Joined in with the Call Kaye programme today on Radio Scotland where they were debating inclusion to University. I manage a programme called “The Graduate” at work that aims to do just that. You might have read about us in TES Scotland.
I get passionate that young people from “deprived” areas are not looking for lowered academic expectations to get into University – How patronising is that? I believe we need to up aspiration and belief and self esteem.
I’ll give you an example; an ex pupil of mine who left school with excellent academic qualifications was chatting to the Heidie when she was choosing her Dux prize. The Boss asked her why she was doing an HN and not a degree – Her heart breaking answer was “I didn’t think it was the right place for me” – she didn’t believe she belonged. How much rubbish is that in the 21st century.
Now that girl has her choice of University courses to go to in September so – she HAS achieved.
I grew up in Gallowhill, a relatively poor area in Paisley in the 70s and 80s. Both my brother and I went to University. But, in a Neil Kinnock stylee, we were the first Robertsons in hundreds of generations to do that. Was I better than my pals I played football in the street with? Certainly not. The difference was my parents (a Cooper and a shop worker) would use language like “When you go to Uni”… It was the language that mattered. I always knew and believed I was going.
That’s why our “Graduate” Programme starts by running PX2 by the Pacific Institute. Because it HAS to be about the language our pupils hear daily. It has to be about them talking about HE as a serious positive destination.
Yes – Attainment is essential – but it’s belief and hope that need to drive that attainment – and equipping our young people with the skills and resilience to get to University.