Monthly Archives: November 2012

Primary School Scheme starts after Christmas!

By Shona McIntosh, WP Projects Officer

One of the projects I’m most excited about this year is our Primary School Partnership scheme. This is a revamped version of the tutoring we’ve offered to primary schools for several years now. We’ll continue to send students into local classes to help raise attainment, but we’re now going to be focussing on Year 6 Maths classes, and I have added in an HE-awareness session in the classroom, and a campus visit for the whole class after the dreaded SATs. I have even promised to write a lecture on Harry Potter, in the style of the kind of lectures I used to give about Shakespeare, to give the pupils a taste of student life!

I’ve been going out to visit school teachers to discuss this programme, and it is a real joy going into primary schools. Firstly, because you get to sit on tiny chairs and feel like a giant (I’m 5 foot 2, so opportunities for me to feel tall are few and far between)! And secondly because it is lovely to see how passionate the teachers are about educating their pupils and to see the classrooms covered in the evidence of the children’s work and achievements. These are schools that are working in inner-city boroughs in very deprived areas – on average, the schools we are working with have at least 50% of their children on Free School Meals. But the teachers aren’t letting that get in the way of providing the most inspiring and supportive experience they can for their children.

One problem a couple of schools have mentioned is that many of their female pupils struggle with maths more than their male peers. This has surprised me because a lot of conversation around WP recently has focussed on the problem of boys’ lower attainment and progression. The tutoring shceme can help though, as we can place female ambassadors in the classroom to show the girls not only that maths is fun at school,but even that they might go on to study a maths-based subject later in their education. It just goes to show that national trends can be bucked by local particularities. In other words, listen to your community when you’re designing outreach activities!

I have immensely enjoyed my visits to local schools in Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Islington, and Camden. The teachers have been unfailingly supportive and energised about the idea of using undergraduates to help in the classroom. I think it’s going to be a great learning experience for our student tutors, and I hope to get a blog or two from them once they get into the classrooms at the end of January! Watch this space!

Transforming the community (literally)!

By Taric Matticks, 2nd Year Informatics

The team, proud of their hard work

The team after finishing

London Student Volunteering fortnight is an annual event that was created in 2008 by a set of London universities. Every year they join forces to provide a diverse set of opportunities for students from to get involved in across London. This year City University London took a prominent role in organising two of the events, and I had the privilege of volunteering at one of them: tidying up and enhancing the outdoor space at Islington Arts Factory.

Islington Arts Factory is a community arts centre based in Holloway. They are a registered charity which provides high quality classes, courses, and workshops for children and adults in the areas of dance, visual art and music, and regularly host performances and exhibitions to showcase the talents of their students.

The arts centre needed some assistance in renovating an overgrown outdoor area which had fallen into a state of neglect. Our task was to make it presentable so it could be used by the community once again. I had never really done any work of this nature before so for me personally it was a good experience to try it out. One of the things I like about volunteering is it gives you the opportunity to try out new things that you normally wouldn’t do and takes you out of your comfort zone. I was certainly out of my comfort zone then, but I didn’t let this phase me and got stuck in to activities such as sweeping the churchyard and patio, pulling up weeds, picking up litter, pruning bushes and overgrowth, moving soil and compost, cleaning the garden furniture, raking up the leaves and planting bulbs. It even started raining at one point but we didn’t let that stop us.

Volunteering

Hard at work!

I felt like Nick Knowles on an episode of DIY SOS thinking back to how the area looked before, and looking at it afterwards. Amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at this event and left feeling empowered, galvanised and wanting more. The sense of achievement I feel after volunteering and making a tangible difference to the community is priceless. I also got the opportunity to meet new people and make friends and am looking forward to participating in more events in the future.

LSVF finishes on the 10th of November so there’s still time to get involved. For info on the two remaining events click here.

Taric’s personal blog can be found here. If you’re a City student and want to get involved in volunteering check out our volunteering website.