60 new researchers from the Nicholas Chamberlaine School in Bedworth were enrolled at the University yesterday. The pupils are part of a pioneering school based research programme aiming to make learning available to those who ordinarily would not go into higher education.
The pupils, aged between 11 and 16, spent the morning on campus, and were given a tour of the University as well as an introduction to the research. A number of activities, including planning the 'ideal lesson' introduced the children to the topics they would be studying.
The joint pilot project is part of Warwick's programme of fun and educational activities to introduce pupils in years 7-10 to the idea of higher education, and increase awareness of what university life has to offer. Nicholas Chamberlaine has a very low rate of entrants into higher education and this is one of a number of initiatives to encourage young people to consider a University career.
Dr Wendy Robinson, from the Institute of Education at Warwick, described the event as extremely successful: 'The children were very impressed with the facilities, by the environment and by the welcome they had.'
The pupils enjoyed their tour of the campus and some were reappraising their ideas about University. Year 7 pupil Chelsea Gilsenan said "I thought the university would be smaller and I didn't think that there would be shops and a hairdressers. - She added, 'Now it's made me think about going to university."
The pupils were also full of enthusiasm for the learning project, year 7 pupil Andrew Sear said, "I am really looking forward to the next 6 months." Michelle Randell, also year 7, could see immediate implications for the way she planned her homework.
The older pupils also had plenty to say. Kevin Louth, Year 13, said, "Warwick University is pretty impressive and the day has been very rewarding. We will be finding out about what works best for us and how we can apply that learning to the whole school."
The programme, run by the University's Institute of Education, aims to make learning accessible to those who ordinarily would not consider higher education. Lesley King, Head Teacher at the School, said, "The impact of a project like this on the Rugby area and on Warwickshire as a whole will be immense."
"Warwick has a leading role in a pioneering community initiative. Introducing the pupils to the adult world of university life has been a wonderful experience. The programme has been all about getting the children to look ahead to where they want to be in future years."
Senior teachers were keen to stress the importance of integrating the programme with other initiatives; they explained that this is one of a whole range of partnership activities. "Partnership is definitely the key word and that the work will go full circle with primary schools, parents and teachers getting involved."
The teachers, pupils and accompanying parents will be back next year to hold a learning parliament.
Deputy Head Teacher, Graham Tyrer added that the enrolment had been a "stunning success, the pupils and staff had been bowled over by the University. The day has raised the aspirations of the pupils and they are full of enthusiasm for learning."
More information about educational studies and research is available from the Institute of Education.