The United Learning University Fellowship Programme has welcomed its second cohort of students with a two-day residential in Cambridge.
The Fellowship Programme is a year-long initiative funded by the United Learning Partnership Fund which aims to close the university access gap; currently only 24% of state educated students go on to university compared to 64% of those with private schooling. The programme is just one of a series of enrichment opportunities offered through the Partnership Fund to students and staff alike.
The inaugural cohort of fellows graduated in February 2016 after a highly successful pilot year in which they built new relationships, practised collaborative and innovative problem-solving and honed their presentation skills.
Each of the 2016-17 fellows is a high-performing Year 12 student with aspirations to attend a top university to read subjects such as law, medicine and history. The cohort of 33 hails from 11 of the Group’s academies and independent schools across England:
- Accrington Academy
- William Hulme’s Grammar School
- Sheffield Park Academy
- Kettering Buccleuch Academy
- North Oxfordshire Academy
- Paddington Academy
- Caterham School
- Greenacre School
- Midhurst Rother College
- Shoreham Academy
The April residential for the incoming cohort was held in the inspirational setting of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. Students completed an orienteering challenge around the college and took part in team building activities based on real military exercises.
The students were also treated to a panel discussion on ‘Making Choices’ with UCAS and current Cambridge undergraduates, as well as a communication workshop with Debate Mate.
In the afternoons they sat down for planning sessions to map out how they could deliver university access projects for younger students back at their own schools. These will be delivered through assemblies, PSHE workshops and tutor sessions, with the content created and chosen independently by the fellows. Early ideas focused on the societal benefits of increased participation in Higher Education such as greater social cohesion and tolerance, increased participation in charitable organisations and more interest in national and local politics.
Following the residential, one student said:
“I learnt a great amount about leadership, planning for success and of course about university and where to find the information that many of us are looking for.
“I met a lot of new people and worked alongside nearly all of the fellows and enjoyed getting to know them all. I quickly realised they are a highly intelligent and enjoyable group of people to be a part of.”
“The past two days have been all about enhancing our skills through new experiences. I really felt my confidence improve and, overall, loved taking part in the residential.”
Kathryn Bridge, Project Lead in the Partnership Fund, said:
“This was a hugely successful two-day residential. The students were really impressive in terms of their perseverance and determination to succeed. Many of them are clear on the routes they wish to take in the future and have everything planned out, but the opportunity to come to Cambridge offered a real confidence boost. They worked together effectively on some challenging activities and I am very excited to see how their projects back in their own schools develop.”