Back to school

As many children across our county head back to school for the new academic year, it seemed like an appropriate time to showcase the excellent work the University does with local schools. We have over 45 formal partnerships with non-selective secondary schools and partner FE colleges across the county, where we offer outreach activities, provide curriculum support and information about higher education options to 18,000 learners.

As part of this outreach, the University sponsors two schools via the University of Kent Academy Trust (UKAT), Brompton Academy – with which we have been involved since 2010 – and Chatham Grammar School for Girls (CGSG), where we became a sponsor in September 2017. I and four other members of staff (Dan Lloyd, Georgina Randsley de Moura, Neil Oliver and Jen Wyatt) are governors of Brompton Academy and Chatham Grammar Schools for Girls and we get to see first-hand the impact that the University’s involvement with these two schools has on a day-to-day basis. We are making a positive impact on the governance of the school and the University is also gaining valuable insight into the secondary education system. In May, CGSG had its Ofsted inspection and it was clear that our involvement with the school has already helped it improve even in the short time since September 2017.

“The UKAT governing body is a strength of the school. Experienced, determined and insightful governors have high aspirations for the school. They bring a wide range of experience and expertise both to support and challenge leaders effectively.” Ofsted report, May 2018, Chatham Grammar School for Girls

In the two academies, we run an initiative called the Graduate Secondary Teaching Scheme (GSTS). This is a scheme which aims to support exceptional Kent graduates in postgraduate study, specifically in undertaking a PhD, whilst also training to be a teacher. A unique and innovative programme, the GSTS enhances pupils’ learning by exposing them to research based teaching and opening their minds to what can be achieved. We currently have six PhD students taking this route of research and teacher training, and four of these students have been assessed as being outstanding teachers.

A new development such as the Kent and Medway Medical School provides a new and exciting opportunity to inspire the young people of our region to aim high and encourage them to enter the medical profession, something many of the pupils from our partnership schools do not currently aspire to. We are working closely with colleagues at Canterbury Christ Church University to make sure that widening access for all is at the heart of the new Medical School.

David Nightingale, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost