In May this year, as lockdown took hold, exams were cancelled, and schools were closed to most, we devised and launched a 10-week mentoring scheme in partnership with Brightside.
One hundred and seventy-three Year 13 students preparing to study physics at university have been involved in the scheme, working with 95 current undergraduates who have been mentoring these prospective HE students.
"It shows what we can achieve when a group of individuals who share a vision of how things can be done differently come together to create something that has lasting impact on so many people."
Dr Fuller, UCL
“With many of the traditional support mechanisms not immediately available this year, and uncertainty about what studying at university will actually involve this Autumn, we wanted to help physics students prepare for life at university as best they could,” explains Programme Officer, Dr Amnah Khan. “We recruited current undergraduates – several of whom were due to take part in our Teach Physics programme prior to its cancellation for this year – to offer weekly online guidance and support.”
Where possible, the A-level students were matched with an undergraduate currently studying at the student’s first choice institution. The mentors were given a mentoring framework to follow, online training, and guidance to help them in their interactions with their mentees. All of the interactions were channelled through the Brightside mentoring platform.
"Thank you so much for organising such an amazing mentoring programme with Brightside. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a mentor and feel that this experience has been beneficial to both my mentees and myself."
During the course of the programme, discussions included ‘a day in the life of an undergraduate’, learning and revision skills, and university lab work, which were part of a 10-week timetable of support designed to help students plan and prepare for university.
“It was a challenge to get this programme so quickly in place following the disruption caused by COVID-19, but in partnership with Brightside and with input from several of our funded outreach officers we achieved a really valuable scheme of support for these future physics students,” says Amnah. “We were overwhelmed with offers from current undergraduates who wanted to take part as mentors, and we are grateful to them all for their commitment to this programme and the students they have supported.
“We hope that the mentees who took part on the scheme will have an increased confidence when approaching their degree and university life. We will be following up with them as they begin their studies to see how they are getting on and how useful they have found the scheme,” adds Amnah. “The resources from the programme will continue to be available for all school students thinking about studying physics at university. Even in ‘normal’ times, the resources will provide useful tips to help new undergraduates prepare and settle in at university.”