Six hundred school children flock to University

28 April 2010

Six hundred primary school students attended the Compass Program's pathway to higher education Introduction to Uni Day
Six hundred primary school students attended the Compass Program's pathway to higher education Introduction to Uni Day

The front lawns of the Quadrangle burst into life last week with 600 Year 3 primary school students and 30 marquees filled with activities devised by University of Sydney faculties to engage and interest eight-year-olds.

Students from 12 Sydney primary schools, including Yagoona, Panania, Picnic Point and Revesby South, took part in an "Introduction to Uni Day" as part of the University's Compass - find your way to higher education program, which aims to encourage primary and secondary school children from low socio-economic backgrounds to aspire to higher education.

The Faculty of Law made law sound easy by talking about rules and how they are made, the Faculty of Veterinary Science indulged in some skullduggery to identify various animal skulls, the Faculty of Health Sciences looked inside the body with X-rays, while Sydney College of the Arts provided provided paints and materials to create, and the Sports Union got the kids hula hooping.

School groups rotated around the Quadrangle lawns to experience each activity during their time on campus.

"Research tells us that from as early as 11 children have clear ideas about themselves as learners and their future education and career," said Professor Derrick Armstrong, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education). "So we need to provide them with opportunities to explore possibilities from early primary school."

"Through the Compass program this introduction is followed up with enriched learning experiences, closely linked to the school curriculum to support the building of achievement and attainment - making higher education a real possibility."

The Compass program was launched last year by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education and Minister for Social Inclusion, the Hon. Julia Gillard MP, and the Vice-Chancellor, Michael Spence, in 2009 and is a partnership between the University of Sydney, the NSW Department of Education and Training and selected secondary and primary schools in Sydney.

"Our aim through the Compass Program is to encourage students from primary school onwards to think of higher education as a possibility for themselves. For that to be so they need to be aware of and understand the role of a university, and to believe it to be a place for them where interesting things are taught and learnt," said Annette Cairnduff, the Director of Social Inclusion.

"This will most likely be their first interaction with a university, but it will be the first of many interactions they will have over the course of their schooling with the University of Sydney through the Compass program.