13/09/2013, by CLAS

Widening participation in CLAS: summer schools and beyond

As the summer draws to a close and an autumnal chill hints at shorter days, a group of young people from all over the UK will be settling down to their final year of A level study with a renewed vigour and an eye on their future at a University.

These young people were lucky enough to spend a whole week experiencing life as a UoN student over the summer as part of either the Nottingham Potential or the Sutton Trust Summer schools. These Summer schools are coordinated and managed by the University’s Widening Participation team and offer a broad menu of lectures, seminars and leisure activities as well as information about topics related to university life such as finance and accommodation.

This year academic colleagues from CLAS offered lectures ranging from ‘Contemporary US Fiction’, The “Pink Tide” in Latin America’ to ‘The Vikings in Russia’ and ‘The Obama Presidency’.  I had the pleasure of attending some of these and enjoyed debating the comparative virtues of David Cameron and Barack Obama’s Facebook pages in ‘Digital Cultures: exploring the cultural impact of social networks’ delivered by Dr Eva Giraud, and revelling in the atmosphere created in Dr Jeremy Lane’s lecture on ‘Jazz in Paris Between the Wars:  Music, “Race”, and Négritude’.

Not only does this experience give the lucky participants a sneak peek into life and study at university, it also helps them to make some key decisions about their destinations post A levels. In 2012 CLAS achieved an 88% conversion rate (7 out of the 8 Summer School students who applied to UoN subsequently enrolled) so the impact of a week learning, living and experiencing our University certainly paid dividends.

Inevitably, engagement with our students of the future has to start earlier than the summer before UCAS applications if we are really going to ensure our student population has the diversity and aptitude UoN prides itself on. To this end we provide a range of Taster Days, workshops, schools visits and one-off events such as this year’s Festival of Languages and Culture which showcases CLAS throughout the month of November. We are also launching a primary Languages project and a collaboration with Nottingham Forest Football Club and Nottingham Trent University to encourage city pupils to learn French through playing the game of football.

Certainly the Summer Schools this summer were a great success. However, there is little time to relax and bask in this; the school year has begun and the challenge of Widening Participation across the broad reach of all our disciplines continues. So . . . onward.

Tara Webster-Deakin, CLAS widening participation and outreach officer

Posted in Outreach