For many years, as part of our Extended Schools provision, students in Key Stage 3 have been offered the opportunity to participate in the University of the First Age ‘Summer Challenge’.
The UFA is a national education charity which is committed to working in innovative and creative ways with Local Authorities, schools, organisations, communities and individuals to enrich and extend learning for young people aged 5 to 25. Their aim is to create an 'open' university for young people, so that they can access a range of challenging learning opportunities in and beyond their school. Being part of a 'university' in early life helps to raise aspirations, increases the likelihood of young people going on to Further and Higher Education and develops skills that will help them succeed in their future lives and employment.
The most recent ‘Summer Challenge’, organised in conjunction with Kirklees Council’s Extended Learning service and the University of Huddersfield, saw 17 of our students enrol on the two separate week-long summer schools held at the University at the beginning of the holidays in July and August. Raising young people's aspirations and achievements by improving confidence and self-belief through exciting and memorable educational experiences is at the heart of what they do. I attended the celebration event held on the Friday afternoon of the first week of the holidays and, according to what I encountered there, these objectives were fully met - more than 200 students drawn from schools from across the Local Authority generated a very vibrant atmosphere. On-site workshops in, for example, photography and sculpture, led by professionals, and off-site activities, such as mountain biking or canoeing, forge many new friendships which cross the divide between schools.
I was impressed to see not only the 17 participants in the scheme from our school but also some of our older students acting as peer mentors or even as staff; young people are supported through the UFA to become role models and leaders who develop and lead learning opportunities for others in their communities. 12 students from HGS, clearly inspired by their earlier experiences in the scheme, attended the UFA peer mentoring course and qualified with a Level One Sports Leaders qualification and a UFA Leaders in Learning certificate.