An Academic Year in the Life of a First Year Student

banch of students around a camp fireBA Youth and Community Work

Looking Back

As the first year students approach the end of their first academic year, the programme team – and students – reflect back on what a year it has been!  The BA Youth and Community Work programme at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David was revalidated and re-endorsed during the last academic year, and the new programme has been running this academic year for the first time.  The ETS Wales endorsed programme – a JNC recognised qualification widely recognised across the world – has a strong experiential learning feel to it, with many opportunities to learn beyond the classroom.  This ethos was set in place during Induction Week, where students spent a day in Brechfa Forest getting to know each other by participating in activities planned and delivered by second and third year students.  A day in the forest, of course, needed the opportunity to reflect and evaluate sat around an open fire – expertly lit by one of the first year students – toasting marshmallows!

Learning Beyond the Lecture Room

As experienced lecturers, and professionally qualified youth workers, the programme team fully appreciate that students learn in different ways.  This is reflected within lecture delivery, and the location of our teaching and learning.  For example, students are taught in lecture rooms on campus, and the rooms allow us to easily engage in group activity, which is an important part of the delivery of lectures.  Lectures are always interactive and participative, and reflect the characteristics of youth work, so that we are able to create thoughtful practitioners who possess the skills, knowledge and understanding to work with young people and communities.  This year we are piloting the use of a local youth project in the centre of Carmarthen as a location for the delivery of our programme, and every Thursday the first year students spend the day there.  A module is taught there in the morning, and in the afternoon practical sessions takes place there.  These practical sessions are called ‘Experiential Learning Activities’, and are in addition to the modules that students are enrolled upon.

Opportunities

The programme team’s vision is that when students graduate, not only do they hold an academic qualification and a professional qualification in youth work, they also possess many additional skills and have engaged in additional experiences to add to their employability.  For example, during Induction Week, students engaged in Tier 1 safeguarding training (accredited by Pembrokeshire Youth Service).  Students also indicated they would like to participate in self-defence training, and the programme team were able to organise Team Teach Positive Handling training (certified).  Students have engaged in workshops with the National Assembly for Wales, and are looking forward to visiting the Senedd at the end of Term.  Students have had the opportunity to be part of sessions delivered by a variety of youth work practitioners, including an introduction by Connect Cymru to opportunities and funding for engaging in European youth work exchanges.  Two further days at Brechfa Forest have been arranged, linking specifically to one of their modules, where students learn the ins and outs of working with young people in the outdoors.

Staff and Student Perspectives

Angharad Lewis, the BA Youth and Community Work Programme Director said, “it has been a busy and exciting year, and a great start to the new programme.  Our vision as a programme team, when designing the new degree, was to give our students a variety of opportunities, both as part of their taught degree and in addition to it, to aid their employability when they have graduated.  We are already seeing the vision being developed.  We are looking forward to planning ahead for our current students, and for the new students joining us in September”. 

Students have also spoken about their experiences to date on the programme…

“I found this year to be instructive and interesting.  Everyone is very friendly and open, and eager to share experiences.  Experiential learning really stands out for me as it’s very relevant, being trainee youth workers and learning through informal and non-formal methods”.

“The degree is an excellent way to learn, challenging and developing the skills necessary in the world of youth work, as well as developing personal growth”.

“What is youth work?  Come to Trinity and see…”