A project which aims to raise the aspirations of young people in South Wales is celebrating its 10th year.
Cardiff University’s SHARE with Schools initiative, which is run by postgraduates and undergraduates, provides an annual programme of interactive, interdisciplinary workshops transferring research, teaching and knowledge to partner primary and secondary schools.
The project works to reach young people from geographic areas under-represented in higher education in South East Wales, building long-term partnerships with schools through fun, interactive annual outreach and return visits.
Pupils are given the opportunity to explore topics on history, religion and archaeology, with hands-on sessions tailored to the school curriculum. Since the pandemic, the project has developed a range of interactive digital resources to ensure this work continues with live digital outreach and informal question-and-answer sessions about life at university.
All sessions are delivered by university students, who gain experience of teaching and communicating the latest research, while the programme and sessions are managed and designed by a team of postgraduates.
Since being established a decade ago, SHARE with Schools has delivered 237 workshops in 18 schools to more than 5,000 pupils. It has also facilitated bespoke, accessible visits to Cardiff University for more than 450 pupils.
The scheme has also seen 340 undergraduate volunteers and 34 postgraduate coordinators gaining valuable teaching experience, as well as skills in research, digital and social media, public speaking, public engagement and project management.
Laiqah Osman, Postgraduate Coordinator at SHARE with Schools said: “As we celebrate 10 years of SHARE with Schools, it is important to remember that this is a project for students, by students. At every level, planning, organisation, and delivery, we strive to create an environment where students can get involved and build their skills.
“The true success of SHARE with Schools can be found in its core ethos of widening participation to higher education. This is the driving force behind the volunteers and postgraduate coordinators who get involved. We are motivated by the opportunity to provide valuable guidance and share tips to inspire primary and secondary students who may not have considered university as an option for them. Our interaction with pupils in our partner schools, through the delivery of interactive workshops, has the potential to be lifechanging.’
Martin Hulland, Headteacher at Cardiff West Community High School said: “We are proud to be linked closely with Cardiff University. Our students have gained so much from working with numerous undergraduates and postgraduates from SHARE with Schools over the years.
“The more our students know about Higher Education by meeting and working alongside undergraduate students, the more likely they are to attend in the future and consider it as part of their progression."
Yvonne Roberts-Ablett, Assistant Headteacher at Fitzalan High School, said: “We have enjoyed working alongside many cohorts of excellent students who have always supported our pupils, planning excellent sessions and working with the utmost care and guidance. There are two aspects that make the project particularly unique. Firstly, the return visits to the university for the pupils that have been involved in the workshops. A guided tour of the archaeology laboratories demonstrated a range of courses beyond traditional history degrees that pupils were not aware were possible beforehand.
“Secondly, the way in which the workshops integrate a ’hands on’ experience for pupils really brings history to life. It is a masterclass in developing enquiries suitable for the Curriculum for Wales.’
Watch the SHARE with Schools video
Ben Dillon, 26, was a student volunteer for SHARE with Schools during the second and third year of his Archaeology degree. He is now hoping to start a Master’s in Teaching.
He said: “This initiative has been huge in inspiring me to become a teacher after I realised how fun working in classrooms was and the real fulfilment I felt in being a part of education. It helped me develop and work on loads of new skills. Speaking in front of a relatively large audience and working across different age groups really tested and brought out abilities I didn’t think I had before the project.
“You could tell through the reactions of the students and teachers that we were actually contributing something to the schools and community. It was rewarding in the best way.’
Reader in Early Medieval History Dr David Wyatt, based at Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, said: “I’m just so proud to have been a small part of SHARE with Schools, which really is a student-led project to its core. What is so inspiring about the programme is that it is really is about breaking down barriers and challenges that young people face when thinking about coming to university, but that is driven by other young people who have successfully come to university - some of whom have faced very similar barriers and challenges.’
The School allows the brightest and best to explore and share their passion for past societies and religious beliefs, from prehistory to the present day.