On Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th October the Through the Eyes of Boys Year 11 cohort took part in their first residential visit, travelling all the way to London. 28 students took part in the residental, from North Liverpool Academy, the the Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Kings Leadership Academy, Fazakerley High School and the Academy of St Nicholas, accompanied by University of Liverpool Student Advocates from a range of disciplines and Shaping Futures staff. The residential was focused on trying to build the students confidence and independence, as well as given them new cultural and social experiences; a taster of the kind of experiences university can offer alongside academic study.
The students on the programme met up at the University of Liverpool Guild of Students on the morning of the residential and the atmosphere in the Guild was nothing short of electric! Over half of the students had never visited London before the residential, and for some of our students it was actually their first time outside of Liverpool. The boys had mixed thoughts about what London would be like, with opinions ranging from ‘Brilliant’ to ‘Crowded’ and ‘Old-fashioned’.
After a Virgin Train ride (departing from the new and improved Lime Street Station!) we braved the Tube; a new experience for most students. Thomas R marveled at how efficiently London Tubes run! After arriving at Waterloo and exploring Southbank, we took a spin on the London Eye; despite some students (and staff!) having initial reservations about the height of the attraction, everyone enjoyed the ride and the students did a great job of identifying different landmarks from the 135m height of the London Eye!
After dinner at the Rainforest Cafe near Piccadilly Circus and some time settling into our hotel in the busy Kings Cross area we headed to the West End via Covent Garden to the Fortune Theatre to watch The Woman in Black, a text some of the students will be studying in English Literature and Drama GCSEs. Watching from the Dress Circle, we were on the edge of our seats throughout the performance and the jury is out as to which member of staff screamed the loudest when the eponymous Woman in Black appeared!
On the second day of our residential we split into two groups to visit and tour the Houses of Parliament and take part in a walking tour of Whitehall, 10 Downing Street, Horseguards Parade, St James’ Park, the Mall and Buckingham Palace. The Houses of Parliament visits were a huge success; Group 2 were able to watch part of an animal rights debate in the House of Commons and Group 1 watched the Speakers Procession ahead of Prime Ministers Questions and met Liverpool MP Louise Ellman – who was actually the MP for the students from Kings Leadership Academy. Liam R used the meeting with Louise Ellman as an opportunity to ask about how she thought the growing gang violence issue in Liverpool could be tackled – a fantastic, insightful question!
After a late lunch at Baker Street, sadly without meeting Sherlock Holmes, we headed over to Madam Tussauds London to explore the wax work galleries and interactive exhibitions – with the figures of President Obama and Morgan Freeman, the Alien: Escape walk through and Marvel 4D movie proving particularly popular. After an afternoon at Madam Tussauds, we headed home; although with a slightly delayed train to add to the authentic London experience!
Throughout the whole trip, we were lucky to have Jamie J as a photographer. Jamie is interested in pursuing photography or architecture as a career, and as well as photographing us during the residential, he also used the Shaping Futures camera to capture images of interesting buildings during the trip, which both he and Dylan R will be sketching as part of their GCSE Art coursework – we can’t wait to see some of the sketches they create. Here are some of the fantastic images Jamie captured during the trip.
We asked the students to complete a post event evaluation form on the train journey back to Liverpool and we were incredibly pleased to see that the evaluations supported us in our belief that the trip was a huge success! Following the residential 89% of students felt they’d like to go to university compared to just 71% before the residential and 54% of students felt more confident in themselves following the residential.
The next event on the Through the Eyes of Boys project will be three academic mentoring sessions on Saturdays in November, tailored to the subjects the students feel they need support with and with mentoring provided from undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students from institutions across the Shaping Futures partnership. You can find out more about the Through the Eyes of Boys programme on our dedicated webpage.