Starting higher education can be daunting, especially for students who have not followed the traditional A-level route. Teaching staff at GSM London understand that this is a huge step for students and in response run a Year Zero course that focuses on developing both academic skills and confidence building.
According to Paulette Annon, Programme Leader and Head of Year Zero Studies: ’Traditional access courses often require students to already be educated to A-level standard. At GSM London we realise that students may not yet be at that level – despite their potential. As long as students meet our basic entry requirements we will help them develop their skills to degree standard.’
In addition, unlike most traditional access courses, Year Zero is the starting point of the degree course; students complete the whole education journey with the same people. This enables students to create solid relationships with their tutors and peers, which in turns helps students to build their confidence in an environment that may not be familiar to them.
Paulette continues: ‘We understand that some people find the academic world intimidating and ‘not for them’ and, that once they arrive, they are exposed to a variety of new opportunities. That’s why we encourage our Year Zero students to get involved and help to shape the course – their experience can help us understand future students’ needs. For example: by listening to our students we know that accessibility to campus and diversity are important. Students feel more confident because the student body and teaching staff come from diverse backgrounds – they are among and taught by people who they can relate to.’
It’s an approach that works. The Year Zero course has gained in popularity and since 2011 our intake has doubled. Of course, like any education provider, our student population will continue to change and GSM London will continue to recognise this and respond to their needs.