The Townhead Homework Club was established in November 2014 by final year BEd students from the School of Education. The homework club runs in the Townhead Village Hall on St Mungo Avenue behind the University Library. The club runs after school every Tuesday and Thursday during term time from October to May. Students from different year groups of the undergraduate Primary Education programme, the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education and Psychology work together to run this club. The overall running of the club is overseen by a final year Primary Education student.
School of Education
The community of Townhead in Glasgow faces a number of socio-economic challenges. Many residents have English as an additional language. As the University’s immediate neighbour to the north of the campus, the School of Education wanted to work to benefit this neighbourhood while providing meaningful learning opportunities for students.
This completely student-led project allows students to work with the primary school children from Townhead in an after school setting. The purpose of the club is to support children in completing their homework. However, in 2015-16 the students began working more closely with St Mungo’s Primary School – which all the children from the club attend – to develop the children’s literacy skills in line with the school’s literacy programme. Linking with the school allows the students to have a clearer focus on the literacy strategies being used in the school and on the school’s expectations of the children. The students have created a library to enhance the experience of the children at the club and reading is now the main activity on offer when the children have completed their homework.
The students who run this club do this as a personal and professional development activity. There are no credits involved and no one is paid. However, the students offer placements for first year HaSS Education students who have up to seventy hours to spend working in the community and to PGDE students who have 20 hours to develop one area of their professional practice. The students undertaking placements with Townhead Homework Club receive credits for this effort. The students running the club act as mentors and assessors for students on placement.
Benefits for the local community
- Making links with the university on its doorstep
- Benefitting from the skills and knowledge of university students
- Children in the community developing literacy and numeracy skills
- Collaboration with university students, Village Hall staff, parents and pupils
- Opportunities for collaboration between the local school and university students
- Students from across the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences using their knowledge to work with pupils and parents in the community
Benefits for students
- Opportunity to put theory learned at university into practice
- Building up professional experience of children’s learning in an informal context
- Liaising with other agencies and a range of other professionals
- Providing students with better understanding of the complexities of working with pupils with English as an additional language
- Relevant work experience for those considering working with children on university courses that are not based in the School of Education
- Development of interpersonal and communication skills
- Problem solving in a real and relevant context
- Working with and learning from the public, including parents and Village Hall staff
- Developing leadership skills
- Developing skills in self-evaluation and evaluation of others
Factors contributing to the success of this project
- The project is completely student-led
- The project is vertically integrated in nature (VIP)
- Opportunities for collaboration with students from across the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
- Collaboration amongst students, university staff, the local school and the local community
- The project focuses on the needs of the community
- The project is designed to be sustainable, ensuring the homework club continues to run when the student overseeing the project graduates
- “It has given me the opportunity to get to know the community and has taught me new skills that I can carry on and use in the future.”
- “The experience has expanded my own knowledge of teaching and of children’s learning.”
- “Doing my placement at Townhead Homework Club has allowed me to gain first-hand experience of helping children and developing their learning.”
- The club originally ran until June which was difficult because most students had finished their studies early in June. The club now stops in May.
- Health and safety issues which were not immediately apparent had to be dealt with swiftly as they arose.
- Working around the student school placement pattern in the School of Education means that there are times when maintaining the number of students available for the homework club is a challenge.
- Students developing their own behaviour management strategies that work for them and for the children and parents of Townhead was an initial challenge.
- Safety outside the homework club - how children get to and from the Village Hall – is an ongoing issue for students.
- Developing strategies to communicate with parents who have limited English is something that students work on on an ongoing basis.
This type of project could be run in any community where there is a need and where students have the vision to take the responsibility for this.
Suggestions for Transferability
This kind of project could be used by any discipline in the University. Schools and Departments first need to establish the needs within the community they want to work with and then design their project around those needs.