The latest ‘graduates’ of an innovative initiative between the University of St Andrews and a Fife school have been rewarded for their hard work.
Launched in 2005, the project – Working Together To Improve – is thought to be the first of its kind in Scotland. The project aims to raise Kirkcaldy High School pupils’ aspirations to enter higher education on leaving school and guarantees S3 pupils direct entry to the University’s General degree, provided they meet the University’s admissions criteria.
The programme is targeted at the School’s top 14-15 year olds who are academically capable of coming to a university like St Andrews but who, for various reasons, may not normally have considered applying there.
One of the most effective ways of getting young people to engage in higher education is to give them the opportunity to interact with students. With this in mind, the University has employed students from relevant disciplines to act as 1:1 role models and mentors for the pupils.
Pupils chose the subject they wanted to work on and, with the support of their student mentor, completed a 3000 word report and delivered a Power point presentation to a panel comprising University staff and Kirkcaldy High School teachers as well as students and peers. Mentors and teachers provide support and advice but, ultimately, pupils are in control of the research, giving them an advance taste of the responsibility and freedom of university-style learning.
As well as being in regular email contact, pupils and their undergraduate mentors met monthly in St Andrews, allowing the pupils to become familiar with the University environment in a relaxed, informal way.
Of the 28 pupils involved this year Talha Syed was named winner for his project on ‘The Animal Kingdom’. The three runners up were Kevin Connolly (‘Revisiting D- Day’), Caitlin MacFarlane (‘The Rise and Rise of the Housefly’) and Erin MacGalloway (‘Ian Rankin’).
Organisers said: “The standard this year was exceptional and beyond what would be expected of pupils only in S3.”
Further information on the initiative is available from Mike Johnson, Education Liaison Officer, Office for Scottish Recruitment & Access, tel 01334 462279 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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