I’m not going to lie. As a photographer I’m not expecting to change the world; I don’t even think what I do is all that important in the grand scheme of things. However the same can’t be said for some of my clients, and in particular one of my most regular and interesting ones: the Widening Participation team at King’s College, London.
Headed by Anne-Marie Canning, the Widening Participation team are dedicated to ensuring as many school leavers as possible get the opportunity to study at university. They are acutely aware of the class divide that still persists in university education, and are doing all they can to reduce it.
From the involvement of primary school children in deprived areas of London with their Into University scheme, through to their summer schools for sixth form students, the KCLWP team are introducing young people to the world of university education in an engaging and entertaining way, and I have seen first hand just how much the participants enjoy these schemes.
Last year was the first year they held a summer school that was sponsored by the Sutton Trust, a charitable organisation dedicated to providing children from less privileged backgrounds the same opportunities for higher education as more well-off pupils. I was asked to photograph the students, who came from all around the country, during academic sessions, and the preparation and execution of presentations that they performed in front of all their peers at the end of the week. Without exception I could see that every single young person at the school was totally committed to getting the best out of their week in London.
Since then I’ve photographed the much younger children at an Into University event, and more sixth formers at the Spotlight and Sutton Trust summer schools this year, along with a launch event last night for the 2014 Widening Participation yearbook (which you can see here). I spoke to Catherine Jackson, part of the Widening Participation team, after the event about how impressed I was with what the KCLWP team were doing, and she was in no doubt that it is Anne-Marie’s influence that has made the scheme such a success in a short space of time.
It’s pretty inspiring to see the KCLWP team at work and the very real effects it has on the students who get involved. After last night it struck me how little coverage schemes like this get in the media, so I felt obliged to make up for this, in whatever small way I can, by writing this piece.