Lancaster University

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Lancaster to lead North West Excellence Hub

05/10/2007 15:53:41

Schoolchildren on a previous course for gifted and talented youngsters held at Lancaster University
Schoolchildren on a previous course for gifted and talented youngsters held at Lancaster University

Lancaster University has been awarded a four year contract worth at least £400,000 to lead a partnership to stretch and challenge the abilities of gifted and talented youngsters.

Together with the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester, Lancaster is to form an Excellence Hub in the region to lead provision for the top ten per cent of the school population.

The Government’s Department for Education and Skills is to award at least £100,000 a year to the Hub, which will also generate matching funding.

Lancaster's Excellence Hub will focus its activities on the many thousands of young people in the North West who are classed by their teachers as gifted and talented in areas ranging from academic excellence to sporting prowess and artistic and performing ability.

There will be summer schools, masterclasses with academics, weekend events and online learning.

Prof Keith Percy is Director of the School of Lifelong Learning and Widening Participation and Head of the Department of Continuing Education at Lancaster.

He said: “This means we’re now a flagship university for supporting gifted and talented young people. It brings prestige and recognition to Lancaster along with the benefit that young people on these courses will see good universities such as Lancaster as a destination to aim for.”

Prof Percy said that a key aspect of the NW Excellence Hub will be its determination to seek out, and to support, giftedness and talent among children who come from poorer homes and homes which have no tradition of higher education. The Hub will provide free or subsidised courses to disadvantaged youngsters who will take up to at least a third of the places available

He said many gifted and talented schoolchildren risked becoming bored if they are not sufficiently challenged.

“Clever children may feel they’re treading water at school and become disengaged.

They need new horizons, new interests and to feel that they’re not the odd one out. That’s why it’s so good for them to come to Lancaster and try new subjects or new combinations of subjects which they may not experience at school or find out about the latest research.

“Coming to Lancaster shows gifted and talented youth that this is what’s lying ahead of you, you can come here if you work hard enough and don’t get demotivated.”

Courses will take place not just at the three universities in the Hub but also at outside organisations such as museums and art galleries, orchestras and football clubs. Other higher education institutions will also be invited to make provision promoted by the Hub.

Prof Percy also said he wants to develop innovative areas such as awarding credit for university modules taken by the youngsters, or developing parent and children learning so the families do not feel left out of their offspring’s education.

The North West Excellence Hub will be one of nine commissioned by the DfES to cover the country.