Activities were set, the ribbon was cut and a new education centre was officially opened in West Earlham, one which is set to benefit thousands of young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in Norwich.
The opening event at West Earlham Community Centre next week signalled the start of a new partnership between the University of East Anglia (UEA) and IntoUniversity, the UK’s largest university-access charity.
Around 20 students aged 7-18 attended the event, and all of them will benefit from the education at the centre for the next academic year and beyond.
The primary school students took part in a variety of activities, replicating the type of activities they will be engaging with in the year ahead, including creating obstacle courses for programmable mice, an introduction to town planning through creating maps out of polydrons, and designing their own super-vegetables.
Secondary school students came up with questions to survey attending guests, with both primary and secondary students delivering speeches at the end of the event.
Students, parents and teachers from Norwich schools including West Earlham Junior School, Valley Primary, City Academy Norwich, Hethersett Academy and Ormiston Victory Academy attended, along with UEA Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Richardson, and Rachel Carr, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of IntoUniversity.
Over half the funding for the centre, which employs five full-time members of staff, is being provided by UEA, with a mentoring programme with current university students and professionals strengthening the partnerships between local schools and UEA’s Outreach team.
The centre will be used between Mondays and Thursdays during term times, for both daytime and after-school activities, with the centre available for use by the rest of the community during the remainder of the week.
IntoUniversity has a proven track record of improving attainment into further education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and has supported more than 100,000 students across over 32 centres and extension projects nationwide since 2002.
71% of school leavers who attended IntoUniversity centres in 2020 went on to progress to university, compared with 26% of students from similar backgrounds nationally, meaning students are effectively three times more likely to enter Higher Education through regular attendance.
UEA Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Richardson, said: “It was a real pleasure to meet and speak to some bright and inspirational young people, some of whom are right at the start of their educational journey but already have great plans for their future careers and are excited about the prospect of studying at University.
“Our partnership with IntoUniversity gives them a much better opportunity to realise these ambitions, and of course this was just a small number of the hundreds of Norwich school students that this centre will support.
“Being able to offer these chances to school students from all backgrounds is a big part of what makes me proud to be Vice-Chancellor of a university likes UEA, so I couldn’t be happier that the centre is up and running and already appears to be a great success.”
Hugh Rayment-Pickard, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder at IntoUniversity, said: “We're delighted to have officially launched IntoUniversity Norwich in partnership with the University of East Anglia. We have been generously welcomed into the community by families, partner schools and other neighbourhood groups. It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the success of our students so far, as well as looking forward to what they will achieve in the future.”