The new education facility, which is jointly-funded by university access charity IntoUniversity, the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Trinity College Cambridge, was officially launched at a celebratory opening event this week, with Myleene Klass joining as guest of honour for the event.
Around 25 students aged 7-18 who are set to benefit from the centre for the next academic year and beyond attended the event, with some of them delivering speeches.
Primary school students took part in a variety of activities during the event replicating the type of activities they will be engaging with in the year ahead during after-school academic support sessions, while secondary school students came up with questions about future study and careers to survey attending guests.
Teachers, parents and guests from the partner organisations were also in attendance, alongside special guest, presenter, singer and UEA honorary graduate Myleene Klass, who was born in Great Yarmouth and attended Cliff Park Ormiston Academy in Gorleston-on-Sea, which is one of the schools partnering with the centre. Myleene performed the ceremonial ribbon cutting alongside students and representatives of IntoUniversity and the partner universities.
Myleene said: “Having grown up and gone to school just around the corner from Market Gates, I know that East Norfolk is a wonderful part of the country, with a huge amount of potential, and I’m really looking forward to meeting and speaking to the students who are in the same position that I once was.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to open this centre, which I’m sure is going to really help young people in the area. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some wonderful opportunities in my lifetime, but I know that these aren’t afforded to everyone. So a centre in Great Yarmouth that opens up greater prospects for the next generation can only be great news for the town.”
Data from the Office for Students in 2022 showed that Great Yarmouth is one of only three parliamentary constituencies with 100% of young people living in low higher education participation postcodes. The centre is in an IMD (index of multiple deprivation) and ranked 120th in the most deprived out of over 32,000 small areas in the UK, with a local young progression rate at just 12%. 34% of children were living in poverty in Great Yarmouth in 2020/21, according to the End Child Poverty coalition.
The Great Yarmouth centre is the second IntoUniversity and UEA partner facility in Norfolk, after IntoUniversity Norwich in West Earlham Community Centre, which opened in 2021. The Norwich centre has already supported many students in the area. 80% of school leavers who attended the centre have gone into higher education after its first year, and a further 10% have entered employment, apprenticeships or further education.
The centre is a joint venture between IntoUniversity, Trinity College Cambridge and UEA, including financially, and is also supported by a number of philanthropic and corporate partners, including The Lindsell Foundation, whose fantastic support was instrumental in getting the centre up and running.
Steph Copsey, UEA Outreach Manager, said: “We recognise the civic responsibility that UEA has to our region and it’s very exciting that we’re creating new ties in an area of such great potential as Norfolk’s east coast.
“Our partnership with IntoUniversity at our Earlham centre has proved a huge success in making higher education accessible for those who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, and it’s hugely exciting that young people in Great Yarmouth and the surrounding area will be provided with this chance.”
Rachel Carr, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of IntoUniversity, said: “We’re delighted to be officially launching this new centre in Great Yarmouth, building on our work in the region which began with the launch of our Norwich centre.
“We look forward to working with local schools, parents and of course the amazing young people who will bring this centre to life. Young people in Great Yarmouth have so much talent and potential, but circumstances can mean their opportunities to succeed are limited through no fault of their own.
“We’re delighted to be able to support many of these young people explore and nurture their talents and ultimately reach their potential through the work of the centre. Thanks to our partners UEA and Trinity College Cambridge for making this all possible.”
Professor Catherine Barnard, Senior Tutor at Trinity College Cambridge, said: “This partnership with UEA and IntoUniversity represents a hugely important and exciting step, both for the local people here in Great Yarmouth and for us at Trinity as a sponsor. Our College is, first and foremost, a community which seeks to facilitate excellence in student education, and it is a wonderful privilege for us to be able to help promote educational opportunities for young people in the Great Yarmouth area.
“Organisations like IntoUniversity are vital in ensuring that pupils have access to the life chances they deserve. This centre will go a long way to making those life-enhancing opportunities tangible for the young people who attend. I know everyone at Trinity College Cambridge wishes the students and the team here all the very best in their academic endeavours.”
The centre employs four full-time members of staff and will be used to offer after-school academic support, mentoring with local university students and professionals, in-school aspiration-raising workshops and enrichment and work experience opportunities.
IntoUniversity has a proven track record of improving attainment into further education for students facing disadvantage, and currently supports over 46,000 young people each year at their 39 centres nationwide.
66% of students who attend IntoUniversity centres go on to progress to university, compared with 26.6% of students from similar backgrounds nationally, meaning students are effectively three times more likely to enter higher education through attending.