Securing a place at university or contemplating next steps after leaving school can be daunting for teenagers.
But for students at Space Studio West London (SSWL), thinking about the future has been made easier following a partnership with Royal Holloway University.
The prestigious university, which is part of the acclaimed Russell Group, has provided a resident Widening Access Officer to be based at the STEM-focused school one day a week.
The aim of Ebony Beckford’s role is to highlight opportunities that lie ahead for students at SSWL and that university is an option for them.
Keen to prove university is not just about academia, Ms Beckford recently arranged for the university’s American Football team to pay a visit to the school and talk about life at Royal Holloway. Students were also then invited to watch the Royal Holloway Bears at their home ground and participate in a training session.
Steph Lee, careers lead at SSWL, said the visit from the Bears proved to be a highlight of the autumn term and also inspiring for students. She told the Hounslow Herald: “It broadened the horizons of our students in a fun and engaging way. It showed them that university is not just about studying, sport plays a big role and ensures students are given well-rounded experiences if they choose to go on to further education.
“Sport is important at SSWL too as it’s not just about physical activity but also about teamwork and leadership.”
Space Studio West London currently has places available in Years 10 and 12, September 2023 start. To find out more about the school, which specialises in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, come along to an open evening on Monday January 9th, 5.30pm start. To find out more, please email: email@example.com or visit the website: spacestudiowestlondon.org
Ms Beckford’s door is open for all students at SSWL to pop in and ask for support or answers to questions about their options when the time comes for them to leave the school.
Royal Holloway, which is based in nearby Egham, Surrey, is committed to helping students in Feltham understand the opportunities that lie ahead for them and that university is an option they should consider.
Explains Ms Beckford: ‘‘I am part of the Widening Access team at Royal Holloway and I am one of four officers and the only one to be based at Space Studio West London. Feltham itself is close to Royal Holloway and we know statistically there is a low progression rate of students and residents in this area going into higher education. Royal Holloway felt there is a responsibility to be able to work with the Feltham community and help them to make those decisions about university life and give them the confidence to know that university is a place where they belong if they want to go. I’m here to talk to students about personal statements if they consider applying to university and give them advice on options. I can also give them advice on funding which is available for students. There is still a stigma that university is for rich people and that is not the case.’’
Under the partnership with Royal Holloway, Year 12 students at Space Studio have embarked on a two year programme which aims to give them a genuine taste of university. Royal Holloway Link aims to give students an insight into a chosen subject area and advice and guidance on the application process to higher education.
Ms Beckford said: ‘‘It’s about being able to support students with guidance and providing them with an opportunity to come and interact with academics and professors and get that university experience. Over this two year period, students will be able to attend masterclasses, have access to mentors and make campus visits. The aim is to help students at Space Studio realise the value of going to university. It is not about converting them or convincing them but helping them to realise why it is an option [they should consider].’’
Space Studio West London is home to 300 students aged between 14 to 18-year-olds and class sizes are kept to no more than 25 pupils.
There is an emphasis on one-to-one learning and a teaching model that aims to nurture the engineers, scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and aerospace experts of the future.
Annual school trips include a 10-day US visit to NASA and the itinerary involves behind-the-scenes visits to Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers. Students also have the chance to liaise with scientists and engineers.
Space Studio has close links with employers in the aerospace, science and technology sectors providing plenty of opportunities for students to secure valuable work experience. Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, British Airways, BP, Heathrow, the National Space Academy and National Physical Laboratories are just some of the businesses the school works with.
Principal Andy Morgan said: ‘‘Space Studio is a calm, safe and productive learning environment where pupils work collaboratively with each other, their teachers and industry mentors. Expectations are high. Opportunities for project-based learning with industry professionals, and work placement are numerous.’’