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UCL Year 12 Summer Schools 2022

By Lauren Sandhu, on 17 February 2022

Year 12 students at UCL summer schoolApplications are now open for our free Year 12 Sutton Trust Summer Schools.

This year we will be running our summer schools both online and in person (at UCL) during July and August 2022 in partnership with The Sutton Trust.

We will begin by delivering an exciting mix of online sessions over the first two days of the summer school. Then, we will welcome you to UCL the next week for a range of sessions with UCL staff and students.

You can expect to learn more about your chosen subject, take part in social activities and stay overnight in university accommodation.

This summer we are running summer schools n the following subjects:

  • Archaeology
  • Architecture
  • Biosciences
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Economics
  • Fine Art
  • Geography
  • History
  • Languages and Cultures
  • Laws
  • Maths and Computer Science
  • Natural Sciences
  • Physics
  • Psychology and Education

Applications are open until Wednesday 9 March 2022.Year 12 students at UCL Summer School

Would you like to find out more about our Year 12 summer schools before submitting your application? Read about the experiences of people, from across the UK, who attended our summer schools in 2020.

In 2020 we ran our summer schools online-only and this year they will be happening both online and at UCL but you will still learn more about what previous attendees enjoyed the most via the below blog posts.

Sarah – Natural Sciences Summer School 

Natalia – Languages and Cultures Summer School 

Lena – English Summer School 



Helping your young person prepare to start at university

By Lauren Sandhu, on 9 September 2020

This series for parents and carers is written by Karen Roberts our Senior Access Officer for pupil engagement. Karen is a former teacher and has lots of experience working with young people. We will be posting on a regular basis so please check back for more tips and ideas.

So, the time has come.  Your child has finished their schooling and is preparing to start university this Autumn.  We recognise that A Level results day was difficult for many families, but now those young people who found a university place can get ready to move from secondary to Higher Education.  Here, we provide some tips for parents on how you can support your son or daughter as they prepare for the next stage of their education journey.

  1. Find out how your child’s university plans to teach students during the first academic term

At UCL, we have made the decision to offer a mix of teaching methods next term (September-December 2020), with most teaching and learning taking place online and some face-to-face teaching in small groups where possible (see UCL’s statement on our website). Many universities are going to follow a similar approach, but this will vary across the sector so we suggest looking into this for your child’s university if they’re going elsewhere.  At the moment, universities generally do not yet know if there will be more face-to-face teaching in 2021 due to the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19.

In these circumstances, you and your child may decide that it makes most sense for them to live at home for all or part of the year and only travel to campus when they have face-to-face sessions.  Of course, your child may want to live on campus regardless or they may not have a choice about living away from home if their university is too far away to commute to, in which case you will need to choose suitable accommodation (see point 4 below) and we would recommend reminding your child of the key ways to stay safe during this time (see point 2 below).

  1. Make sure your son or daughter is aware of the safety basics

Universities have worked hard to put measures in place to keep students and staff safe in the coming year such as making sure rooms are large enough to allow social distancing, reducing the number of people who come onto campus at any one time and providing more bike racks to make cycling to campus easier.

However, individuals also need to play their part.  So, we suggest reminding your child of the key ways to reduce their risk of Coronavirus infection i.e. staying 2m apart from others where possible, washing their hands frequently, wearing a mask in shops and on public transport and avoiding touching their face.  UCL has produced some advice for students which you may find useful.

  1. Talk to your child about finances

If your child has applied for Student Finance, they should have confirmation by now that their tuition fees will be paid and details of how much maintenance support they can expect to receive for this year.   Once you know how much they’re going to spend on accommodation (see below), then you can talk to them about budgeting and whether or not you will be able to contribute anything towards their living costs while they are university.  Remember to check if they are eligible for any bursaries or scholarships; this is money which your child will not have to pay back! Also discuss with your child whether they feel able to work part time to add to their income while they are studying.

We have included links below to details of the bursaries and scholarships which UCL offers along with some other websites related to student finance which you may find helpful.

