Never Stand Still
years Celebrating 10 years working with our partner schools
You just need to know where to look.
Changing lives by degrees
Australiaâ€™s most precious resources lie in classrooms around the country. Academic talent can be found in the most unexpected places.
verb (intransitive) direct one’s hopes or ambitions towards achieving something.
“we never thought that we might aspire to those heights” English Oxford Living Dictionary
An award winning outreach program that helps position a university education within the reach of school students in communities where the number of students who go on to university is traditionally low.
For more information about ASPIRE please contact: Dr Ann Jardine, Director, ASPIRE T: 02 9385 1989 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: aspire.unsw.edu.au
Message from UNSW’s President and Vice-Chancellor
From the Director’s Chair
Snapshot of ASPIRE
ASPIRE’s Formula for Success
It All Starts With a Teddy Bear
Year 10 Connect
Taster Day: Dubbo
Our ASPIRE Ambassadors are Turning Lives Around
When Special Guests Drop In
On the Road with ASPIRE
ASPIRE Teachers’ Toolkit
In the Pipeline
Stories about ASPIRE
A Big Thank You
This year I had the privilege of visiting seven of ASPIRE’s regional and remote partner schools with Dr Ann Jardine, the Director of ASPIRE. I was accompanied by Peter Noble, UNSW’s Chief of Staff and Shahina Mohamed, Operations Director and together we travelled nearly 1,000 kilometres over four days. We drove from Dubbo up to Walgett and Lightning Ridge, across to Coonamble, Binnaway, Dunedoo, Coolah and on to Mendooran. It was an eyeopening experience for us all and one that gave us a first-hand insight and new perspective into the challenges and rewards that many regional Australian schools face today.
This visit demonstrated to me the immense importance of the ASPIRE program as a leading example of the important role that universities can play in helping and supporting schools and pupils in raising student aspirations so that they can embrace the rewards of further education. In my discussions with students and teachers I was concerned to hear about the challenges many of the students faced, but also inspired by the steps being taken to try and overcome them. The conversations and interactions with the students left me in no doubt about how much ASPIRE is valued and appreciated and enables so many students to realise their great potential. One memorable occasion was the privilege of officiating at the ASPIRE graduation ceremony for Kindergarten students and presenting each one with their UNSW testamurs. I was uplifted by the
excitement in the eyes of the students and the future potential it represents. It seems that it is never too young to grasp an appreciation of the marvellous sense of achievement the gift of a university education can bring! It was also heartening to hear in one-on-one conversations with a range of students, how ASPIRE has given them a sense of purpose about their school studies and where a university education could take them. The program, with its innovative workshops, events and visits to UNSW, has opened their eyes to a bigger world. Through their participation in ASPIRE, many students have been given a sense of hope for their future and realise that they have many more options open to them than they previously thought possible or knew existed. Now more than ever the evidence is clear that through programs like ASPIRE, universities have a duty to reach out to schools and students experiencing educational disadvantage in a country as affluent as Australia. We all need to ensure that every student is given the resources and opportunities to reap the benefits of further education, no matter where they live, or what university they choose to go to. That is why UNSW is so proud of the work ASPIRE has done and continues to do in its partner schools.
Professor Ian Jacobs
President and Vice-Chancellor UNSW Australia
Message from UNSW’s President and Vice-Chancellor
Each school sits within a unique community and all are dealing with myriad social and economic issues, as well as isolation and the dire consequences that drought and flood can bring. But despite these challenges, certain common elements shone through the schools we visited. I was struck by the passion and dedication from all the teachers we spoke to and the strong and compassionate leadership of the school principals. Each school takes very seriously the responsibility they have of ensuring that the students within their care today receive the support and education they need to thrive in the world of tomorrow.
