Raising aspirations at collaborative summer school

This year’s collaborative residential was bigger and better than ever. 94 year 10 pupils from schools across the region attended the ‘Class of 2023’ summer school from Tuesday 18 to Thursday 20 July. The three days were themed in order to reflect a Higher Education student’s journey: making informed decisions about courses, sampling university and college-level subjects in taster sessions, and employability and graduation. The theme of the student journey was reinforced by a bespoke ‘Class of 2023’ reflective workbook designed by Kyle Prior, a student at Leeds Arts University.

The aim of the residential was to give the pupils the chance to find out about the range of courses and Higher Education providers on offer in West Yorkshire, provide them with the opportunity to take part in subject taster workshops, to raise aspirations, and to give them first-hand experience of student life. The idea was to help them picture themselves as students in the future (graduating, if they take that pathway, in 2023).

Staying at Leeds Beckett University’s Kirkstall Brewery halls of residence, the students also had the opportunity to visit Leeds City College, Leeds Trinity University, Bradford College, University of Bradford, and Wakefield College, and take part in activities (supported, alongside the host institutions, by Calderdale College, Kirklees College, University of Huddersfield, Leeds Arts University, Leeds College of Building, and University of Leeds).

Ruth Kempf, a Higher Education Progression Officer at Bishop Young Academy, said:

“The UCAS fair was particularly inspirational for our kids – it’s not something they’ve ever really experienced before. They’ve had a careers fair at school and they likened it to that; and I think the realisation that it actually is for everybody, and it is possible, is something that they really got out of that. Also the chance to be able to work with different kids from different schools and different backgrounds has been great; and the fact that half of our team of students, five of them, were able to actually stand up and present, and have the confidence to do that, which I don’t think they would have done at the start of the three days.  A lot of our students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and since we appointed a careers advisor last year, children at the school have started to gain an understanding and we’re starting to raise aspirations at a ground level.”


James Kelly, a Higher Education Progression Officer at Carlton Bolling College in Bradford, said:

“I think the best activity has been the university taster sessions on the second day: these were engaging and a chance for them to dive in and have a look at what a Higher Education course could actually be like for them. It was also a good opportunity for them to mix in with other schools which is something that they’re going to have to do at university and was a rewarding experience.”


Students had the opportunity to try subjects including Forensic Science, Law, Social Work, Media Make Up and Special Effects, Civil Engineering, Photography, Games Design, Textiles and Marketing. The employability and graduation events took place at Wakefield College’s Advanced Skills and Innovation Centre.

“We wanted to inspire them with a sense of possibility, and give them a real sense of the range of options available to them”, said Dr Anna Woodhouse (Go Higher West Yorkshire Partnership Coordinator).


Thirteen schools took part in the residential: Airedale Academy, Appleton Academy, Bishop Young Academy (formerly David Young Academy), Bradford Academy, Carlton Bolling College  Castleford Academy, Cathedral Academy, Dixons Trinity Academy, Featherstone Academy, Immanuel College, Leeds 14+ Apprenticeship Academy, Leeds West Academy, and Westborough High School.

The residential was co-funded by Go Higher West Yorkshire NCOP and contributions from partners. Our thanks go out to all of our partners for their hard work, and of course, to all of the students and staff who attended for their commitment and enthusiasm in making this a success!