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Summer schools help young people prepare for university

(14 August 2018)

Supported Progression students watch an experiment in a Durham University Chemistry lab

Over 300 young people have taken part in Durham University summer schools aimed at helping them reach their full potential.

Each has participated in one of two six-day residential summer schools aimed at helping talented young people from the North East of England, Yorkshire and Cumbria who have the potential to study at a university like Durham.

During the Supported Progression summer schools, which ran from Sunday 29 July to Friday 3 August and Sunday 5 August to Friday 10 August, the young people, all of whom are about to enter school year 13, experienced university-style teaching and learning and living in a Durham University college.

In addition, a further 300 young people are expected to attend Durham University Sutton Trust summer schools over the next two weeks.

Supported Progression

The University’s Supported Progression scheme is a programme which young people undertake over the two years prior to starting university.

The programme begins with a one-day welcome event for the young people and their parents and carers, during which the young people explore academic study skills, are introduced to Durham’s collegiate system and meet their programme mentors, and the parents and carers learn about the university application process and student finance.

This is followed by a three-day residential school at the University in the spring, where the young people get a one-day introduction to the academic rigour of university life.

They are also offered skills-based workshops, covering topics including: the university application process, how to write an effective personal statement and how to manage personal finances.

Finally, the summer schools see the young people undertake a project in the academic department of their choice and sample popular student social activities, including sports, societies and a formal dinner.

If the young person completes the scheme and their academic project successfully, they achieve a qualification equivalent to 16 to 32 UCAS tariff points and a guaranteed, conditional offer, should they choose to apply to study at Durham University.

‘A great success’

Since Durham University founded the Supported Progression scheme over 1,500 young people have participated, of which over 500 have progressed to undergraduate study at Durham.

Professor Alan Houston, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) at Durham University, said: “The Durham University Supported Progression scheme is one of a number of programmes designed to ensure that Durham is welcoming and accessible to students from all backgrounds.

“This year’s summer schools have been a great success. We wish all the young people well with their university applications, wherever they choose to apply to.”

‘Fun, interesting, exciting’

Biranavaan Navaneethamdan, 17, of Heaton Manor School, Newcastle, took part in Supported Progression and is considering applying to Durham University to study engineering.

He said: “I’ve been experimenting with wind turbines. It’s been really fun and enjoyable.”

Becky Wignall, 17, of Whitehaven, Cumbria, who studies at Keswick School, took part in Supported Progression and is considering applying to Durham University to study engineering.

She said: “It seemed like a really good opportunity. It’s really interesting and exciting to try new things. I’ve got to know more about engineering.”

Adam Charlton, 16, of Stanley, County Durham, who studies at St Bede’s Catholic School and Sixth Form College, Lanchester, took part in Supported Progression and hopes to study engineering at Durham University. 

He said: “I’ve always wanted to go to university and Durham’s the best choice for me.”

Hannah Marshall, 17, of St Anthony’s Academy, Sunderland, took part in Supported Progression and is considering applying to Durham University to study engineering.

She said: “It’s shown me that Durham is not as scary as I thought it was going to be.”

‘An invaluable opportunity’

Martin Screen participated in the Supported Progression scheme while at Wolsingham School, County Durham, and is now studying chemistry at Durham University.

He said: “Supported Progression gave me an invaluable opportunity not only to receive a guaranteed offer for Durham University, but to grow in confidence within the chemistry teaching laboratories before even beginning my degree, which allowed me to excel in skill and confidence during the practical courses in a familiar environment.

“This boost in confidence allowed me to approach my first year in a very different way, and by the end of the summer I will have completed two research internships within the Department. These have proved very successful so far and I would not have been part of this if not for Supported Progression.”