As the school year was drawing to a close, seven of our students in Year 10 (selected at random by a team at the University of Leeds) got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a three-day residential at Leeds Beckett University, as part of Go Higher West Yorkshire’s ‘Class of 2024’ Summer School!

The idea behind the summer school was to give students an opportunity to experience the life of a university student over three days, with the end goal being to see if this affected students’ perceptions of higher education and their aspirations for the future. This all formed part of a randomised control trial (RCT) by the University of Leeds, who are planning to use the information to show whether these sort of activities have any impact on students and their career choices!

On a scorching Tuesday morning, our students arrived at TRGA with their suitcases and casual attire, slightly apprehensive but looking forward to what was a brand-new experience for every student involved! To start proceedings, the students (accompanied by Mr. Webb) made their way by minibus to Leeds Beckett University where they were to be staying in university halls of residence for the next two nights. Many of the students were shocked by the comfort and size of the rooms, with one student surprised that student accommodation could actually be so clean and homely!

The first day of the residential involved our students taking part in a variety of activities at the stunning Leeds City College Printworks campus, where we were treated to a tour of the campus, a UCAS fair featuring staff from local colleges and universities, a talk on higher an d degree apprenticeships and a question and answer session with current university students from across West Yorkshire. After getting back to the accommodation and a swift change of clothes, our students then made their way by coach to the Leeds Trinity University campus in Horsforth, where they got the chance to take part in a variety of sporting and leisure activities before heading back to the accommodation for a well-earned night’s rest!

Our second day started in typical university accommodation fashion, with a 7am fire alarm! After this rude awakening, our students grabbed a q

uick breakfast and were then whisked away to the University of Bradford, where they took part in a student finance talk and a variety of subject tasters in curriculum areas of their choice, including Photography, Engineering, Pharmacy, Scriptwriting, Visual Effects, Robotics, Law,  

Politics, Teaching and Journalism! The subject tasters were fantastic and really gave the students (and staff!) a chance to see what it would be like to study these subjects at a higher level! After an inspiring day of learning more about higher education, our students then made their way back to the accommodation and got ready for a night out in Leeds at the Red Hot Buffet and Hollywood Bowl

it was a great opportunity to unwind after a busy couple of days and our students really made it count, enjoying mountains of food and a chance to relax and chat more informally with each other and the university student ambassadors accompanying the trip.

After a good night’s sleep (thankfully with no fire alarms, this time!), our students were ready to tackle the final day of the residential, which involved a higher education enterprise challenge, run by the Inspirational Learning Group. The challenge, entitled ‘My Perfect University’, required students to work together to come up with a brand-new concept for a university, including the branding, marketing, design and a 30-second YouTube clip to advertise their idea. Despite a slow start, our students quickly got stuck into the challenge and set about creating their pitch for a food-themed university located on board a boat, a unique idea that led to them being selected as one of the six finalists for the afternoon session! After delivering a nerveless presentation in front of an audience of students, staff, parents and external judges, our students had to sit back and wait to find out if they had won the overall prize – unfortunately, we were not selected as overall winners but all of the staff and student ambassadors praised our students for their creativity and positive collaborative work on the project, a perfect reflection of our students’ general conduct throughout the residential, as they represented themselves and the school with pride, confidence and impeccable manners.

After the culmination of the enterprise challenge, all that was left to do was for our students to receive their ‘graduation’ certificates and bid farewell to the staff, students and ambassadors they had met over the previous three days. Overall, the residential was an amazing experience for all of the students and staff involved and has already led to a number of the students who took part taking a greater interest in higher education as a possible future pathway. Thanks to our involvement in the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP), we are hoping to take another set of Year 10 students on the residential next year and give more students at TRGA the opportunity to find out about what life as a university student is really like and if it is the right pathway for them in the future!