From the Director’s Chair It all began back in 2006 with a kernel of an idea, a strong belief in the transformative power of education and of course a little bit of funding! We didn’t realise it at the time but ASPIRE was a pioneering program. Before the reports of Bradley and Gonski, and everything that has flowed from them since, ASPIRE was already reaching out to two schools in communities where progressing to university was not the norm. We invited their Year 10 students onto a G08 campus for a workshop and a tour of a place they had never been to or knew existed. And the rest, as they say, is history. From that one event, we are now hosting more than 300 workshops and events and engaging with 56 schools and over 7,000 students every year across Sydney and regional NSW. As the program has grown and developed it has become more evident that there is a real need for the work we do. Lifting aspirations in students who are experiencing educational disadvantage benefits the whole of society in the long term. Our work is changing lives and shifting mindsets and enabling young people to realise their future potential. For those of us with a degree, it is easy to take for granted the opportunities and benefits it can bring. It is even more common to take for granted the forces surrounding us during our school life that helped
propel us towards university study. Access to opportunity, information, role models, support and family encouragement all play a role in an individual’s journey to university. For students and families without that access, or without those experiences, the journey to higher education is made even more difficult. Academic achievement is as much about circumstance and aspiration as it is about intelligence. The opportunity to go to university should not depend on personal circumstances. By reflecting more on what they are good for in society rather than what they are good at, universities can play a much greater role in helping to build bridges over the barriers many students in disadvantaged communities face. The ASPIRE program has been constructed from an evidence base, using a sustained and longitudinal approach to address the issues that prevent more academically capable students in our communities from pursuing a university education. ASPIRE has stepped in and given our students the opportunities, experiences, support and access to role models and information they require to make informed choices about their future. We know there are no quick fixes to long term entrenched disadvantage. That’s why ASPIRE starts working with children from an early age and keeps working with them over many years. Encouragingly, we are seeing the attitudes
towards a university education become more positive and the number of students from our schools receiving offers to university grow significantly. I strongly believe that a university education is something that should be available to everyone with the academic potential to succeed. The work of ASPIRE would not be possible without the commitment and support of our schools and teachers. It would also not be possible without the financial support we have received from the Federal Government, and corporate and individual donations. Most important has been the support of UNSW not least in enabling the growth of a program that benefits society rather than the university. It has been a privilege to be involved in ASPIRE since its inception. Along the way I have met amazing students and worked with enormously dedicated teachers across NSW. I am immensely proud of what ASPIRE has achieved and the great work and dedication of my team. But our job is not done. The real benefits of ASPIRE are yet to be fully realised as more of our students seek a university education. I look forward to the program growing from strength to strength across the next ten years.
Dr Ann Jardine Director, ASPIRE
I’m sometimes asked how ASPIRE started.
Our program in one year
56 7,150 4,800 13 300 190
Recognition ASPIRE has won two national awards for educational excellence.
Australian Rural Education Award (AREA) in recognition of excellence in rural education in Australia.
partner schools across metro and regional NSW
AREA is an initiative of the Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia (SPERA). SPERA began in 1983 and is dedicated to the maintenance and development of educational opportunities in rural communities in Australia.
students have contact with ASPIRE
Office for Learning & Teaching Award for Programs that Enhance Learning.
students attended 240 in-school workshops on-campus events brought 700 students on campus regional students attended 4 residential programs student Ambassadors donated 2,200 hours
Dr Ann Jardine has led submissions that have won $7.5 million in competitive external funds from the Federal Government and the corporate world.
