A month in the life of a Widening Access team…

…with Reaching Wider and Step Up to Swansea University

Alice Davies
Partnership Manager
South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership

June is often a busy month for Widening Access teams and this is certainly true of the Reaching Wider team at the University.

Over the course of June we ran a huge variety of events delivering 2,132 hours of engagement to 650 participants and 624 hours of employment and training to Swansea University students.  Here’s a snapshot of the engagements that have happened throughout the month of June.

Primary schools (Years 5 and 6)

Our primary school interventions are designed to deliver a positive introduction to Higher Education, provide positive learning experiences in different subjects,  and support pupils to discover new skills and build on existing ones especially literacy and numeracy. Through June, we ran an after school STEM club giving Year 5 pupils hands on experience of running their own science experiments and we’ve delivered a boys’ reading club to encourage boys to read more.  We’ve also brought hundreds of pupils onto campus to explore the University and interview students and we’ve sent subject workshops into schools from castles to maggots!

Secondary schools 11- 16

Our secondary school interventions are designed to introduce pupils to the benefits of progressing to Higher Education.  We provide opportunities for pupils to explore and develop their academic and employment aspirations, broaden their subject knowledge and develop their academic skills.

In June, we ran the Megamaths intra-school competition with our highest ever attendee rate of over 140 pupils, subject taster workshops, a confidence and well-being programme for girls, an engineering day in partnership with Tata Steel and campus visits for Year 9 pupils.

School pupils in a power pose

Photo – Tweet from winning school from Megamaths event.

Care experienced young people

We run activities for care experienced young people throughout the year and June is no different.  The term “care experienced” refers to anyone who has been, or is currently in care. This care may have been provided in many different settings, such as foster care or residential care.  In June we brought a group of care experienced children from primary schools across Swansea onto campus to take part in a range of different subject themed activities.   We have developed our after school club by working with The Roots Foundation Wales to bring young people onto campus once a week to take part in different activities whilst also providing peer support to each other.

Year 12 and FE College students

Our post 16 interventions are designed to help students make informed choices that align with their personal interests and career aspirations and also aim to support students to make successful applications and transitions to university.  During the month of June, we ran a Year 12 conference offering students taster sessions in a huge range of subjects whilst supporting them to develop academic skills.  We also ran a Paramedic Science Taster day and took a group of 6th form students out on the new research boat to discover marine biology through the medium of Welsh.   Support was also offered through a UCAS and Finance day which provided students on guidance on how to make successful University applications and information on funding available.

Without supportive colleges across academic colleges and professional services this work would not be possible.  From the catering staff that make the students welcome when serving them lunch, to the inspiring lecturers who help students see a subject in a new light, to the professional services colleagues who help demystify student finance and UCAS. Everyone has a part to play in making a Higher Education accessible to all.

June has been busy and July is set to be just as busy with residential programmes designed to provide a taste of student life happening on both Bay and Singleton campuses alongside campus visits and parents’ workshops.  If you’d like to find out more or work with Reaching Wider please contact reachingwider@swansea.ac.uk

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