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Cymraeg

Cardiff summer schools help Wales bridge the skills gap

28 July 2010

Students studying together

Pupils from diverse backgrounds across Wales have been enthused by University summer schools encouraging them to seek professional careers.

The residential schools are just one of the ways the University is spearheading the drive for better professional skills and qualifications in Wales. This year, around 100 children have had their eyes opened to new possibilities in law, architecture, accountancy and the health professions.

The events, organised by the University’s Widening Access team, were targeted at pupils attending schools without a strong tradition of progression to university education

Would-be lawyers, all presently in Year 12, attended the Law Summer School, which was based on the theme of 'Law and War'. During an inspiring visit to Maindy Barracks, students were given an insight into military law with a keynote address from Major General D M Howell OBE, Director-General of Army Legal Services, and a presentation by Captain Mitchell, Adjutant, Wales Universities Officer Training Corps.

Hosted by Cardiff Law School, the summer school is part of the Valleys Law Initiative and is run in partnership with Swansea University’s School of Law and Reaching Wider Team. Acting as legal advisers in Cardiff Law School's mock court room, pupils participated in lively debates on issues such as child soldiers, torture and prohibited weapons.

A further 65 Year 12 pupils attended the University’s Access to the Professions Summer School. In the past, the summer school has focussed on healthcare professions but this year it was extended to a wider selection of professional careers. Activities included research, project work, clinical and study skills using the latest technologies available at the University. The pupils also completed practical workshops on applying for professional university courses.

Magazine being analysed

Improving access to higher level skills is a key aim of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Higher Education Strategy For our Future.

Two other Summer Schools, funded by Reaching Wider First Campus, offered tailored provision for pupils within the Spectrum of Aspergers Syndrome and for children in care. The first, the Discovery Summer School, run in partnership with Autism Cymru and NAS Cymru, is unique in the UK and provides first-hand experience of the first few days of university.

The Confident Futures Summer School, now in its second year and backed by Looked After Children teams from Caerphilly, Bridgend, and Rhondda Cynon Taff is also a UK pioneer, giving young people an insight into making the transition from care to university life. It has been highly acclaimed by social work professionals across South Wales.

Sarah Harding, from Bridgend’s Looked-After Team, said: "All the young people enjoyed the three days thoroughly and three of mine have decided that they would definitely like to go on to higher education."

Annie Mitchell, Manager of the University’s Widening Access team said: "Our summer schools have a proven track record of inspiring young people to aim for university life. By staying for a few days in University residences, they get an insight into the social side of being a student, as well as the academic opportunities. Feedback from all four schools was extremely encouraging, and we hope to see many of this year’s summer school students applying for University professional courses in the future."

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