Our results From 2010 to 2016 there has been a 120% increase in university offers to ASPIRE students
1,070 offers to university 70 offers to UNSW
Snapshot of ASPIRE
Our metro partner schools School
Year Joined ASPIRE
Dulwich Hill HIgh School
Chester Hill North Public School
Marrickville High School
Granville South Creative and Performing Arts High School
JJ Cahill Memorial High School
Granville South Public School
Matraville Sports High School
Alexandria Park Community School
Auburn Girls High School
Birrong Boys High School
Bankstown Girls High School
Chester Hill Public School
Bass High School
Belmore Boys High School
Gardeners Road Public School
Birrong Girls High School
Granville Boys High School
Guildford Public School
Holroyd High School
James Meehan High School
La Perouse Public School
Old Guildford Public School
Wiley Park Girls High School
Strathfield South High School
Matraville Soldiers Settlement Public School
Chester Hill High School
Year Joined ASPIRE
Our regional partner schools School
Year Joined ASPIRE
Condobolin High School
Gilgandra Public School
Lake Cargelligo Central School
Gulargambone Central School
Quandialla Central School
Lightning Ridge Central School
Tullibigeal Central School
Saint Francis Xavier Lake Cargelligo
Ungarie Central School
Walgett Community College
Baradine Central School
Binnaway Central School
Bribbaree Public School
Coonamble High School
Caragabal Public School
Coonamble Public School
Coolah Central School
Dunedoo Central School
Marra Creek Public School
Carinda Public School
Mendooran Central School
Condobolin Public School
Quambone Public School
Coonabarabran High School
Sacred Heart Primary School Coolah
Euabalong West Public School
St John's Primary School Baradine
Gilgandra High School
St Michael's Primary School Dunedoo
Year Joined ASPIRE
ATTAINMENT The ASPIRE program is based on the latest research into helping students from disadvantaged communities achieve a university education. It focuses on creating awareness about university, enabling aspiration and raising student attainment so they are able to pursue higher education. The program is structured within a framework of learning that corresponds with the studentâ€™s school-life cycle. Each year the experiences students gain, build on those of the previous year. Over time, the continuous reinforcement of key messages about going to university gives students the insight to realise they do have academic ability and could do well at university. ASPIRE helps build their motivation and confidence to get them there.
ASPIREâ€™s formula for success: Start early
Open up the uni campus
The earlier children are involved in conversations about their future, the more chance there is of them being able to make it a reality when they get older.
Becoming comfortable and familiar with the university campus through regular visits gives students an understanding about what goes on there. Over time they can start to see themselves at university and set their sights on going.
Maintain contact Regular engagement through a series of age-appropriate activities about going to university has a greater impact than a one-off event or visit.
Ignite imagination Students need to have the opportunity to realise their own academic potential. ASPIRE workshops and experiences are designed to help them discover their own strengths and that there may be a degree that enables them to foster their passions and interests.
Build confidence Lack of confidence crushes aspiration. Support and encouragement gives students the hope they need to achieve beyond their expectations.
Engage the whole community In communities where the number of students who go to university is low, it is essential to establish lasting relationships to create a groundswell of support for student aspirations. Giving opportunities for the community to engage and interact with the university helps break down social barriers.
Dispel myths Information is a key to unlocking the fear of the unknown. Helping more people realise that universities are open to anyone with academic ability regardless of their personal or financial circumstances increases the likelihood of future participation.
Be patient Shifting mindsets to create generational change takes time. Working with students from Kindergarten to Year 12 involves a 13 year commitment. Life can get in the way of the best laid plans to pursue higher education after school. While individual journeys to university may take many paths, those who reach the destination bring many benefits to society as a whole, no matter when the journey starts.
Our program starts in Kindergarten and progresses through to Year 12.
We work with 56 partner schools in diverse communities across Sydney and regional and remote NSW.
Our furthest school is Lightning Ridge Central School – 737kms from UNSW.
Our closest school is Matraville Sports High School – 6.9kms from UNSW.
Some of the schools we have worked with reside in the most educationally disadvantaged communities in NSW.
Approximate distance from Sydney Baradine 511kms Binnaway 436kms
Carinda 660kms Condobolin 460kms Coolah 370kms Coonabarabran 460kms Coonamble 540kms Dunedoo 357kms Euabalong West
Gilgandra 445kms Gulargambone 495kms Lake Cargelligo
Mendooran 390kms Quambone 590kms Tullibigeal 563kms Ungarie 530kms Walgett 660kms
Team ASPIRE, headed by Dr Ann Jardine, is a group of enthusiastic and diverse professionals who are passionate about what they do: helping students overcome educational disadvantage so that they can discover, navigate and pursue a pathway to university education.
