The S Factor
Many Widening Participation projects focus on 16 – 18 year olds and encouraging them to aim as high as they can when it comes to their next steps, such as applying to university. This approach, whilst beneficial to the sixth formers involved, has one main stumbling block: What happens if the students have lost interest before they reach 16? What if the scientists of tomorrow have become so uninterested by the time they reach sixth form that WP projects aimed at sixth formers are too little, too late?
The S Factor is a project designed and run by the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, specifically to tackle this issue. We work with male students in Year 9 who school staff members have targeted as bright but lacking motivation in the sciences; this is something we have found to be a much bigger issue with boys than girls.
Once the schools have identified the students who will most benefit, they take part in three sessions with staff at the RVC.
The first is run by the Anatomy Department, where they are taught all about how animals are put together using real specimens. As part of this they get to see the blueprint of all mammals and how you can make bones bendy!
The students, armed with this knowledge and growing enthusiasm, then see our Learning Support section for the second session. Here the group is shown how to put their knowledge into a lesson plan aimed at students younger than themselves. The participants are wholly in charge of their lesson plan and come up with innovative ways of teaching, usually with very little input required from RVC staff.
The whole project culminates in a visit to a primary school. Here, our previously uninterested Year 9s spend an hour teaching a Year 6 class “All About Anatomy”. Each time, the change from bored to incredibly enthusiastic in the space of three sessions is astounding and the Year 6s gain a lot from the experience too. Previous participants have gone away declaring a desire to be a teacher, vet or scientist after enjoying themselves so much.
Should you wish to become involved in this fantastic project then please contact James Cannon, the RVC’s Widening Participation Development Officer.