Year 10 students identified as having the potential to thrive at university attended a residential at Woldingham last week, as part of the United Access programme.
United Access is run by United Learning in partnership with Accelerate and Access Foundation (AAF), Woldingham School and Caterham School for young people with clear academic potential but who would be the first generation in their family to go to university. The four-year programme follows students from the beginning of Year 9 through their university application process.
The ‘leadership’ themed week of skills development workshops, lectures and confidence building exercises had the aim of equipping students with the skills to become university ambassadors back in their own schools.
During the week, students explored ideas of leadership through classes prepared and delivered by Woldingham teachers on philosophy, politics, music, media, sports and maths. These deeper subject knowledge classes were interspersed with public speaking sessions, film night and a range of sports with Woldingham pupils. There were also specific sessions focused on university access; one afternoon, Target Oxbridge staff ran an interactive session and university panel for the students. Another guest lecturer was Lieutenant David Boyles from the Ministry of Defence who explored different leadership styles with the group through a series of command task activities. The residential also included a university visit to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and a talk from the College Outreach Officer about the educational experience they could expect there and what makes a strong candidate.
On Friday, students each presented on what they had learnt, including what leadership meant to them, and their favourite activities of the week. They also outlined the project they plan to undertake back at school before the next residential – this included starting a housing system and delivering assemblies to younger year groups. Teachers from the schools involved in the programme attended to watch the presentations.
Martina Montecchiarini, Project Lead for United Access at United Learning, said: 'With this residential, we wanted to give students the chance to challenge themselves, deepen their subject knowledge and develop their own leadership styles. Despite being an intensive week, with a very full timetable, we were impressed by students’ continued enthusiasm, engagement and creativity. We are very grateful for the support of all our programme partners and excellent guest speakers, but in particular for the wonderful welcome we received from our hosts at Woldingham School.'
Woldingham’s Senior Deputy Head, Margaret Giblin, said: 'We were delighted to host the summer residential at Woldingham. The students made a wonderful impression on our staff with their commitment to the range of activities and their willingness to tackle new concepts. Woldingham is an outward facing school and our partnership in the United Access programme rests neatly with our educational philosophy, where intellectual value, personal growth and a sense of community are at the very core. The balance of intellectual pursuit with holistic development is essential for young people in education today. We look forward to welcoming the students back next year.'