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Students get taste of university research

Was Robin Hood a real person or just a figure of legend?

That was the question posed to A level history students in a joint schools project hosted by The King’s Academy and run by historians from Durham University.

An investigation into the outlaw who was said to steal from the rich and give to the poor was just one of the conundrums tackled by students from The King’s Academy, Yarm School and Hartlepool Sixth Form College.

The other periods they covered included 20th century history and the Glorious Revolution of the 17th century.

The aim of the project is to give A level students an idea of what reading history at university might be like and the chance to meet undergraduates currently studying the subject.

Jo Fox, of Durham University, said:

We bring new research into schools to give students a sense of what historians are doing now and the kind of research that will appear in books and texts in the future; it’s history at the cutting edge.”

The students from the different schools were split into groups with discussions led by an undergraduate.

King’s Academy student Abbie Johnson said:

Robin Hood isn’t a topic we’ve covered before so it’s been interesting exploring that and learning about historical research at the same time as learning about being at university.”

Sally Seaton, also from The King’s, added:

It’s been good to get an impression of life at university from someone who’s going there now. I really want to go but it’s a bit daunting so it’s been really useful to be able to talk to a student.”

Later the students will travel to Durham University to discuss the work done in their groups.

Jenni Yuill, politics teacher at The King’s Academy, added:

It’s given our students and our guests a really good insight into what it’s like to study history at degree level, and to find out about life as a student at university.”

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PSHE Award

An academy has been recognised with a national award for the opportunities it gives young people to explore and share their views on a wide range of topical issues.

The King’s Academy has received an Achievement Award from PSHE For Life, an internationally recognised education resource for teachers and health professionals, for the quality of its teaching and the time it gives students to discuss and debate subjects from war to parenthood, drug abuse to debt.

The academy, in Coulby Newham, devotes every week of the school year to a topical theme which students discuss before lessons begin in daily Tutor Reflections and upon which senior teachers base weekly assemblies.

Andrew Hutchinson, co- founder of PSHE For Life, said:

At The King’s Academy they take large subjects in Tutor Reflections and then allow young people to take these themes and bring the issues to their own circumstances and relate them to what’s happening in their own lives.”

Student Ben Rowden said he thought it was a good thing to encourage informal discussion among young people in the personal, social, health and economic topics that make up PSHE education.

It’s a very fluid subject so it has to be given a fluid way of being taught,” he explained.

Vice principal John Rhodes said the weekly themes provided an important base for PSHE and for preparing students for life outside school.

Our students are very important to us and we want them to love coming to school.

“Our philosophy is to help them achieve their personal best then for them to take their place in society and be confident about what they can offer.”

The story of the Academy’s success can be viewed at