St George's, University of London


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Name of Company:St George's, University of London
Programme Name:The Experiments Roadshows
Staff in London:900

Overview

The Experiments Roadshows are fun-filled, interactive sessions delivered by fully trained St George's student volunteers that bring a range of professions to life. The Roadshows give students in years 8-11 a chance to try their hands at being Medics, Radiographers, Paramedicine or Physiotherapists. All sessions are suitable for whole classes and link well to Science and Personal, Social, Health and Education teaching, offering a new angle on established elements of the Curriculum. Schools choose from a range of Roadshows including: Prosthetics (Medicine), Radiography, Paramedicine and Physiotherapy.

Not only do the roadshows help the pupils, they also offer a wide range of professional development benefits for the volunteers, all of whom will move into front-line healthcare service provision in the NHS. The programme has grown over the years from just four student volunteers in 2003 to over 80 volunteers in 2008.

Management

The roadshows are organised by The Widening Participation Unit which is committed to developing interactive and innovative ways of engaging young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Widening Participation Unit commits a nominal £6,000 budget to this work, to cover all training, equipment, travel and an awards/reward event at the end of each year for the volunteers.

Training is designed not only to prepare the volunteers for their sessions, but also to offer key skills appropriate to their development as healthcare professionals. As well as extensive child safeguarding, training covers delivery of the sessions, classroom management, problem solving and finishes with voice coach training from an actor and an opera singer! Feedback is received from a sample of participants throughout the year, as well as formally from volunteers on an annual basis. Volunteers are also able to make informal comments at the end of each session. Our unique management set up allows senior volunteers ('Roadshow Consultants') to incorporate feedback into a regular review of the sessions, leading to regular improvements.

The programme is managed by the Head of Widening Participation, who receives strong support from senior staff. The principal was involved in the last volunteer awards ceremony.

Impact

There are currently in excess of 80 student volunteers delivering over 110 sessions per year, in inner-city comprehensive schools right across London. The project reaches in excess of 3,000 pupils per year. Recent evaluation showed that 93 percent of participants agreed that the activities were interesting and had taught them new things, and 80 percent agreed that the Roadshows had helped them reach a decision about going on to Higher Education.

"The roadshows also show the students the diversity and importance of the health professions. They have introduced many students to the range of opportunities that are available to them, and the skills and qualifications that they will require if they desire a career in this field. They have been an invaluable resource that links into a co-ordinated diet of widening participation activities that encourage Wandsworth students to stay on in education in an attempt to fulfil their true academic potential."
Alex Purssey, AimHigher coordinator Wandsworth