A very special graduation took place on Friday thanks to the partnership between the University of Warwick and national education charity, IntoUniversity.
The graduation ceremony, for Y6 pupils from Frederick Bird School in Coventry, marked the end of FOCUS week, a five-day programme designed to introduce the youngsters to university-style learning and give them a taste of what higher education is all about.
Working in teams, the youngsters spent a week studying democracy and human rights. On Friday they enjoyed a tour of Warwick’s campus, with the chance to quiz current undergraduates about their lives here, and then gave four lively presentations about what they had learned to an audience of siblings, parents, teachers and members of the University’s Widening Participation and Outreach teams.
Paul Blagburn, Head of Widening Participation at Warwick, presented each student with their graduation certificate.
Ten year old Labiba’s ambition is to become a paediatric nurse. She said “This week has been very good fun. We learned about university and human rights and met the student ambassadors. Other people should definitely do this.”
The visit to the university campus is an important element of the week. Frederick Bird School teacher Aideen Kavanagh said: “It’s a great chance for the children to learn about university and the different courses available. It’s also nice for them to know that an amazing university is on their doorstep – they don’t have to go a long way from home to get a good degree.”
The event also marked the first anniversary of the partnership between IntoUniversity and the University of Warwick. The IntoUniversity Coventry centre is based in the Hillfields area of the city and run by IntoUniversity in partnership with the University, with philanthropic support from Warwick alumni and The Michael Marsh Charitable Trust.
Centre Manager Rebecca Ward said: “We know from research that it is never too early to introduce young learners to the idea of university. FOCUS week is one of the most intense parts of the work we do with primary school pupils. They learn about one topic in depth, as you would at university, and present their findings to their peers. They even prepare an academic-style poster to show what they have discovered.
“Being based in Hillfields we’re in the heart of the community – we hope to be the bridge between the community and the university, encouraging young people to aspire to university and giving them the support they need to achieve a place.”
Warwick Law student Sofia Dadou was also present to congratulate the youngsters on their graduation. Sofia attended an IntoUniversity centre near her home in London and says it really helped her to achieve her academic goals: “I started working with IntoUniversity when I was in 6th form. They encouraged me to consider university and helped me start the journey to my law course. Without IntoUniversity I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities.” She hopes to lend her support to the Coventry centre as a mentor.
Reflecting on the day, Paul Blagburn said “It was inspiring to listen to the young students share what they had learned over the week - they presented their pieces with great energy and enthusiasm. I was delighted to be able to take part in the graduation and celebrate the successes of our partnership with IntoUniversity Coventry – they’re doing amazing work and helping us connect with talented young people in our own home city.”
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University of Warwick
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