  1. Support your child to find suitable accommodation

Your child has three main choices in terms of accommodation while studying at university:

  • Living at home
  • Living in student accommodation (halls of residence)
  • Living in private housing (owned by a private landlord).

If your child is planning to leave home, then you need to check the available accommodation and lockdown restrictions in the university location.  UCAS has lots of useful information on this on their website. If your child is planning to live in university halls of residence, you should be able to obtain information directly from the university on, for example, whether masks will be mandatory in communal areas.

Most halls of residence offer single rooms, with shared kitchen and living spaces.  Many have rooms with a private bathroom and others provide self-contained studios where your child would have their own bathroom and cooking facilities.  Obviously, the more private space your child has, the more expensive the accommodation cost will be. However, many parents like this option for their child’s first year at university because halls offer a secure and comfortable environment with lots of facilities included.  Living in halls could also be a good way for your child to make friends with other new students initially.

Private housing is usually cheaper than halls of residence, particularly if your child chooses to share with other students and it means they will live in a ‘normal’ house.  If your child has decided to live in private accommodation, UCL has prepared some advice which may help even if your child is going to a different university.

  1. Help your child to develop their cooking skills

Living on ready meals and takeaways might be appealing at first, but ultimately it will be cheaper and healthier for your child to learn to cook.  This doesn’t mean they have to become the next Jamie Oliver!  If they don’t already cook at home, then perhaps you could teach them 2-3 simple meals which they can practise by cooking for the family before they go to university.  Even if they are not leaving home to study, this will be a good life skill for your child to develop as they become more independent.

  1. Help your child to get their essential supplies together

UCAS has published a big list of everything your child will need to take to university which you may find useful.  At the very least, your child will need:

  • Towels and toiletries
  • Bedding
  • Some basic kitchen equipment (frying pan, saucepan, mugs, plates, cutlery, a tin and/or bottle opener, sharp knife, wooden spoon, chopping board, something to wash dishes with)

They may also want to take along some home comforts to brighten up their room such as a plant or two and some posters or photos, but they don’t need to go overboard as this will just mean more things to pack when they come home.  Our advice would be to contribute whatever you can from home and only buy essential items new. There will be some things that your child uses at home which they can take with them (such as their bedding) and others which you should be able to buy quite cheaply.  It’s a good idea to find out in advance what is already provided in your child’s student accommodation to avoid unnecessary spending.

Good luck to all of you and to your children who are starting as undergraduates in the next few weeks.  If your child is coming to UCL, we look forward to welcoming them here.  If they haven’t already, they may want to check out our Countdown to UCL which is on our website and available via an app.  You – and they – may be anxious about the new life they are about to begin, but take it from us that you will all get used to it and it will be worthwhile in the end!

Some useful resources related to Student Finance:

Supporting your child as they move from year 11 into sixth form

By Lauren Sandhu, on 7 August 2020

This series for parents and carers is written by Karen Roberts our Senior Access Officer for pupil engagement. Karen is a former teacher and has lots of experience working with young people. We will be posting on a regular basis so please check back for more tips and ideas.

Unfortunately, young people in Year 11 have been among the most disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic as schools were forced to close and GCSE exams were cancelled.  The government has said that young people will be expected to return to education in September so we can only hope that Year 12 will be more stable for your son or daughter.  Here, we provide some tips for parents on how you can help your child to transition to sixth form over the summer and into the next academic year.

First, familiarise yourself with your child’s post-16 options so that you can better support them in deciding what to do after year 11

The main options your child has are:

  • To remain in full time education in school or college
  • To choose an apprenticeship or Traineeship
  • To study or train part time – but this must be in addition to employment, self-employment or volunteering for a minimum of 20 hours a week.

