Families Open Day
In this section we share the story of one of the activities that took place within the EPEE project. We hope this and our other case studies may provide inspiration for types of projects that can take place.
Families Open Day
One of the areas we were keen to address is the sharing of accurate information and guidance about progression and routes into University, the associated costs including loans and grants, University accommodation, graduate opportunities and general University life with pupils and their families. In a scoping meeting with a new school partner (Cranbrook Campus) the head teacher felt that while visits to university by pupils were invaluable but could be improved through:
- Earlier intervention – attitudes to university and desire to attend may have been established in a pupil’s mind by the time they were eligible to attend open days
- Support for families and carers - visits generated huge excitement in the pupils and gave them the idea to attend university, however they get home and parents are not so excited
- More flexible scheduling - holding them during the week/at weekends excludes some parents – those who work, those who have caring responsibilities
- Targeted information - a need to mediate against some university myths and misconceptions.
As a way to mediate this we decided to pilot a Families Open Day, on a Saturday morning, inviting whole families and including alterative activities for younger siblings. We arranged a two hour event, coinciding with a children’s literature festival held at the University.
The event was open to all year 7 and year 8 pupils at the school, along with their families. On the day we had 23 people – 6 secondary school children, 10 parents and 7 younger siblings. Beginning with refreshments, we then moved into the seminar room, and two friendly and knowledgeable student ambassadors led an Interactive session on “What university is like” – dispelling some myths along the way.
Key topics such as financing your time at university, the requirements for entry into university and what lectures are like were discussed. There was also time for questions throughout. Meanwhile, siblings were being ably looked after, either by student ambassadors at the back of the seminar room, or in some cases one of a parent pair had taken the younger sibling to explore the Extreme Imagination events (stories and face-painting).
The visit concluded with a tour of the campus, looking at the library and ICT facilities, the sports centre, the students’ guild and some lecture theatres/seminar rooms.
Although the number of pupils from the school was lower than expected (we had wanted between 10-15 pupils) the small numbers meant the experience was more personal. The material shared in the “Why University” interactive presentation was something that had already been used by the Outreach team, and the younger audience interacted well with it. In feedback one pupil noted that student ambassadors had “put so much effort into it”. A parent reflected that the even was “Interesting and engaging”, another said it was pitched “at the correct level for years 7 and 8”.
Pupils were asked “what are you thinking about the possibility of going to university” at the end of the event. Four out of the six said they would probably consider going. One said they are not sure if they would go. When parents were asked “what are you thinking about the possibility of your child going to university” four parents replied they would like their child to go/consider going to university. However, four added that they were concerned about cost.
In terms of the overall success of the event, parents were asked to rate whether they felt the event was successful and whether they would recommend it to a friend. The overwhelming majority selected agree or strongly agree, indicating high levels of satisfaction.
The following video provides an overview of the aims and activities that took place as part of the Families Open Day, including interviews with some of the young people involved.