Aspirations: goals apart

January 21, 2005

BRIGHTSIDE PUPILS

The 1981 Census found that Brightside had the UK's highest proportion of people in unskilled jobs. Pupils there do not see a degree as necessary.

Jessica Dalton is thinking of studying IT and maths at A level, but she does not believe that there is much value for her in going on to university.

The 15-year-old pupil at Firth Park Community Arts College finds the idea of an apprenticeship more appealing. "My dad (a sales representative) did an apprenticeship when he left school as he didn't have many GCSEs. It worked for him, and he thinks it would be good for me.

"If you go to university, you are there a long time. It all comes down to the job you get afterwards. If you went straight into a job, you could work your way up instead."

Josh Schofield, a pupil at Hinde House School, says he has never wanted to go to university, not even after he took part in a higher education outreach scheme. He plans to do a vocational sports programme at Hillsborough College.

Neither his father, a welder, nor his mother, a shop assistant, went to university, but they would both support him if he did, he says.

"I'm put off by the image of university students, and I don't want to be thousands of pounds in debt.

"For what I want to do, I don't need to go to university. I would rather go to college, get some decent grades, then get a job."

HALLAM PUPILS

The 1981 Census found that Hallam had the UK's best-educated population.

Most children there expect to attend university.

Rhodri Evans came close to bucking the trend among his sixth-form peers at Tapton Secondary School by considering not going to university.

But his love of lacrosse and his friends persuaded him to aim for a place at an American university to study sports science. He plans to spend a year out visiting US institutions with strong lacrosse teams before travelling around the world.

His parents, a retired civil servant and a teacher-turned-housewife, always assumed that he would go to university and support his plans. He says: "It is a big financial commitment going to America, but I hope to get some kind of scholarship."

Sally Estcaurt has set her heart on becoming a professional dancer, but she has been careful to ensure that she gets good A-level grades as a back-up in case things don't go according to plan.

The Tapton School pupil admits that she is fortunate to have parents in professional jobs who have been willing to fund the private dancing lessons that, she hopes, have equipped her to win a place at a prestigious ballet or contemporary dance school.

She says: "My mum thinks a university course would be less competitive, but she is still supportive. Dancing is an expensive hobby, and I am very lucky to have had good teachers."

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