Anyone can do what we do... In-school workshops On-campus events Residential programs Subject-specific days Workplace visits Community events Develop online material Provide information
but itâ€™s how we do it that makes ASPIRE uniqueâ€Ś 31
The ASPIRE team travel more than 90,000kms each year to visit all our partner schools across NSW.
It all starts with a teddy bearâ€¦
“I can still remember the first time ASPIRE
came to Ungarie Central School. It must be about six years ago, when I was in Kindergarten. We did this workshop talking about going to university and I remember dressing up in a graduation gown and receiving a certificate from the University of New South Wales. The best thing was getting an ASPIRE graduation bear to take home,” said Abby. Abby’s mum Alison recalls how her daughter came home from school and thought it was the coolest thing in the world that she’d got to dress up in a graduation gown, make a mortarboard and put it on. “After dinner, Abby called me into her bedroom. On her bed she’d lined up all her stuffed toys including the graduation bear. She’d found all her sport medallions and she ‘graduated’ her stuffed toys. That kind of amazed me because she’d never heard the word ‘graduation’ before.
Ungarie Central School Kindergarten ASPIRE Graduating Class of 2010 2016 – Ab
mum y and her
“She still has that bear. Actually, I think most of the Ungarie kids still have their bears…”
“So here was a whole new concept to her and she wanted to know when I’d graduated and did I have a photo and had I worn all that gear. We ended up having this great chat about what I had done, what her grandfather had done and that graduating from university was something that was possible for her to do.
In-school workshops In primary school, we begin with games, puzzles, drawing, and stories to start the students thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. Dream big we tell them. You can be anything you want to be. Suddenly we have a room full of firemen, teachers, soldiers, café owners, policemen, hairdressers, mechanics, nurses, vets, astronauts, farmers, scientists and a few ‘don’t knows’.
Our high school workshops continue to build student confidence to inspire a belief in themselves and their academic abilities. A major turning point is when they realise that every individual has strengths, passions and skills that can lead to studying at university. For students keen to go to university, the program tailors to more specific information such as how to apply for uni, where to find scholarships, financial support and improving study skills.
Then we plant an idea. “Did you know that going to university could be one way to achieve your dream?”
Never underestimate the power of experiencing something for yourself. Spending time on campus is an essential part of believing itâ€™s the place where you want to go and where you belong.
To give students a first-hand experience of university life, we run a range of events for specific year groups. For many it may be their first time on campus. The activities and workshops help students in Years 8, 9 and 10 broaden their knowledge about what a university can offer. Each year students experience something different. Every time they participate in an ASPIRE event, students get to know a little bit more about university and a little bit more about what they are capable of achieving.
Year 10 Connect
Our Year 10 Connect event aims to help our students answer that question. We bring together students from all our regional and metro partner schools for a three-day program to show how school subjects, degrees and future careers are all linked. The Faculty workshops on campus demonstrate how the subjects they study at school relate to what they could study at university. A day spent visiting city workplaces and talking to employees gives the students a greater understanding of the benefits of higher education. They see for themselves how a degree can open up many more career paths.
There are moments in every student’s life when they ask “what’s the point of school?”
To help with their subject choices for Year 10, Taster Day gives Year 9 students an introduction to the types of career paths universities can offer. Students choose three areas of interest. Professionals, and UNSW staff and students host a series of hands-on workshops such as medicine, science, the arts, engineering and business. Learning and fun combine and soon students are extracting DNA from fruit, plastering broken arms, expressing themselves in art, mastering the art of film making, building a solar car, or pitching an original business proposal.
Taster Day: Dubbo
Bringing the uni experience closer to home makes it easier for our regional students to participate in more ASPIRE events. During the year, we hold some key events in the central west city of Dubbo.
One of the major barriers to higher education that regional students face is grappling with the idea of leaving their home town to work or study.
Traffic lights, escalators, public transport, exotic food, surfing, overnight accommodation without family and seeing the Harbour Bridge can all be amazing first-time experiences. Added to that is a day spent on campus mixing with our metro students at the Uni for a Day event. ASPIRE residentials for our regional students create life-changing experiences. Students start to see that they are capable of living away from home to go to uni and that making new friends from all walks of life is easier than they thought.
