Wednesday 18th January 2006 by C. Freeman
Open University learning is coming to Brooke Weston with the introduction of special courses to give sixth formers a taste of undergraduate work.
The OU Young Applicants in Schools scheme covers a wide range of subjects and promotes independent learning and an increase in students' self confidence and study skills. Participants have to plan and structure their own learning using interactive DVDs and then submit a written assignment to OU standards. The courses are well regarded by Higher Education establishments as they show a commitment to study and an ability to work at a level consistent with that required of first year undergraduates. Successful students are also awarded points for the successful completion of these courses. Points awarded vary between 10 and 60 University points dependent on the course. These points can count towards a degree and are transferable between the Open University and other colleges and universities.
The YASS scheme is running in over 60 schools countrywide and offers courses across the whole curriculum including arts, social science, modern languages, Science and IT.
The costs vary, but Brooke Weston will fund the course fees of its students who successfully pass.
The scheme has four start dates throughout the academic year but the Brooke Weston students are signing up for the May 2006 schedule which should fit in around existing exam commitments. One advantage of these courses is that finished work can either be submitted at the end of July or the end of October so students can vary their work-rate depending on any other commitments they have. Each course takes around 80 to 100 hours of study time, has a final written assignment and concludes with either a pass or fail.
Head of Science, Paul Knight, who is co-ordinating Brooke Weston's first YASS courses said: 'The whole point of doing this is that it broadens students' experiences and shows universities that they are able to use their own time to study and focus on something totally different. They work independently and there's no timetabled lessons. Form tutors here will be a bit like a study mentor, on hand to give a little advice and guidance although students will also get support from the OU website.'
With nearly 50 courses on offer in such diverse subjects as 'Start Writing for the Internet' 'Topics in the History of Mathematics' and 'Introducing Astronomy' around 30 students have expressed an interest in the new scheme.
Paul Knight said: 'This is a pilot study but I can definitely see it carrying on and maybe extending the scheme to gifted and talented students from lower year groups. When interviewing students, Admissions tutors at universities tend to be more interested in these courses than in A levels because all students are applying with A levels, but this is an extra qualification which shows commitment, interest in other subject areas and a keenness to find out what undergraduate study is like.'