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HEON Summer School 2018


On Monday 25th June to Thursday 28th June 2018, HEON held its second Residential Summer School at The University of Surrey. The aim of the summer school was to give the students a variety of interactive taster sessions across a wide range of disciplines to encourage them to get outside of their comfort zones, and explore the options available to them. The students stayed in university halls, giving them a taste of independent living and experience what university life is like, and took part in several social activities including bowling, a cinema trip, and a BBQ by the side of the beautiful lake on The University of Surrey's campus. Board games were also played all throughout the week, uniting the group and giving students several hilarious rounds of the quick-fire game "Password", as well as whodunit "Mafia" and exploding kittens!

With help from each of our partner institutions, we ran academic-led sessions, informational workshops about their options for higher education, and a session all about student finance. The students were also taken to one of our partner institutions, Merrist Wood, to take a look at alternative courses such as animal management and handling, and they even got to meet some of Merrist Wood's residents - including Sherman the armadillo!

Introductory Session - Making the most of your summer school

In order to introduce the students to the summer school, on Monday we started with a session from The University of Surrey's SPLASH (Student Personal Learning and Study Hub) team to go through how to make the most of their time at university. This talk included setting a goal for the week which also helped to focus the students and remind them of why they were attending the summer school. This was also a chance for the students to meet the central HEON team as well as the ambassadors they would be working with for the week. We also gave them a pre-evaluation form to help us evaluate the impact and success of the summer school.

Welcome to Debating

An interactive session put together by one of The University of Surrey's third year law students, Phil Slegg, this session taught students what constitutes a debate, and how to structure one. This began with a "Just a Minute" activity where students discussed random subjects for one minute, with topics including Nandos, Harry Potter, and the Royal Family. This got students thinking on their feet and talking with confidence, before transitioning into a debate on the contemporary issue of gun control. Our summer school students were shown videos for the pro-gun control and pro-gun arguments, and then used this to fuel their debates for and against the motion. This was a fantastic session to bring the students together, breaking the ice for them, and leading to some very well thought out debates which continued throughout the day.


We then had an excellent osteopathy session delivered by academics from our partner institution, NESCOT (North East Surrey College of Technology), which also included a business element in the form of running your own clinic. Students witnessed some incredible osteopathic techniques such as an osteopathy third year student, Carrie, lifting the session leader, Marcus Wahlia, off the table with some quite terrifying (but perfectly safe) neck pain exercises. Everyone was very involved in the session, and the students were fully engaged and happy to listen to the different career path osteopathy could lead them to.

Graphic Design

Our partner, Hayleigh, from UCA (University for the Creative Arts) then ran a graphic design session, where students were instructed to create a 'wearable letter' from card, paper, and a multitude of other craft materials. Working in pairs, students were given ideas such as a pair of flip-flops using the letter 'M', a series of crowns and druid-inspired headgear using the letter 'O', and a pair of sunglasses using the letter 'W'. This was a fantastically well-received session and allowed the students to talk and work with other students to reinforce what working as team could be like if they study at university. 


On Tuesday, students were given a lecture-style talk, delivered by an academic from Royal Holloway, University of London, Ivica Petrikova. This covered in detail the impact of economy and growth on the environment, and stayed with the students for the rest of the day as they included aspects of what they had learnt in a radio session they took part in later.


In keeping with the social sciences theme of the summer school, the students were then given a philosophy session, again delivered by an academic from Royal Holloway, David, who spoke to the students about values and what we believe in. With more of a seminar feel, students were shown the two main styles of teaching at university and responded very well to the sessions they were given.

Design a Radio Show

This was an entirely new session created for our summer school and delivered by our partner institution FCOT (Farnborough College of Technology). Two FCOT staff, including HEON's very own Keri McSweeney, delivered this radio session using a portable radio station and students were set three tasks:

1. Learn how to introduce songs on the radio and learn the controls.

2. Design and deliver their own radio advert as well as including background music.

3. Put together a discussion on the radio discussing their adverts and introducing ideas.

This was a great session which even had students creating some great ideas for radio adverts such as a solar-powered phone charger, a new pizza place on campus, and a football betting idea. Students were able to use real equipment and experience what it could be like to deliver a radio show.