ASPIREâ€™s Sydney residential programs for Years 8 and 10 are designed to help students be brave and grab opportunities. In Year 8 students go Beyond the Gate and Year 10 students Connect as part of week-long residential programs that combine time on campus with some of the fun activities a big city can offer.
ASPIRE is always looking for new and exciting opportunities to broaden the horizons of our students. Three Minute Thesis The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition is a great opportunity for school students to see a different side of university study they may not be familiar with. Having spent years on intensive research, UNSW PhD and Research Masters candidates compete to explain their research topic to a wide audience in just three minutes. As one of the official judging panels, a group of ASPIRE Year 10 students award a $500 prize to the candidate they think gave the most engaging and informative presentation. 3MT immerses students into the fascinating world of research, and how some of the presentations could one day have a global impact.
ASPIRE Homework Centre – Condobolin
Luminocity is a showcase of projects by UNSW students studying Built Environment degrees. Built Environment involves the creative planning, design and construction of spaces and environments where people live and work. ASPIRE students studying subjects at school that show an interest in design and construction industries are invited to view the exhibition. They also learn more about the world-class courses on offer and the exciting jobs and careers available in designing and building the future.
The ASPIRE Homework Centre is a joint initiative of ASPIRE and Western Plains Regional Development to provide local students with resources and space so they complete their homework in a supportive environment and improve their study skills.
Design Thinking Students work in small teams on a real-world design challenge. Using a creative approach, they are encouraged to expand their thinking outside the box to solve problems. Soon they discover that tackling issues can be fun and often the best solutions come from many ideas generated from different perspectives. After each team comes up with its innovative solution, students present their ideas to the class.
Yes We Can! Centennial Parklands Foundation Our joint initiative with Centennial Parklands Foundation brings primary school students into close contact with the diverse careers involved in managing ecosystems. Sydney’s Centennial Park is an ideal outdoor classroom to discover more about the environmental sciences and geography.
ASPIRE has developed a program especially for students in our partner schools from African backgrounds to help them find out more about the educational opportunities available in Australia. The program consists of three in-school workshops and a visit to UNSW. Many students haven’t thought about going to university and lack confidence in their academic ability. Other students may not have anyone in their family who has been to university, or family members who know how to support their aspirations. Yes We Can! is a great opportunity for students to learn more about themselves, university and the different career paths a degree can offer.
University is not the right choice for everyone. But the decision about whether to go must be an informed choice, not one imposed because of lack of information or opportunity.
With money won from the Federal Government’s National Priorities Pool, ASPIRE has taken an innovative “grass roots” approach to community engagement. We have embedded two ASPIRE Project Officers in the Sydney suburbs of Macquarie Fields and Chester Hill. The ASPIRE Community Hub is creating stronger connections between schools, students, parents, carers and local organisations to build a greater awareness of higher education and to foster a common goal of encouraging and supporting student aspirations.
Our ASPIRE Ambassadors are turning lives around Our ASPIRE Ambassadors are a driving force in the ongoing success of the program. They engage our students in workshops held in schools, on campus and at specific events. As current UNSW students, the Ambassadors are very popular with the students and enjoy sharing their stories about university life. Over the years, hundreds of Ambassadors have given their enthusiasm and free time to support the program. We have over 190 active Ambassadors volunteering more than 2,100 hours annually.
Some Ambassadors go above and beyond and keep coming back each semester to participate in more events and workshops. They genuinely love working with the school students, getting to know them and are keen to help them discover university.
When special guests drop in Whiteboards, post-it notes and team discussions generated a sea of solutions to both local and world problems. Year 10 students were happy to share their ideas with NSW’s Premier, Mike Baird when he visited them during a Design Thinking workshop. The Premier in turn was keen to encourage the students to think more about university and believe that they could achieve much more than they think they can.
UNSW’s Chancellor, David Gonski has been a long-time friend of ASPIRE. Generous with his time and public support, Mr Gonski took time out to chat to students and welcomed them to UNSW’s Three Minute Thesis competition.
