The third year of an innovative project between the University of St Andrews and a Fife High School was launched at a special event this week.
The ‘Working together to improve’ project, between the University and Kirkcaldy High School, was launched in 2004 and aims to raise University aspirations among school pupils.
The programme is targeted at the School’s top 14-15 year olds who are academically capable of studying at St Andrews but who, for various reasons, might not have considered applying to study for a degree. Over the course of an academic year S3 pupils from Kirkcaldy are given the opportunity to work on a project of their own choice with a student mentor from St Andrews. Twenty- eight pupils successfully completed last year’s programme and a further twenty-six have been selected this year.
One of the most effective ways of engaging young people 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 one-to-one role models and mentors for the pupils. As well as being in regular email contact, pupils and their undergraduate mentors meet monthly in St Andrews, allowing the pupils to become familiar with the University environment in a relaxed, informal way.
The University’s Education Liaison Officer Mike Johnson said, “This is a project that makes a real difference and all of us who are involved benefit greatly from it.”
During the course of the programme, pupils with the support of their student mentor – complete a 3000-word report and deliver a Power point presentation to a panel comprising University staff, student mentors, school teachers and fellow pupils. 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.
Kirkcaldy High School Head Teacher Gwen Kinghorn said, “I am absolutely delighted that our pupils will benefit from the unique opportunities that this collaborative project provides. The project introduces the pupils to the University of St Andrews and allows access to all of their resources and facilities. The project shows pupils the advantages and relevance of going to university and that this goal is achievable. Last session’s pupils all produced work of a very high written and ICT standard. I am confident that this session will be no different.”
Selected pupils and their parents attended the launch event at the school earlier this week, at which University Principal Dr Brian Lang, School Head Gwen Kinghorn, a representative of the student mentors and last year’s winner addressed the audience. Further information on the initiative is available from Mike Johnson on 01334 462279 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. ENDS
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