Our Durham Foundation Centre is unique as it welcomes students from different backgrounds. A lot of our students are mature students who are coming back to education. If you are coming back to academia to learn more about the subject or to gain new qualifications, the Foundation centre is there to help and provide all necessary support along the way. In order to publicise the opportunities available through the Foundation Centre, we have organised a series of Family Learning Roadshows, a programme of free, interactive and inter-generational learning activities, showcasing a range of academic disciplines on offer at Durham University. Run by Durham University Foundation Centre students and staff, the events are hosted in local primary schools, museums, libraries, and other cultural spaces across Durham.
The aim of the programme is to raise aspirations for primary school children and their families. Parents of primary school age children are among those mature learners who are most likely to consider re-entering education; therefore, this is an excellent opportunity for the Foundation Centre to identify and support people from the local area who might like to consider studying for a degree. Evidence also suggests that in order to raise educational aspirations of children, secondary school is probably too late: the seeds of Higher Education need to be planted in primary school in order to cement behaviours likely to allow successful progression. Family Learning activities like the Roadshow have already demonstrated an impact in changing perceptions about HE, both for parents as well as children.
We have recruited more than 20 current/ former Foundation Centre students, many of whom are student parents themselves and also represent the diverse nature of our student group. The Roadies have all been trained to deliver the stalls in an afternoon session (usually in a school hall or similar), with parents invited to attend as they collect their children. Foundation Centre staff will be available to support the activities and answer questions, and anyone interested can speak to admission tutors or sign up for one of our monthly Taster Sessions if they want to find out more about what is on offer.
Already twelve local primary schools have signed up for events in 2017. This year’s theme is ‘The Moonstone’, with an emphasis on linking sciences with other academic disciplines. Parents will work with their children to solve a the mystery of a well-known Victorian jewellery heist by looking at clues, for example eliminating a suspect by identifying powders or smells. A variety of exciting activities are on offer to engage a wide range of ages, and might include dressing up in Victorian costumes, role play, decorating a Victorian mansion, or making moonstones.
We will get back with an update and photographs from the events. Follow this journey with us.