City schoolchildren celebrate ’graduation’

Pupils from Mansbridge Primary School with their teacher and university staff
Pupils from Mansbridge Primary School with their teacher and university staff

More than 100 primary schoolchildren from across Southampton city attended their very own ’graduation’ at the University of Southampton this week.

Pupils from seven primary schools across the city visited the university’s Turner Sims concert hall to receive their graduation certificates, having successfully completed university-organised literacy and numeracy programmes.

Student ambassadors from the university have worked with 123 children over 10 weeks, visiting their schools to deliver small sessions to support their maths and literacy. They have also worked with pupils in years 7 to 10 at Cantell School and year 7 pupils at St George Catholic College in Swaythling - a total of 115 secondary school children - supporting them with reading.

The aim of the programmes is to support additional education for children who need it most, to help reduce the attainment gap that has widened since the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Olivia Dabrowska, 11, is in year 6 at participating school Mansbridge Primary. She said: "It feels nice to graduate today, even though I am not old enough for a real graduation! My favourite part of the sessions was learning fractions."

Cody Kruger, 11, added: "I liked how we got to take turns to read - it boosted my confidence."

Alison Von Landau, Deputy Headteacher and English Lead at Mansbridge Primary School, said: "Through the programme, the children have become a lot more engaged in their reading and are really enjoying books. You can see their engagement shining through, which is fabulous."

Chantelle Veneroso, Widening Participation Coordinator at the university, who supports the coordination of the school programmes, said: "Our focus with primary schools is to support the children’s transition to secondary school, and their lifelong learning beyond that. It’s been wonderful to see the children’s confidence grow in their maths and literacy, and fantastic to be able to offer them that extra bit of support."

Student ambassador Isobel Buck, 21, said: "I’ve always had a passion for helping young people, and it was really enjoyable to take part in this programme and see them grow in confidence. It was great experience because I would like to be a teacher."

The participating primary schools were:

  • Hope Community School, St Mary’s
  • Kanes Hill Primary School, Thornhill
  • Mansbridge Primary School
  • Mason Moor Primary School, Millbrook
  • Moorlands Primary School, Midanbury
  • St Denys Primary School
  • St Mary’s CE Primary School

The schoolchildren ’graduated’ on Wednesday 19 June at an event that included a show by science presenter Ian B Dunne. Watch their graduation and hear from them in our video:

Second image: Year 6 pupils from Mansbridge Primary School with their ’graduation’ certificates. L-R: Isabella Chadwick, Cody Kruger, Millie Goldsworthy, Lacie McEwan-Bergg, Olivia Dabrowska and Lily Foster (all aged 11)