On the road with ASPIRE
UNSW’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs went on the road with ASPIRE accompanied by Peter Noble, UNSW’s Chief of Staff and Shahina Mohamed, Operations Director. With ASPIRE’s Director, Dr Ann Jardine as tour leader, the group met with students, staff and principals from seven ASPIRE regional partner schools. Our schools warmly welcomed the visitors as it was the first time for most of them that a university Vice-Chancellor had taken the time to drop by. Staff and students were keen to talk about their positive association with ASPIRE and its impact on raising student aspirations.
We are continually looking for ways to build upon ASPIRE’s learning framework. There are a variety of innovative projects under development to provide students and teachers with more tools, skills and resources to respond to a rapidly changing learning environment.
We’re having great success (and fun!) with our computer literacy project launched in 2016 with funds from the Federal Government’s National Priorities Pool. The project aims to build teacher computer literacies and assist them in incorporating coding and computational thinking into their teaching. The importance of coding has been recognised in the national curriculum where digital technologies are now an acknowledged learning area from Kindergarten onwards. Computer literacy plays an essential part in not only accessing information, but also in keeping up with the latest developments in the fields of science and mathematics. Teachers involved in the program who have taken their coding training into their classrooms have been stunned by how fast their students are picking up mathematical processing – and having fun with maths at the same time.
Read with Me
Read With Me aims to improve the literacy levels of Year 2 regional students.
We’re developing more online resources for teachers, students, parents and carers to make information about university more accessible for all.
We’re inviting UNSW staff to become our first Reading Mentors so they have the opportunity to be more involved with the ASPIRE program and as a result, play an active role in the university’s education equality strategy. On average, reading levels of regional students are 2 ½ years behind their peers. Read With Me is an innovative way universities can engage with young students and play a role in helping schools close the literacy gap. Data from the project will form part of a research initiative into whether online reading support is effective in achieving literacy improvement.
The Classroom to Career website brings together information available about higher education, different pathways to university, career options, support to improve wellbeing and teaching resources all in the one site. The site saves career advisers, parents, carers and students the time and stress of wading through a sea of information online. PAThS for Learning is an interactive webbased program to encourage school students to become more resourceful, resilient and reflective in their approach to learning. These ‘three Rs’ have been identified as important building blocks to help students sustain their academic ability throughout their school years and beyond. The website provides fun activities the students work through at different levels of skill. Teachers can monitor their students’ progress to ascertain the areas where students excel or may need extra assistance to persevere with tasks so that they can become more confident, independent learners in the future. Visit: paths.unsw.edu.au
We’re connecting them with a trained Reading Mentor via the internet who will regularly listen to them reading aloud.
ASPIRE Teachers’ Toolkit
The toolkit is an online resource and is based on ASPIRE’s face-to-face workshops. It provides teachers with readily accessible lesson plans and activities so they can continue to work with their students more frequently and build on the work already started from the ASPIRE team’s visit.
Thanks to more than $648,000 of additional funding we won in the Federal Government’s National Partnership Pool, we will be developing four new projects to further extend the program’s impact in regional and remote areas.
We’ll be trialling a regional version of the ASPIRE Community Hub. Two university graduates will be placed in a rural community as ASPIRE Project Officers working directly with a cluster of our partner schools. This will enable us to increase contact with our schools and allow the program to have greater impact on the students and within the community.
Uni in a Ute We’ll be targeting our regional Year 11 students with a more intensive program to better prepare them for HSC and university study. The focus will be on providing practical study skills and information to enable them to successfully complete their final years of schooling and transition into university.
Building our evidence base Research is the key to ensuring that government policy and university practices are on track to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds participating in higher education. Funds for two research projects will enable us to conduct further research into widening participation in higher education in Australia. Conducting our own research is an important part of our evidence-based approach. The outcomes of the research will provide valuable information for government agencies and for practitioners developing new widening participation strategies. The Mind the Gap research project will investigate whether Australian university widening participation initiatives are addressing the attainment gap that exists for students in educationally disadvantaged communities in regional and remote areas. Power of Perception will help identify key elements that shape regional and remote students’ aspirations and perceptions regarding access to university.
