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University of Liverpool - University News

Professor Fluffy introduces university life to American school children

published on November 29 2007
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A University of Liverpool project to encourage primary school children to consider university is to be delivered in schools in the US.

The Professor Fluffy scheme was created for children from ‘non-traditional’ university backgrounds in order to teach them about higher education and the benefits of going to university.  The project was originally introduced across schools in Merseyside and as a result of its success, was rolled out across the UK last year.

Education providers in Massachusetts are now preparing to deliver the programme. By the 2009-2010 academic year 3,000 children will have taken part in the programme which will be delivered by 10 schools and five out-of-school providers, such as youth and after-school clubs.

Using a colourful toy academic – ‘Professor Fluffy’ – as a teaching aid, children are taught a mini-curriculum in their school by the university delivering the project, in subjects such as medicine and science.  The children also visit the university to learn about life on campus where they meet students, visit lecture theatres and take part in hands-on activities that support the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum.

The project has been adapted to fit a US audience and will be delivered by The Education Resources Institute (TERI), a Boston-based non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting educational opportunities to change people’s lives. The TERI team will visit the University of Liverpool next week (Wednesday, 28 and Thursday, 29 November) to be trained to deliver the teaching sessions in ‘elementary’ schools in the cities of Boston and Brockton, Massachusetts over a three-year period.

“TERI looks forward to partnering with the University of Liverpool and being the first organisation to pilot Professor Fluffy in the United States,” said Dr Adrian K Haugabrook, Vice President of College Access Programmes. “Delivering the Professor Fluffy initiative supports TERI’s long-standing commitment to increasing post-secondary access and success for the young learners we serve through high-impact, innovative programmes and services.”  

“I’m confident the programme will have a significant impact on the college-going rates of our most vulnerable students in Massachusetts.”

Tricia Jenkins, Head of Widening Participation at the University of Liverpool, said: “The Professor Fluffy initiative has been effective in improving participation in higher education among children that may not have considered going to university.  The scheme has received backing from central Government for its success in engaging with children and we hope the same results will be seen in the US.”

Notes to editors:

1. Representatives from TERI will visit the University on Thursday, 29 November for training and to observe a school visit by St Mary’s and St Thomas’ Church of England Primary School for a Professor Fluffy session.  Photographers are welcome to take pictures of Dr Adrian K Haugabrook with Professor Fluffy and the children who will be wearing caps, gowns and the different coloured hoods at 2pm in Lecture Theatre 1, The Sherrington Building, at the University of Liverpool.

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