If your child wants to remain in full time education to study A-levels or vocational qualifications, then talk to them about whether they are best suited to staying in a school environment or moving to a sixth form college.  There are pros and cons to each.  In general, a school environment will suit a student who likes more structure, while a sixth form college will suit someone who is a more independent learner.  Staying in school will provide your child with a familiar environment (and with the same teachers if they stay in the same school they attended in Year 11).  Colleges tend to be larger and they tend to offer a broader range of A-level and vocational subjects than schools so your child may have the opportunity to study subjects that are new to them, such as Accounting, Film Studies or Politics.

As an alternative, your child could choose to become an apprentice where they would become a paid employee who studies as part of their job.  At the end, they would gain a nationally recognised qualification, which can be up to degree level.  Apprenticeships help young people develop the skills they need to work in a particular industry.  For further information, click here for the Parent’s Guide to Apprenticeships.

Traineeships, on the other hand, are aimed at young people who are not yet ready to start an apprenticeship because they lack the required skills or experience.  Traineeships are designed to help young people become ‘work ready’.  Find out more on the Government’s website.

Remember that all young people must be in some form of education or training until they are 18.

If your child is disappointed with any of their GCSE grades, don’t be afraid to appeal and/or consider resits

As you know, GCSE grades this year will be based on teacher assessments so your child will receive calculated grades rather than grades based on exam performance.  If your child feels their grade is unfair, then don’t be afraid to speak to their school to see if you can appeal and/or to discuss whether your child will be able to resit their exam(s) in the next school year (likely to be in the autumn of 2020 or summer of 2021).  Many other young people are likely to be in the same position so don’t worry that the teachers will think you’re making a fuss.  These are exceptional circumstances and your child’s school will do their best to help.

Similarly, talk to the sixth form or college your child wants to go to if they have missed the required entry grades

If you child hasn’t quite achieved the required entry grades for the sixth form they want to go to, then it’s worth a conversation with them as they may still be able to offer your child a place.  If the course your child wanted to do is not available, then the college might be able to offer a transfer to a different course or subject or they could recommend other colleges or sixth forms which might suit them.

Support your child to choose A-levels based on what they want to do in the future

If your child has some idea of what they might want to do as a career, then they can use this as a starting point for their A-level choices.  Based on their preferences, you can gather some prospectuses or go onto university websites to check degree requirements; for example, if your child wants to become a Chemical Engineer, then they can look up the A-level subjects needed to get onto a Chemical Engineering degree course at various universities.  You will find that some degrees don’t ask for any specific A-levels (for example, Law) and in that case, see if the university provides a list of preferred A-level subjects as UCL does.  A list like this can also help if your child has no idea what career they might want to go into in the future as it will help them choose subjects that are applicable to a wide range of occupations, such as Maths, English, Business or a Modern Foreign Language.

Be aware that there are jobs which will be in demand when your child graduates that we may not even know about yet!

It is understandable that you might favour the traditional professions such as Law, Medicine and Engineering as these have been seen as the higher paid, higher status careers for generations.  However, the world is changing and we would encourage you not to be dismissive of your child’s career choices if they are more unusual.  For example, there may be new types of health and science jobs emerging to deal with climate change or global public health in light of the current pandemic.  There will undoubtedly be technology-related jobs which we do not know about yet since technology is always evolving.  Just look at what has happened recently with so many people working from home.  This would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago. So, try to be open to your child’s “dream” job even if you have never heard of it before.

Your child has now reached a major milestone in their education.  Having studied a wide range of subjects in school up until now, this is the point where they will start to specialise by focusing on perhaps 3-4 subjects which most interest them.  They may find this challenging, but hopefully they will also find it exciting.  We have prepared some resources to help your son or daughter choose their A-levels.  We also run a number of online events for both young people and parents to help you prepare for university. Once your young person is in Year 12 and potentially thinking about their university options they may find our free UCL Study Prep online module helpful in their preparations.  Please check the Access and Widening Participation section of the UCL website for further details and keep checking this blog for new posts.


Helping your child to transition to year 7 during the current pandemic

By Lauren Sandhu, on 15 June 2020

This series for parents and carers is written by Karen Roberts our Senior Access Officer for pupil engagement. Karen is a former teacher and has lots of experience working with young people. We will be posting on a regular basis so please check back for more tips and ideas as the summer term progresses.