In the pipeline
Stories about ASPIRE “I came to Australia in 2011. I’m from a non-English speaking background. When ASPIRE came to our school I hadn’t heard of them. Our teachers used to tell us that they are from university and they are here to tell you how the university goes and what university life is.
I decided to be an ASPIRE Ambassador because I know from personal experience what they are doing and I really like it – helping out kids and trying to motivate them to come to university. And I want to be one of them to help other kids. What ASPIRE did for me, I want to pass it on to other kids.”
Mining Engineering student UNSW
“Canterbury Boys High School is immensely grateful and proud of our long standing partnership with ASPIRE.
university ambassadors who are crucial to the success and impact of the program on our students.
This partnership has grown from strength to strength over the years since we joined in 2009, and is highly regarded by the school community as an invaluable program. As a result of the program there has been an increase in the number of students developing career aspirations, considering university as a future option and gaining entry into university. This trend is reflected in our post school destination data and individual student career plans, since program inception.
Furthermore, over the years ASPIRE staff have also made themselves available to attend our annual Cantervale celebration, parent information sessions, camps, open days, staff presentations and our annual presentation evenings for which we are very appreciative.
Through the wonderful myriad of programs offered, our students are placed in an advantageous position in terms of making decisions about what they want their future to look like and setting future career goals. We would like to thank ASPIRE for playing an instrumental role in encouraging our students to think about their future, develop aspirations and awareness of future career options through its innovative and engaging programs. Of course this would not be possible without ASPIRE’s committed and enthusiastic staff, and
As Careers Adviser, a major highlight of the ASPIRE program is watching students get excited about the idea of going to university in the future, and connecting with ASPIRE Ambassadors. A truly eye-opening experience for students, demystifying university and enabling them to consider possible what might have seemed impossible or unattainable!”
Careers Adviser Canterbury Boys High School
ASPIRE strengthened my base. ASPIRE made me that person that I am right now. When I was in school I had no idea what’s going on in university because I haven’t been to any university, not in here, not back in my country. ASPIRE really told me what the university was going to be like. That really helped my way through high school and then to university and now I’m working with ASPIRE. I’m learning even more with them now. I haven’t stopped learning. I’m learning and I’m trying to give back to ASPIRE now. So ASPIRE is playing a great role in my future and I’m hoping they will in the future as well.
“ASPIRE’s involvement with our students over the last four years has resulted in university becoming a more familiar and relatable educational setting for the students, when they consider their post-school options. Many students have moved from an attitude of ‘university happens to other people’, to a belief that it could ‘happen’ to them if they put effort into their schoolwork.
“The ASPIRE program has been running for many years now at our school and there has been a definite shift in lifting the profile of higher education and students’ attitudes towards it. Evidence of this has been in the increase in the percentage of students applying and accessing university over the years at the school even when a change in student numbers is factored in.”
ASPIRE’s programs have had a twofold effect on our students. The students in recent years seem to better understand the relationship between school results, their ATAR and the course requirements, including ATAR requirements, of various university courses.
The students have also developed a more detailed understanding of the academic expectations attached to many university courses. Details such as the difference between coursework and exams, lectures and tutorials, have helped our students feel more prepared for studying at university.
Careers Adviser JJ Cahill Memorial High School
ASPIRE’S programs have stimulated and engaged our students at critical points during their high school years; this has provided an extra source of motivation to sustain them through their HSC studies.
(l-r) Gail Taylor, former Principal of James Meehan High School, Dr Ann Jardine and Lesleigh Russell
Senior Study Centre Coordinator James Meehan High School
Science Teacher Lightning Ridge Central School
“Lightning Ridge is very isolated with the nearest main town, Dubbo, being four hours away by car. This often leaves our students with a distorted perception of the world placing little value on education, however over the past two years I have noticed that students are starting to express interest in leaving town after school to attend university. I feel that ASPIRE in particular has been instrumental in this shift as the students look forward to the trips and the visits. I feel like they are starting to grasp the opportunity that these events provide them with.”
