This is the second blog in our series on lifelong learning and the important role universities can play in promoting this. Yesterday’s blog stated that a significant factor on whether you will engage in later life learning is how engaged you were when you were younger and today I will expand on this by introducing the Green Apples Project.
Green Apples is a collaborative project between York St John University, University of York, York College and Askham Bryan. The scheme has been in place since 1998 and its aim is to engage with pupils over an extended period of time to raise aspirations about higher education.
Green Apples involves all of the 10 secondary schools in York and works mainly with pupils in years 9-11 but there is also some primary school activity (involving 10 York primary schools) and continued support into years 12 and 13.
The project has five objectives:
- To provide the opportunity for students to create their own skill set to build their future in higher education
- To provide students with the experience and understanding of higher education to allow them to make informed choices
- To provide students with the confidence and self-esteem to consider that higher education is an option if they wish to pursue it
- To dispel myths about higher education and student finance
- To raise aspirations, not only for higher education, but for lifelong learning.
One of the first activities in the project is for year six pupils so be shown round York St John. For most this will be the first time they have set foot in a university. Other milestones include workshops on UCAS applications and spending two days exploring studying at university. There is also a celebration at the Guildhall in York where pupils are presented with certificates by the Lord Mayor. All these activities help build confidence and make university and lifelong learning appeal as a realistic option. Indeed, evaluation has shown that a higher percentage of the Green Apples cohort continue their education at post-16, compared with all York Year 11 students.
One of the important things to note about this project and its success is that is it not the result of a single organisation. York St John works together with other further and higher education providers as well as with schools, The Education Funding Agency and City of York Council. I believe that this collaborative approach is key to the project’s success. Messages are being underlined and accentuated numerous times in different ways by different bodies to give them more weight and authenticity.
This highlights the role which universities play as part of a community and not as single entities standing alone. I will explore this idea of universities as anchor institutions in a larger community further in Thursday’s blog but tomorrow I will introduce York St John’s Converge project which provides lifelong learning and support for people who use mental health services.