How can teachers find the most appropriate university events, talks and visits for school groups?
Guest Blogger: Sophie Craven, Schools and Colleges Liaison Service, The University of Huddersfield
Universities can offer you and your students a broad range of talks, visits and activities – but deciding on the most appropriate one for your target group isn’t always that straight forward when there’s so much to choose from. The most important thing is to take your time and research what’s on offer from a range of different universities. The best starting point is UniTasterDays or university websites for those not listing all their events on UniTasterDays, where the menu of activities offered to schools and colleges will be available.
The good news is that most universities (generally through education liaison or schools liaison teams) already segment their activities for schools in order to help you make sense of it, but many do this in different ways, so unfortunately there is no standard format. Typical ways of segmenting activity includes:
- Age range – Primary, Pre-16 and Post-16.
- Theme – generic HE preparation or subject specific.
- Target group – specific widening participation criteria may be applied so certain activities may only be available to specific groups of learners.
When searching UniTasterDays and university websites for suitable activities for your learners, do bear in mind the target audience and age-appropriateness of what’s on offer in order to find the best match. If in doubt, and before booking an activity, get in touch with the university and discuss your requirements. Make sure you highlight your intended learning outcomes and check if these match up or seem realistic. In some instances sessions can be adapted to create a bespoke activity specifically for your students, or the university may suggest alternative and more appropriate activities to meet your needs.
Here are some examples, in age order, of the types of activities on offer and who, in most instances, they are most appropriate for:
- Student ambassador Tutors and Mentors– Primary schools (usually Years 5 and 6)
- Residential summer schools – pre-16 learners, often targeted as specific groups to raise aspirations and attainment
- Higher Edudcation experience days – Pre and post-16 audiences
- Study skills workshops – particularly relevant for Year 11 and post-16 audiences
- Subject specific lectures – post-16 audiences
- Subject Taster Days – post-16 audiences
How to switch them on, not off
To make sure that your learners get the most from any HE activity, it is especially important to check that the activity you select is age-appropriate. Also, try to avoid duplication of activity. For example, if you are planning an activity for Year 10 students you should check in school what has proceeded this in Years 7, 8 and 9.
The most successful activities build on and consolidate those that have gone before. Try to engage with a range of different universities to bring different perspectives and to broaden learners’ horizons to a wider range of HE options. Planning activities which take place in a variety of different settings, including in school and on campus, will also help to broaden horizons.