CU Adelaide School Holiday Program – Nurturing aspiration and awareness for tertiary study

Children’s University (CU) was launched in Australia in October 2013 with our pilot school Mark Oliphant College by way of a school holiday program. From the outset, the school holiday program has intentionally been a crucial part of the CU program in Australia.

The CU program is funded under the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships (HEPP) agenda, the main purpose of which is to raise aspiration and awareness of tertiary study to students who would not normally see this as a practical or possible pathway. The school holiday program focuses on CU target schools, Department of Education and Child Development category 1-4 schools with an Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage below 1000, indicating the highest level of disadvantage. Traditionally students from these schools do not go on to tertiary study. One of the key methods to raise aspiration and awareness for tertiary study in program participants has been to invite participants onto the University campus, and also to encourage engagement with University staff and students.

As distance and easy access to the city centre is often an element in engaging low socioeconomic status groups, HEPP funding is used to provide transport to allow participants to access the programs. An element of the program always involves engagement with the University-either its campuses, staff or students, or a combination of the three.

As the University’s North Terrace campus is located in the cultural precinct of the city centre, it is also easy to involve many of the CU validated Public Learning Destinations as part of the program. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement, as many of these organisations also wish to have greater engagement with visitors from areas of economic disadvantage.

The development of the holiday program has been carefully managed. Each new element of the program has been piloted in order to gauge its suitability. Many of the individual elements of the program are able to be used independently and mixed and matched to create custom made programs suited to a particular theme, group or venue.

In order to address duty of care issues, the school holiday program has always been offered to a school group, accompanied on site by school staff in a similar way to a term time excursion. This has made coordination of the programs more straight forward too. CUA staff are then able to facilitate the program whilst school staff are responsible for supervision and pastoral care.

Each individual day of the program lasts from 10am-2pm, giving participating students four hours credit in their Passports to Learning.

Each individual element of the school holiday program has a completed Record of Validation and can be broadly classified as follows: University of Adelaide Lecture Series, University of Adelaide workshops, University of Adelaide Tours and Trails and Public Learning Destination Activities.

UoA Lecture Series

Lectures are prepared and presented by a range of UoA staff and students from many different faculties. Often the presenters are Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students. CUA members are able to experience a university style lecture, in one of the University’s lecture theatres. Just some of the many topics covered are:

  • ‘Would you like a Ham-bug-er?’ –an exploration of food sustainability, devised and delivered by PhD student Noby Leong (Faculty of Sciences)
  • ‘Native Plants’-discovering how indigenous plants can be developed to aid food sustainability, devised and delivered by Dr Carolyn Schulz, School of Agriculture
  • ‘Skeletons Alive!’ –how bones and muscles work, devised and delivered by Clare Jones, PhD student Faculty of Health Sciences.
  • ‘Fossil Finders’- palaeontology and Naracoorte Caves- Dr Liz Reed, School of Physical Sciences.

In 2016 a lecture series was piloted with the cooperation of partner organisations. Lectures were delivered by UoA staff in a range of locations offered by partner councils as part of their school holiday programming. These lectures are open to all and are promoted by the partner organisation and on the CU website, and the venues selected to give good geographical coverage for CUA member schools.

During the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, lectures were delivered on line through Facebook, the CUA YouTube channel and the CU website. These included:

  • A series of science lectures with CU Adelaide’s own Dr Luca, covering topics such as: Cookie Chemistry and Marvellous Mutations
  • A seven part series teaching Chinese calligraphy hosted by UoA student Jayee
  • Book readings from Public Learning Destination partner Alys Jackson featuring ‘This Land Belongs to Me’ and ‘A Possum stole my Underpants’

UoA Workshops

As with CU lectures, workshops are devised and delivered by members of the UoA community, again, many presenters are PhD students. The workshops are designed to give CU members a similar experience to the small group sessions held at the University and involve hands on activities. Varied workshops delivered include:

  • Urrbrae House School Program- experiential program delivered by staff and volunteers at UoA’s Urrbrae House allowing CU members to discover first-hand what life was like in 1892
  • CSI Adelaide’– devised and delivered by staff and PHD students of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA based at UoA
  • ‘Philosophy for Kids’- devised and delivered by Karen Bland PHD candidate, UOA Faculty of Arts
  • ‘Kids Navigate Neuroscience’- devised and delivered by Dr Lyndsey Collins-Praino, Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, School of Medicine, UoA
  • Creative Music Workshop delivered by Julian Ferraretto: Open Music Academy
  • Global IQ workshops hosted by UoA international students

UoA Trails and Tours

In order to encourage CU members to explore the University campuses, a range of trails and tours are used as part of the school holiday program:

  • Compass on Campus – an interactive tour of the North Terrace campus available to all CU members
  • Garden of Discovery – based at the Waite campus, specifically designed for the CU school holiday program by CU staff
  • Vet School – based at the Roseworthy campus, specifically designed for the CU school holiday program by CU staff
  • ‘Touchstones’ Trail of North Terrace designed by South Australian School for Vision Impaired students in partnership with History SA

See the Touchstones trail here:

Public Learning Destination Activities

Many validated Public Learning Destination activities are included as part of the school holiday program, particularly those closely located to the University campuses. Some of these activities are already in existence and some are devised specifically for CU. Public Learning Destinations and activities include:

  • SA Museum – regular program
  • Migration Museum – regular program and bespoke programs
  • Art Gallery of SA – regular program
  • Adelaide Zoo – bespoke program and keeper talks
  • National Trust of SA – bespoke and regular programs
  • Urrbrae Wetlands – regular program
  • TAFE Regency Park – ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ holiday program
  • Women’s and Children’s Hospital – bespoke Kids Klub activity and tour
  • Renewal SA bespoke tour and workshop

Participation (as of July 2020)

  • Total attendees for all programs: 2717
  • Total hours of CUA learning: 7426
  • 21 target schools involved (many with multiple engagements), including 4 regional schools
  • 19 libraries (or community organisations) involved, many with multiple engagements, including five regional centres