United Access Learning Academies

United Access Learning Academies

Last Saturday, 4 November, 18 pupils from six United Learning academies across the country attended their first event of the academic year as part of United Access. United Access is the Group’s four-year university access scheme run in partnership with the Accelerate and Access Foundation (AAF).  It is hosted and run by Caterham School. The programme participants, who are currently in the Fourth Year, enjoyed a meet-up event at Caterham School last weekend along with their parents and carers.  The pupils had first met at the launch event in the summer.  This was an opportunity to reconnect in person with their individual mentors – who are current students from Oxford, Cambridge and Sussex Universities – and present on their summer projects…

Over the summer, pupils were asked to write a letter to their future selves, imagining the person they would want to be in four years’ time and what they would like to have achieved.  This follows on from initial work on developing their ambitions and future plans with their mentors, and will be handed back to them when they graduate from the programme in 2020 so they can see just how far they have come.

The cohort has also been conducting independent research chains – exploring a topic that they each have a particular interest in and using as many different media as possible to develop their understanding.  Pupils presented on their findings, which ranged from physiotherapy to forensic science, aviation to psychology, in front of a captive audience of their peers, parents and mentors during the meet-up day.

Following the pupils’ research presentations, parents got fully involved and provided useful feedback and encouragement – as well as asking a lot of questions! They also took part in a session on UCAS, the national university application process, led by Caterham staff. This covered the key role that parents can play alongside schools in supporting young people to access Higher Education, such as helping them apply for summer schools, looking into open days, finding the right work experience and meeting deadlines.

The university mentors were also on-hand during the day to catch up with parents, answer their questions and to discuss they can help with their children’s progress throughout the course of the programme.


One parent said of the event:

“The presentations were great! Seeing the children stand up and speaking with confidence about something they are passionate about was incredible.”


Another added:

“The UCAS presentation was very informative. It opened my eyes to something I had not previously considered. I also really enjoyed meeting the other parents and the mentors again.”

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