Successful Saints Scholars Programme helps to open door to University for South Tyneside students

23rd September 2022

The Saints Scholars programme, funded by the Community Foundation and implemented at St. Wilfrid’s RC College in South Tyneside assisted students to gain aspirations of going to University.

The programme was piloted by Rosanne Hume, Head of Spanish at St Wilfrid’s and now Assistant Vice Principal at Castle View Enterprise Academy, in Sunderland.

Removing Stigmas

The Saints Scholars programme began with a residential launch event at Durham University to introduce students from Year 9 and Year 10 cohorts to the concept of University level study. Letters were also sent home to involve parents in the programme.

The students were chosen with a  holistic approach, looking at in-school assessment data, PP/LAC/IDAQI indices, pastoral team referrals and form teacher recommendations. Pupils selected were mid-high attaining, PP and LAC students but the school also took a “needs driven” approach to select pupils who would benefit most from the programme, as opposed to children who fit certain labels.

Pupils then took part in a six-week lecture series between Easter and May half-term in which staff presented on a range of academic topics on a Wednesday after-school such as astrophysics, criminology, law, sociology and politics. Students were required to write a 1,000 assignment at the end of the project, using the guidance provided by the school’s LP English on essay writing.

Finally, a celebration event took place after May half term in which pupils visited Newcastle University for a guided tour and took part in a range of activities that day to expand their cultural capital such as a museum and restaurant visit.

Rosanna Hume commented:

“Our aim was to raise aspirations through fomenting the belief that “University is an avenue for me and this is how I get there”. We wanted to remove some of the cultural and societal stigmas that are often cited as barriers for disadvantaged children in terms of their participation in further education and we built lasting relationships with local institutions and organisations to help raise aspirations for cohorts of students in the future too.”

The programme addressed challenges faced by pupils in South Tyneside, where the rise in child poverty inevitably had a knock-on effect for students in terms of their access to cultural opportunities.

Students who took part in the programme noted they now felt more optimistic about the costs of University and stated:

“It has been eye opening on what university has to offer.”

Community Foundation funding still available

The Schools North East and Community Foundation Fund partnership so far has distributed over £90,000 to schools who are looking to develop their cultural, sporting or careers provision for disadvantaged and looked-after children.

The focus is on the priorities:

Developing dedicated cultural and sporting enrichment opportunities for students
Giving disadvantaged children access to cultural spaces and events, such as visits to museums, art galleries, places of local historical significance and sporting interests.
Developing high quality Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) and work placements and university visits for disadvantaged and looked after children.
There is still £2,583 left in funding to be distributed to schools within Newcastle and Gateshead.

The aim of the fund is to provide a broader enriched curriculum to support students in-school learning, raise levels of pride and appreciation of the region, and develop cultural capital within school settings.  The development of sporting opportunities will improve the general wellbeing and health of students and create strong community links with other organisations and establishments.

The deadline for the funding application is October 8th 2022.

Application form:

We love to hear good news from North East Schools, to share your news with Schools North East please tag @SchoolsNE on Twitter or apply here: