UCL Saturday School expands Horizons of London teenagers

2 November 2010

For the next eight months starting on Saturday 6 November, 100 Year Ten students from 30 inner London state schools will be spending their Saturday mornings at UCL.

Learning to make films

The teenagers, most of whom come from families with no history of higher education and many of whom are from ethnic minorities, will take short courses in humanities and science subjects, learning to solve problems, work in teams and present their ideas. Term One includes modules in debating, archaeology, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and an introduction to medicine.

Many lessons are taught by UCL staff, and the teenagers are supported throughout the year by UCL student ambassadors who act as role models and mentors. This is second year the Saturday School has run following its launch in Autumn 2009.

The Saturday School is part of Horizons, an innovative pilot project run by UCL Outreach and funded by JPMorgan. Horizons aims to raise students’ achievement at GCSE and to expand their higher education and future career aspirations.

Dr Joe Cain of UCL Science and Technology Studies is a Horizons tutor. He said: “This programme brings to UCL young people who want to be taken seriously, who seek ways to apply their intelligence and creativity, and who are hungry for the opportunities UCL creates. It’s a recruiting opportunity for us. It’s a future wide open for them. Opportunity is a civic duty for us; and this is an opportunity lost should we choose to make it disappear.”

Besides Saturday School, Horizons offers many opportunities as students progress through GCSE. Last year’s Saturday School students participated in a Science and Debate Summer School in August 2010 and a Year 11 Careers Conference in September 2010, and are now signed up to an online e-mentoring scheme.

Since the launch of Horizons last year, staff have observed a massive impact on participants’ self confidence and their awareness of higher education and career pathways.

Comments from Year 10 participants in 2009-10:

“(Horizons) has encouraged me to go out there from now on and do things instead of thinking of myself as ‘too young’. I feel more motivated to study and it’s reminded me that I should always try hard and get the best out of the people I meet.”

“I have become more confident and this will help me in the future. I am surer about going to University and this has helped me think about the future and what I’m going to do.”

“I learnt that debating is a conversation where people get to speak and listen to each other whilst expressing their points of view, and that debating is not just about arguing but that it is also about reaching a conclusion.”

“I did not really like science before I came here, but now I have learnt that science is a wider subject and is really interesting.”

To find out more about Horizons and UCL Outreach, follow the links above or contact Alison Home on 020 7679 7762.

Image: Saturday School students learning to make films

UCL context

At UCL we offer an exciting and comprehensive programme of activities and assistance for schools and colleges. Our aim is to harness the knowledge and expertise established at UCL in order to provide a top service for under-represented groups in university education. We hope to broaden and inspire minds as well as to foster a genuine interest in university life and study.