By Dr Joanna Marchant
Today is my first day at IntoUniversity. After 10 weeks or so training I am going to be helping to set up and lead the new learning centre in Brighton. It is a role which marks a change in direction for me, a change that I am really excited about.
For the last three years I have been teaching undergraduates at a London university which has involved running seminars, lecturing, and lots of coursework marking. It is a job I’ve found both challenging and enjoyable but an earlier experience as a teaching assistant at an inner London school has continued to resonate with me and left me wondering whether I can make a greater contribution elsewhere in the education sector. Most of the children in my Year 2 class came from an economically deprived background, and I was shocked to find some of the pupils were inheriting their parents’ educational disadvantage. One young boy, who was really struggling with his literacy, particularly sticks in my mind because his parents too had difficulties with their reading and writing. Witnessing the connection between economic status and educational attainment first hand has really made me interested in widening participation, an interest compounded by my time working in Higher Education. Here I have been privileged to teach lots of students who too come from disadvantage backgrounds but have found the ambition and talent to pursue further education. Yet I am always left wondering about the young people who haven’t gone this far (and the statistics show there are many), and I am always wondering whether with the right encouragement and support that little boy from Year 2 will go on to achieve his aspirations.
It’s therefore that when I spotted the job advert for IntoUniversity I decided to apply, believing this to be a compelling opportunity to draw on my experience of the Higher Education sector in a way which will hopefully really make a difference to many young people. I can’t wait to get started, meet the Brighton team, and welcome our first primary school class to the new learning centre.