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Transforming Education

Community Collaboration: Working Together for Better

Our innovative approach to co-creating and delivering education in partnership with our community – businesses, universities, public and third-sector organisations, schools and colleges – is achieving outstanding results.

Our commitment to and confidence in this approach is also developing students who are agents of change, both within the University, where they are co-creators of knowledge, societal engagement, impact generation, industrial engagement, and beyond as global, 21st century citizens.

The Education Incubator advances many of our collaborative community projects, all of which demonstrate and promote the important role we play in having a positive impact across our wider community.

For example our Learning Mathematics Through Art at Primary School Level project set out to creatively reimagine teaching maths at this level through artistic learning activities. By communicating mathematical concepts and skills through the medium of visual art, we changed the way students thought about maths: in trialled activities in local primary schools, students were engaged, amused and some who said they did not like maths relished the activities.

The project has encouraged these activities to be incorporated into the curriculum and created awareness of how art can enhance the maths educational experience.

Elsewhere in education, our Bridge to the Future project set out to not only engage and inspire children to pursue further education in STEM subjects, but to give young people and their families an insight into the value of Higher Education.

Led by Prof. Maria Rosaria and second year engineering students, the project delivered hands-on learning activities using Mola and Lego kits. These were easy to use and introduced advanced engineering concepts, allowing facilitators to demonstrate thrilling, real-life applications of STEM work.

The workshop exceeded expectations with children demonstrating a much more advanced understanding than expected, and it has created a resource that combines teaching relevant subject areas with information and guidance on higher education. The team are exploring the potential of bringing the project into the University framework for community engagement, consolidating the partnership with University Technical College Southwest and other schools.

Another of our projects set out to create a voice for those who experience criminal justice by connecting courts with communities and vice versa.

Courts rarely know what happens to a person after their hearing and so this student-led project was launched to support the work of Community Advice and Support Services, CASS+, a local charity that works alongside courts in Devon and Cornwall to support offenders and victims.

CASS+ had identified issues concerning community mental health support for individuals, a lack of knowledgeable, expert community frontline workers to provide one-to-one support, low levels of legal education for offenders and barriers to small organisations working together to develop solutions.

The project leveraged the expertise of colleagues in both Law and Criminology to evidence CASS+ findings and demonstrate the need for funding. Right now, the team are looking ahead to grow the project’s reach and impact, while using the working model to develop other community partner projects.