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Working together again

An innovative project between the University of St Andrews and a Fife High School will run for the second time after a successful pilot run last year.

The ‘Working Together to Improve’ programme, a collaboration with Kirkcaldy High School, is thought to be the first programme of its kind in Scotland. Aiming to raise the aspirations of 14-15 year olds to enter higher education on leaving school, it guarantees direct entry to the University’s General degree, provided applicants meet the admissions criteria.

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-six pupils successfully completed last year’s programme and a further twenty-eight 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 Access Development Officer Sarah Morrison said, “We are very pleased to be working with Kirkcaldy High School on this exciting project again. We had some concerns about whether we were asking too much from relatively young pupils last year, but the reports they produced showed they were more than up to the challenge.”

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 will attend the launch event at the school tonight (Tuesday 13th September). During the event, University Principal Dr Brian Lang and School Head Gwen Kinghorn, as well as last year’s successful participants will speak.

Further information on the initiative is available from Sarah Morrison on 01334 462279 or email smm21@st- andrews.ac.uk.

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- andrews.ac.uk Ref: working together launch 2005 130905.doc View the latest University press releases at http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk

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