1 year on: A Reflection of the Discover Arts and Humanities Programme

Hello readers, my name is Alex and I have been working as an ambassador and mentor for the outreach department for nearly four years. I am currently in my fourth year at The University of Sheffield studying for an MA in Musicology.

Between 2014/15 I was a returning ambassador for the absolutely incredible ‘Discover Arts and Humanities’ Y12/13 programme. The programme spans over two years and aims to develop young people who aspire to go into higher education within the arts and humanities. I wanted to write this blog post because I realised a few weeks ago that a young lady who was on this programme actually ended up getting into The University of Sheffield to study Music! I would just like to share both mine and her experience of the programme to show just how genuinely useful it is for these young people.

alex-and-emily-1I met up with Emily again for a coffee and we had a lovely chat reminiscing about the Discover Arts and Humanities programme. To add some context, Emily was one of 3-4 students, out of about 40-50, who wanted to do music (so inevitably we got to work together a lot!). Both me and Emily agreed that the programme was diverse and covered a lot of ground from different arts and humanities subjects to how to deal with finances and budgeting to how to make friends and be a social butterfly at university. It was wonderful to hear that Emily found both the ambassadors and programme leaders (at that time Laura, Kate and Sarah), friendly, welcoming and full of humour!

The programme is split into ‘away days’ about 3-4 times per year, which saw these young people come together from surrounding towns/cities/counties and try new subjects and gain and improve important skills. At the end of the year these young people got to experience the famous outreach summer school, which saw the young people stay in student accommodation and experience two intense days of team building, experiencing ‘the university experience’ and also dipping their toes into academic work. We both agreed that this was by far the best part of the programme as it was a lot of fun, even if we did have to get up early in the morning! I found the summer school incredibly effective for everybody involved as it offered invaluable skills for not only the young people, but also the ambassadors, who were given a lot of responsibility over the course of the two days.

The other large event that was a hot topic of conversation was the graduation event which was held in the Octagon Centre (where the real graduations are held). The young people were commended for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the programme and it was a fantastic to see some familiar faces again. Another great thing is by completing the programme the University makes an adjusted offer for entry – this is fantastic and has helped some of these students come to university. Emily is really enjoying the Department of Music at Sheffield and she is so happy to be here and she commented that when she arrived she felt she adjusted to university life easily, and this was in part due to this programme.

Discover Arts and Humanities offers an insight into university life, the campus and departments in the faculty as well as equipping these budding university students with some essential skills such as budgeting, communicative skills and writing skills. We had a fantastic trip to Manchester in the year and that was a great way to get to know one another, as well as experience some really interesting museums and attractions. Emily has also kept in touch with a couple of people from her group of students which is absolutely fantastic.

There was a mutual feeling that this programme offers so much for young people who are interested in studying an arts or humanity subject at university. This was definitely one of my favourite projects I had the pleasure to work on, well it didn’t really feel like work, it was much more about being a part of the development of these young people and I hope that the rest of the participants are doing what they were planning to do. I couldn’t recommend working/being a part of the outreach team, it’s one of the most valuable things I have been a part of in my time at university – long may it live!

Alex Burns BMus Music, MA Musicology

Twitter: @Classicalexb

Blog: classicalexburns.wordpress.com