Student Finance and Careers Conundrum

Using an incredibly innovative board game that she had designed herself, Lucy from The University of Surrey delivered a HE session that explained student finance and how repayments work. The students thoroughly enjoyed the session, and allowed them to fully understand the practicalities of student finance and the issues surrounding it. The second HE session delivered by our HEON Central Co-ordinator, Jonathan P, was a careers conundrum workshop - an interactive session that uses the online platform KUDOS to support students with their career choices and pathways, and also allowing student ambassadors to work 1 on 1 with students to discuss ideas and options.

Dragons' Den

Trialled for the first time for this year's summer school, HEON asked the four student ambassadors that supported the week to develop and deliver their own session for the summer school. Each ambassador explained what their degrees entailed, the support they have received at the university and what their course has been like. Students were then invited to vote (or "invest") in which course they felt was the best, and Psychology was the clear winner for third year student, Kirsty. This session also opened up the opportunity for more questions to be asked about courses and helped the students to realise exactly what was involved for each of those subjects.

Who Killed Justin Bieber?

Designed and delivered by our partner officer at The University of Surrey, Emilie, this session aimed to dispel muths about biology being "boring" and "only about plants"! Students had the opportunity to work in The University of Surrey's labs, using undergraduate equipment to successfully complete a DNA electrophoresis practical. All students ran their own individual experiment to work out who had killed Justin Bieber with three main suspects: Mary Berry, the Rock, and Ed Sheeran. Every student obtained a result and successfully deciphered who the culprit was. This session gave students the opportunity to run an experiment not usually carried out in schools and use modern, specialised equipment.


Animal Handling

Students also took a trip to Merrist Wood College, part of our partner the Guildford College Group, to learn about animal management courses and alternative routes into HE. Students heard from Orla Beattie about what college can offer and where the courses can lead. The group was then taken around the campus for a tour of the different animal enclosures, as well as having the chance to handle a few, including their armadillo.



As part of a partnership with Brightside, the HEON summer school offered the students attending an opportunity to be signed up for online mentoring with the ambassadors from the summer school as part of a 10-week programme that explores all areas of HE and gives them a chance to ask questions and help highlight possible options and routes for students to take. We believe this is a perfect supportive extension of the summer school to ensure all students have continued support as they transition into year 12 and 13.

Wellbeing and Resilience

Our partner officer at Royal Holloway, Jonathan B, delivered this new initiative from HEON. The session involves talking through wellbeing and areas where resilience can be built. Several interactive activities aim to allow students to discuss topics such as support networks available to them, and resources useful for wellbeing.


The final session of the summer school was an interactive graphic design session delivered by Caz Herdman-Grant from our partner UCF (University Centre Farnborough). The students were guided through a session first discussing various types of typography and then given a range of media and tools to put together ideas of what they felt about the summer school. The students had access to a wonderful array of inks, paints, pens, paintbrushes and other materials. It was a fantastic session to finish the summer school on and no doubt left the students on a positive note after completing their first ever summer school.


Evening Activities

On top of the exciting and informative workshops and subject-tasters during the day, students took part in a new social activity every evening. On the first night, they went to the Guildford Spectrum for a night of bowling along with students from an arts and social sciences (FASS) summer school. Many of the students who said they'd never been bowling before did incredibly well with too many strikes to count! This also gave students a chance to relax, talk, and get to know each other better.

On Tuesday evening, the HEON and FASS students walked into town to see Ocean's 8 at the cinema, again giving them a taste of independence and what the social side of university life is like.

On their final night, we had a BBQ by the lake, and it was a beautiful evening. This was a relaxing time for the students and there was some reflection on how the week had gone, and even how some didn't want to go just yet. We then played a round of 'Password' which meant the evening turned into a really exciting adrenaline-filled rush of word explanations and crazy celebrations!

Closing Session

The ending session included a certificate for all of the students who attended the summer school, and three awards for: "best quote of the week", "best team player", and "best effort in sessions". The ambassadors were also given personalised awards to recognise their efforts for the week. We then asked students to fill out their post-evaluation forms before letting them all go back home! Some of the highlights from the evaluation can be seen below.



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