The six-strong ‘SuperGeographers’ ambassador team is made up of final-year BA students Anis Islam, Adil Hussain Yousaf and Aqeeb Akram, environmental scientists Jason Lynch and Will Flynn, and BSc student Hamida Begum. Since September the School of Geography has worked with Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Hove, Greenford High School in Southall, Skinners Academy and Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, as well as the local St Paul’s Way Trust School, Raines Foundation School and Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, Chobham Academy in Stratford, and the London Academy of Excellence in Newham, among others.
Kate Amis is Widening Participation Officer in the School of Geography; she has been liaising with the schools, trained the ambassadors, and developed resources for the sessions. Following the most recent visit to Bow School in Tower Hamlets earlier this week, she said: “Over the past couple of days we have worked with over 250 pupils from Key Stage 3 and 4 to engage them with the possibilities that geography can offer them for their progression. Our ambassadors were fantastic – they proved themselves to be confident, adaptable and enthusiastic not only in representing geography and environmental science, but also in terms of their pride in the School of Geography here at QMUL and their commitment to sharing their motivating personal stories with these young people.”
One teacher from Bow School said that they have “never seen a group of visitors interact and engage so successfully with a class”. The Head of Geography was delighted that the ambassadors had seen so many classes and hopes that this will be the beginning of a new era for geography in the school where in the past GCSE numbers have been low.
Dr Stephen Taylor, Lecturer in Human Geography and Academic Lead for Schools Liaison and Widening Participation, said: “We are so appreciative that our students took time out of their busy schedules to champion geography and environmental science at Bow School this week.”
“Our discipline needs approachable role models to encourage all students – regardless of their background or circumstances – to push on with their geographical adventure (we hope all the way to university!); and it’s fantastic to see our students have been keen to do this through this initiative.”
Professor Alison Blunt, Head of School of Geography, said: “We are very proud of our ambassadors. This kind of work in schools, both in inspiring students to study geography and environmental science, and to support teachers particularly with the new GCSE and A-level curricula is incredibly important. We have such a strong programme of doing this at QMUL, and its success in large part is down to our ambassadors’ commitment and dedication.”
“Thank you for the wonderful work of our ‘SuperGeographers’ and thank you to Kate and Stephen for organizing such excellent work with local schools,” Professor Blunt added.
The ‘Pathway to success’ initiative feeds into a wide array of schools outreach and widening participation activities that the School of Geography at QMUL undertakes, which also includes the ‘Stepping Stones’ mentoring scheme.