West Norfolk students face University Challenge at King’s Lynn conference

Pupils from schools across the region take part in the West Norfolk University Challenge Conference held at the University Centre West Anglia.
Pupils from schools across the region take part in the West Norfolk University Challenge Conference held at the University Centre West Anglia.
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Some of West Norfolk’s brightest students have taken part in a new initiative that education officials hope will help to raise standards and ambition in the area.

Around 100 young people, drawn from most of the area’s secondary schools, attended a University Challenge conference, held in Lynn’s new University Centre on Friday.

Pupils from schools across the region take part in the West Norfolk University Challenge Conference held at the University Centre West Anglia.

Pupils from schools across the region take part in the West Norfolk University Challenge Conference held at the University Centre West Anglia.

The event is one of several ideas being pursued in a bid to encourage closer working relationships between schools, more sharing of good practice and improve overall levels of attainment.

John Hirst, executive deputy head for the West Norfolk Academies Trust (WNAT), which organised the conference, said: “We know West Norfolk is an area of educational under-achievement.

“What the borough council is keen on, and what we are keen on, is raising the ambition and aspiration of our students. The only way we can do that is by working with the students.”

The conference involved students who are predicted to be among their schools’ top performers in GCSE exams later this year.

Pupils from schools across the region take part in the West Norfolk University Challenge Conference held at the University Centre West Anglia. Guest speaker Ben Stocks (Group CEO, Porvair Plc) talks to students.

Pupils from schools across the region take part in the West Norfolk University Challenge Conference held at the University Centre West Anglia. Guest speaker Ben Stocks (Group CEO, Porvair Plc) talks to students.

They were divided into groups mixed between the different schools represented to tackle a series of English, maths and science-themed challenges.

They also heard speeches from two keynote speakers, Ben Stocks, the chief executive of Porvair PLC, and London-based lawyer Tim Dobbins, who is a former pupil of both the St Clement’s High and Springwood High schools.

Certificates were presented at the end of the day by borough deputy mayor, Carol Bower.

Teachers also met during the day to share ideas and good practice across the participating schools.

Mr Hirst said the schools were also taking part in a parallel maths project, in which students will all sit the same exam paper to see what level students are working at and what the schools can do together to improve before the summer’s exams.

Programmes involving younger year groups are also being considered.

He said: “It’s trying to raise attainment. We have been very successful in WNAT and we want to try to push that out further.”

Mr Hirst said the university centre, which was officially opened last September, was the ideal venue to give students a taste of the options that are available to them.

He said: “We’re very grateful to COWA allowing us to use it. It’s a facility in town that needs to be used.”