Rotherham Teenagers Scale New Heights To Inspire Education Ambitions

Thursday 19th April 2018

Rotherham teenagers are set to scale new heights in a challenging physical activity programme launched this week to inspire them to aim high in their education.

Forty-eight students from Thomas Rotherham College are taking part in Challenge Yourself, which develops self-confidence, teamwork and problem solving skills. The scheme, for 16 and 17-year-olds, includes abseiling, climbing, orienteering and weaselling in three activity sessions from April until June.

Dr Stephan Jungnitz, Interim Principal, Thomas Rotherham College, said: “We want our students to aim high and fulfil their potential. This scheme helps to instil that it is possible for our students to achieve their ambitions if they have the self confidence and resilience to face a challenge and step out of their comfort zone.”

The Challenge Yourself initiative is being led by Thomas Rotherham College and links to a broader campaign to increase the number of South Yorkshire teenagers going on to higher education. It is being backed by the regional outreach scheme Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire Plus (HeppSY+)

Manny Sidhu, 16, is studying three A Levels in English language, media and film studies and aspires to go to university or complete an apprenticeship to become a television presenter. He said: “It’s great to take part in these activities. They have helped to develop my self confidence and team building skills. For example, we’ve learned about trust when we’ve relied on our climbing partners to belay us safely down from the wall.”

Abbie Cooper, 16, is completing three A Levels in English language, geography and sociology. She said: “We’re learning the confidence, communication and teamwork skills that we will need when we go to university and for our future careers. I think this scheme is also beneficial to encouraging more young people from our area who are less likely to go to university to consider applying.”

Cameron McSeveney, 17, who is completing two A Levels in maths and psychology, and a BTEC in criminology, added: “I’ve really been looking forward to taking part in the climbing. It’s great that we are getting a chance to try some activities that we wouldn’t usually do.”

Cameron is planning to go onto university to study architecture or criminology and hopes to stay local. He added: “If you want to improve yourself then it’s important to consider going to university. There are some concerns about the cost but I think there are ways to deal with the financial side and that has to be balanced with the long term benefits of a university education that affects the rest of your life.”

HeppSY+ is running a long-term campaign to double the number of young people going on to degree level courses and apprenticeships at further education colleges and universities in 45 target electoral wards in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, North East Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire.

The HeppSY+ graduate intern outreach team attend the Challenge Yourself activity sessions and provide information about higher education courses at college and university. The team comprises former graduates from a broad range of backgrounds who talk about their own experience of university as well as other issues such as how to apply and finance.

Rebecca Wilson, aged 22, is part of the HeppSY+ graduate intern team. A former Thomas Rotherham College student, Rebecca graduated with a BSc Honours Degree in Environmental Science from the University of the West of England last year. She added: “I’ve really developed as a person and gained so much from going away to university. It’s made me much more independent. I used to be very shy but I’m a lot more confident now. It’s a good feeling to be able to come back and raise awareness amongst current college students of the opportunities that higher education can provide.”

Mike Garnock-Jones, Director, Higher Education Progression Partnership, said: “We’re delighted to work with Thomas Rotherham College students as part of our campaign to unlock the talent of young people who might not have otherwise gone on to study a degree at college, university or as part of an apprenticeship. Young people who learn more can earn more, and boost their career and life prospects.”

The Challenge Yourself programme takes place at the Foundry Climbing Centre in Sheffield in April and Burbage and Stanage Edge, and Thornbridge Hall, in the Peak District in June. For more information, visit Follow @HeppSYplus.