Just as ASPIRE’s programs have helped students and their families address barriers to attending university, our staff have developed a better understanding of how these barriers can be overcome. With the right support, university is possible for our students. If the playing field can be levelled, our efforts will have more effect on student achievement. This is an incredibly powerful and motivating factor for teachers of students from low socio-economic backgrounds.”
“I grew up in the small town of Mendooran, NSW. I went to school there throughout my secondary years. During this time, I gained many opportunities from the school itself. One in particular was being granted the experience of participating in the ‘ASPIRE’ program. Due to being brought up in a smaller school environment with fewer access to cities nearby with universities, when given this opportunity, I was extremely eager to partake in the program.
I believe the ASPIRE program is extremely beneficial to any student who is fortunate enough to participate in it. It enforces a positive perspective on universities. Individuals are able to make decisions based on prior experience from visiting a university. The importance of this is extremely valid as these decisions are what dictate one’s future career.”
Amelia Washbrook Former Mendooran Central School student Currently studying Bachelor of Education Science, majoring in Agriculture University of New England
Former Auburn Girls High School student Currently studying Bachelor of Exercise Physiology UNSW
Amelia and Shaylah enjoying ASPIRE’s Step UP residential event in Sydney.
“In 2013 I went to Sydney for the ASPIRE Step UP program. We spent time at the university and stayed at the Youth Hostel at Central Railway Station. They showed us what lectures were like… It made me set my mind on going to Uni, but a country (regional) university. It made me want to go to the University of New England and Charles Sturt Wagga Wagga open days. I am now in my second year of a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Zoology. I have found a “family” at Earle Page College at Armidale. This should qualify me to work in parks or zoos and should enable me to travel the world. I can thank the ASPIRE program for that.”
Former Mendooran Central School student Currently studying a Bachelor of Science University of New England
“There was this spark in their eyes and I know some of them went home and told their parents that they have these ideas where they can go with their university aspiration. So I think it’s an amazing program and especially for students whose backgrounds are not always as wealthy or as fortunate as some other students. Especially students from refugee backgrounds who would never have any idea of being safe and in a secure environment, let alone the opportunity of going to university. And that opportunity is given by ASPIRE and the programs that are offered.”
Deputy Principal Chester Hill High School
The trip itself was very enjoyable and opened up a lot of doors for me. I already knew what my passion was (teaching) however the ASPIRE program allowed me to make educated comparisons about my degree/ career choice. It was wonderful to observe and partially experience the way of ‘university life’ in all aspects, socially and academically. Myself and fellow peers were granted a tour around the university itself which included workshops, lectures and seminars. From this, I was able to appreciate the content of what university involves. This influenced me to go ahead with my decision to attend university. Although some lectures etc were daunting to experience at first, the academic side of UNSW encouraged me to thrive in my passion for learning.
“Since I was about in Year 10, they (ASPIRE) were coming into my school for regular activities to tell us about the opportunities and the pathways to uni. I didn’t really realise the importance of that until I got to Year 12 and I started looking at UNSW as a prospective place I wanted to study at. So ASPIRE really did have a strong role by giving us the pathways telling us where to go... you just had someone who came from the university to tell you about what’s going on and how to get there.”
A big thank you! To all our students, teachers, principals, UNSW faculties, staff and students, ASPIRE Ambassadors, parents and carers, communities, organisations, businesses and supporters of ASPIRE.
Thank you all for being part of the ASPIRE story.
We would also like to sincerely thank the Federal Government, Citi Foundation, Google and the individual donors who have made a generous financial investment in ASPIRE that has enabled us to keep changing lives by degrees.
Changing lives by degrees
Published on Dec 20, 2016
ASPIRE, UNSW's premier outreach program, celebrates 10 years working in schools in disadvantaged communities across Sydney and NSW helping...