Pupils Urged to Aim Higher; INITIATIVE: Actors Help Inspire Youngsters to Consider Going on to University
Byline: TONY TRAINOR
PUPILS as young as 14 are being given a taste of higher education in an attempt to encourage more youngsters to consider going on to university.
The innovative Aiming Higher project at the University of Wales College, Newport, was developed to widen participation among students who might not have considered continuing education after leaving school.
Theatrical performances were used to inspire more than 180 school pupils, aged 14-15, who attended a specially commissioned play by professional theatre troupe CragRats.
Pupils took part in interactive workshops with the actors, exploring their opinions of higher education.
The students from Bettws, Duffryn, Hartridge, Lliswerry, Abersychan and Fairwater schools were also given a tour of the university's Caerleon campus.
Teresa Thomas, UWCN's schools officer, said, "Aiming Higher hopes to raise aspirations, motivation and awareness among young people, to challenge any preconceptions they might have about university life and to spread the message that higher education is open to everyone, not just a select few.
"The play and workshops developed by CragRats get this message across in a fun, enjoyable way, helping to break down the barriers with some students who may think university has nothing to offer them."
UWCN was awarded an allocation of pounds 60,000 over two years from the Higher Education Funding Council of Wales to forge closer links with schools in an attempt to widen access to higher education.
The Aiming Higher programme was developed specifically to encourage young people from lower socioeconomic groups to raise their aspirations by considering going on to university.
Through discussions with the directors of education at Newport and Torfaen County Borough Councils, six Gwent schools were identified for involvement in the programme, beginning in Year 10 and continuing through years 11, 12 and 13.
This year's sixth-formers were also invited to participate in activities designed to raise awareness of student life. Around 30 pupils in Year 10 of each school were introduced to the Aiming Higher programme last year and are continuing in Year 11.
These have included campus visits and evaluation exercises.
Teachers said they felt the programme to be worthwhile and agreed to participate the following year.
Ms Thomas said the students felt they had learnt more about what to expect from university life and would be better prepared to go on to higher education. …