Innovative engagement project creates bridges to higher education
3 November 2016
Cardiff University has partnered with St David's Catholic Sixth Form College to create a joint teaching post that transfers expertise from the University to the local college.
This exciting partnership has led to the development and delivery of sixth form courses in the social sciences while helping to train trainee teachers here in the School of Social Science, enabling the development of future academics in the field of social sciences from both the learning and teaching ends of the spectrum.
Since January 2016, several courses have been designed and implemented, all of which have been requested by St David’s to be delivered again next year. Many students of the college who have taken these courses are now enrolled at the University, with 74 students starting in September 2016. This figure has grown year-on-year since the developments between Cardiff University and St. David’s College started.
The courses currently underway include:
- Level 2 Social Analytics for Year 9 and 10 students from schools located in areas with high levels of socio-economic deprivation. The course gives students a practical introduction to the research process.
- Level 3 Social Analytics Level 3 Social Analytics for students enrolled on the College’s Honours Programme designed for more able and talented learners. The course covers aspects of research design and statistical analysis such as correlation and linear regression. Just over 90 Honours Programme learners benefited from this programme in 2015/16, enabling them to use quantitative skills within their Welsh Baccalaureate Individual Projects to attain the very highest grades.
- Drop-in sessions. These bespoke sessions cover the research and statistical elements of Geography, Psychology, Sociology, Biology, Business Studies and Economics A-Level syllabi.
This unique partnership was mostly funded by the college itself, but has had the chance to grow and continue to nurture the academic potential of students and teachers alike with additional funding from Cardiff University. St David’s has also committed additional funding for the continuation of the Teaching Associate post, currently held by Cara Jones, which involves helping to train trainee teachers here in the School of Social Sciences.
The Vice Principal of St David’s, Lisa Newman, commented on the impact of the additional funds: “Cara’s work with Year 9 and 10 learners has been extremely positive and I believe that this work will encourage more able and talented learners to study at Cardiff University in the future. Learners have the opportunity to develop skills they will need for ‘A’ Level study, particularly if they are thinking of studying social science- related courses.
Feedback from learners who have been involved in the Year 9 and 10 project has been extremely positive. Learners have gained confidence and in some cases, this work has helped them to make decisions about their future ‘AS/A’ level programme of study. Head teachers are keen for the programme to continue since they feel it raised learners’ aspirations regarding their future study and it has been highly beneficial in developing learners’ confidence with handling data.”
Future projects planned to emerge from this partnership between Cardiff University and St. David’s Catholic college include Welsh Baccalaureate student support, Welsh Baccalaureate teacher training and Level 2 Social Analytics for college students resitting their GCSEs.
With an additional injection of funding from St David's to keep the post going until July 2017, this engagement project will continue to provide additional teacher training support while increasing high quality student applications from St David’s and growing these bridging courses to higher education.
This engagement project was initiated by Rhys Jones, Lecturer in Quantitative Methods FE based in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, and a member of the Cardiff Q Step team.