the Student Ambassador Project. Undergraduate Students from both Universities act as ambassadors for the year visiting schools to work with year nine pupils, developing their skills and interest in further education. Pupils are given the opportunity to visit both Universities and continue to work with the students throughout years ten and eleven.

Higher Education Summer School

  As part of the Government's Excellence in Cities programme we were successful in our bid to host a Higher Education School. We received funding for 120 places for pupils from South and West Yorkshire. The University funded a further 20 places for local pupils from the County Durham and Teesside area. The students attending were given a real experience of University life, they chose to specialise in the Arts, Social Sciences or Sciences and the days were filled with a busy schedule of lectures and seminars provided by different departments across the University. The students were resident in St Aidan's or St Mary's colleges, where the evenings were spent taking part in a number of activities. By the end of the week the students had a real understanding of University life and left the University looking forward to being their own careers in Higher Education.

Stockton LEA Gifted and Talented Summer School

  Working closely with Stockton LEA's team of advisors the University played host to the LEA's Gifted and Talented Summer school. The inspiration for the week came from the campus' location and the theme of the summer school was the river. Most of the children attending had never been to a University before and the week opened up a whole new world to them, giving them the opportunity to see what is available to them in the future. We hope to build on this success next year.

University of Durham
September 2000

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