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'Choc' it out: Y10 Taster Week at Hallam

Following a successful pilot in 2018, the chocolate-themed taster week 'Spring Up' ran again in April 2019.

What is Spring Up? 

Run by the Widening Participation and Outreach Team at Sheffield Hallam University, in partnership with HeppSY (Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire), the 4 day taster week welcomed students from 16 schools in the local region. 

The chocolate-themed week of fun activities was designed to raise awareness and aspirations about HE and university life; developing key lifelong skills such as teamwork, confidence, communication, social and presentation skills. These skills remained a key focus throughout the week, due to their importance in school, further education and the progression into work or further study.  

Mirroring the pilot year, in 2019 Spring up had fantastic attendance throughout the programme, with 70 students attending all 4 days. 

The programme consisted of taster lectures and workshops covering an introduction to HE, student life and societies, subject taster classes, presentation training, inspirational guest speakers and a presentation and enterprise challenge.  Students were also given a chance to solidify friendships with students from other schools and with a university-style social event involving a meal at Pizza Express and watching the latest DC blockbuster film Shazam!, before finishing the week with a graduation ceremony. 

A number of students had never socialised in the city before or been to the cinema without a parent present - life experiences like this add value and benefit to attending the programme and help to develop key life skills.  We also welcomed a more than 50 parents, carers and guardians to celebrate the students' achievements with us and benefit from a dedicated information session designed to inform and de-mystify higher education and university. 

Who attended Spring Up?

Each of the Y10 students attending Spring Up came from HeppSY target schools.  

HeppSY is part of a national programme funded by the Office for Students, to support young people most at risk of missing out on higher education.  45 wards in the Sheffield City Region were identified as having a lower progression to higher education than expected, based on GCSE attainment. 

Schools were asked to identify students who were unsure of their future ambitions, but also those who had the potential to go to university and would benefit from the programme of activities.  

What did students think about Spring Up? 

The programme was designed to equip students with real practical experience and insight into university life, give tasters of university subjects and create opportunities to develop soft skills such as teamwork, communication and confidence by interacting and working with likeminded students from around the Sheffield City Region.  Students were surveyed at the beginning and end of the week, with responses compared to understand their progression of thought. 

When reflecting on their skills and abilities, students felt these improved after Spring Up, and more students agreed/strongly agreed with statements in relation to their confidence in meeting new people (+ 14 % points), coping with change or new environments (+ 25 % points) and communicating their ideas (+ 33 % points).  

Students who were eligible for the programme are part of a cohort involved with HeppSY co-ordinated repeat interventions.  Most students had therefore experienced activity with Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Sheffield or HeppSY; with over 49% of these students having multiple interventions with all partners.  Aspirations were therefore largely positive prior to Spring Up, however across all areas (HE knowledge, progression and careers and skills), responses were improved at the end of the programme with students feeling more equipped, confident and positive about themselves and their future.  All students reported that they enjoyed the week and found it fun, interesting, informative and engaging amongst many other positive comments .

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