Helping your child to transition to year 7 during the current pandemic

Leaving primary school is a major milestone for young children.  At the end of year 6, they need to prepare to leave a school where they know everyone and where they are the most senior year group, to join a new, unfamiliar environment, where they are the youngest surrounded by much older teenagers.  This can be an overwhelming time for both children and parents/carers.  And this year, there has been the added stress of the Covid-19 pandemic which has closed schools and affected the run-up to ‘big school’ for those joining year 7 in September.

Here, we provide some tips on how you can help your child to transition to secondary school during their last few weeks of primary school and over the summer.

Find ways to help your child say their goodbyes

Whether or not your child has returned to school recently, there are likely to be other children who have not returned and/or school staff who are still shielding or self-isolating.  Consider how your child can say goodbye to the people who are important to them who are not present in school.  Could they send a card to their teacher via the school?  Or send an email to the school’s account?  Or could they talk to absent friends on the phone or via Skype to say goodbye?  Perhaps other parents would be able to put you in touch with any of your child’s friends who you don’t have contact details for?  Saying goodbye can be a way to help your child come to terms with the fact that they are moving from one stage of their education to another.

Walk, cycle or drive the route to the secondary school and take advantage of any virtual school tours that are offered

Your child will have a new school journey to get used to after the summer holidays, so, if you are able to, prepare them for this ahead of time.  You may wish to travel with your child to the new school (avoiding public transport where possible and staying socially distanced from others) so your child can get a taste of what this experience will be like. You won’t be able to go in, but if you have access to the internet, lots of secondary schools are offering virtual tours of the buildings to help children visualise their new surroundings.  Some schools also have Q&As and opportunities to ‘meet the teachers’ online.

Start giving your child more responsibilities at home

At primary school, your child will have spent most of their day with one class teacher and they will be used to following a very fixed schedule.  However, at secondary school, they will move between different teachers and different groups of children each day, they may have a two-week timetable to follow instead of a weekly one and they will need to take responsibility for juggling homework deadlines across a range of subjects. This is a major shift and a big step up for them.  Just making sure they have the right equipment and books for each day can be a challenge.

In preparation, you could try giving your child more responsibility at home so that school becomes an extension of this, rather than a culture shock.  For example, make them responsible for certain chores in the home (such as making their bed, laying or clearing the table) or allow them to help you in the kitchen or on shopping trips. You may also wish to reinforce the rules for crossing the road unaccompanied. These small tasks will help to send the message that they are reaching an age when they will start to become more independent.

Share your own experiences of secondary school with your child

They may be dismissive of this at first, but it could still help to hear that, despite whatever challenges they may face in their new school environment, they will come through it successfully.  Talk about what you enjoyed at secondary school and what you think you got out of it, but don’t be afraid to speak to your child about what you were worried about before you went and how you dealt with this.  You could also ask their older siblings or other family members (such as older cousins) to have this conversation with your child.

Try to help your child see the move to secondary school as an opportunity

Focus on the good points of the change to a new school by talking to your child about all the things they will get to do at secondary school that they couldn’t do while they were in primary.  The list may include:

  • Making new friends
  • Travelling to school on their own
  • Studying new subjects
  • Trying out new clubs and activities
  • Generally becoming more independent.

It may take your child a few weeks to settle in, particularly if they don’t have any friends from primary school at the new school.  Let them know that this is perfectly normal. If there are issues beyond this, make sure you know who to contact at the school if you want to discuss anything.  You may wish to make an appointment to see their form tutor if your child is experiencing any social or educational problems. However, try not to worry too much.  The chances are that your child will enjoy year 7 once they get to know everyone.  Remember that all the children in their year will be going through the same transition.

Some useful resources for parents and carers:

Transition to Secondary: 5 tips for parents – Teacher Toolkit

Preparing Your Child for Year 7 Science – STEM Learning