The students were given some real insights into the work done by the Law Student Representation Project, which is a joint venture between Wolverhampton Council & the university. Law students assist people who have lost their benefits or have been deemed ineligible for benefits under the new (2008) criteria, and represent them at their appeal hearings in court.
Our host, Natalia Hill, gave the students some real-life examples of individuals helped by the project, and discussed some of the different kinds of benefit which vulnerable people struggle to claim, such as ESA (Employment Support Allowance). Natalia explained how ESA does not carry the same conditions as JSA and is more appropriate therefore for people with multiple and/or complex, long-term health conditions and other barriers to work.
Natalia then gave students a “health questionnaire” which is required from individuals seeking to claim ESA. She asked the students to come up with a fictional character who would definitely be entitled to this benefit. The students created “Bob”, an amputee with mental health issues, with a low level of education, and living alone with no support network – and were shocked to see that, according to the health questionnaire, Bob would be deemed “eligible for work”. Natalia explained that, in a case such as this, a Law student representative would be able to assist with a written submission and by advocating for Bob in court, and would aim to demonstrate that Bob does meet the criteria for ESA.
I think the students had an eye-opening experience, and I hope it has confirmed their interest in Law at university.
Mrs Zoe Torsney Course Liaison Coordinator
At a Particle Physics Masterclass recently students in 6.1 worked on real CERN data to isolate potentially interesting events which they identified and then logged. By measuring the energy of the known particles produced they were able to see direct evidence of heavy neutral particles (you can see a picture of Jade Low and Christopher Langton with their graph which shows a nice peak at the energies associated with the Z-boson).
All the student data at Birmingham was collected together and this helped to confirm our results. We could also begin to see some evidence for the presence of the Higgs Boson – although this definitely required more data! In the afternoon there was a live video conference with two particle physicists at CERN and other students around Europe that were taking part in the same Masterclass (in Lecce, Zaragoza, Geneva and Slovakia).
At the masterclass, we got to listen to introductory talks on particle physics and the LHC, do some data analysis on a computer programme, talk to some of the experts in the field and live video to CERN. I personally really enjoyed the hands-on computing activity using the HYPATIA software.
It took time to learn all the procedures at first but once you get used to it, you can quickly identify footprints of heavy neutral particles. It’s very nice to put your knowledge into context. I think It made us feel like what we learn in A Level are not just factual and theoretical things but gave us an idea of how they are derived or applied in practice and therefore help us to appreciate what we are learning more.
Anna Bui 6.1
Sooner or later, we all face difficult choices in life. We doubt, we analyse, we hesitate. Academic choices, the ones that determine the fate of your future life, do have to be made (although way too early in my opinion). If you have already found a passion for your subject, you may be confused on your abilities, depth of knowledge and interest, choice between academics and social life. If you are one of the ever-large cohort of the undecided – you are most probably sinking in the swamp of choices, where everything you touch turns into a whole load of new possibilities.
How do you decide? How do you suddenly take responsibility for your whole life? How do you make sure that there is nothing better, and that you will not regret your decision later?
The answer is as dull and boring as you could imagine – you take it slowly. A step at a time, you reason every single assumption that you make. What it the most important part of your life? Comfort, stability, or indeed adventure and new frontiers? Both is a viable option, you should keep that in mind. Are you fine with working under set rules, can you rebuild a system from within, or do you desperately need one of your own?
It is indeed these choices that are more important, than the actual subject areas, because the more confident you are in your decision – the more time, energy and effort you can put into getting there, and thus the more likely you are to succeed. Once you find a general approach to life that you are happy with – be that fitness, always being there for friends and family, or indeed being at the top of the current in your academic field – you will not be distracted by someone being better than you in areas that you do not really care about.
Once you find that general approach to life, you will start to realise that you are either happy with the person you are now, or that you may actually want to consider changing something in your life, in order to become completely happy with yourself. That may sound very tedious, but the confidence in making your decisions does come from your inner confidence.
You cannot make a completely right choice unless you realise that you cannot really get it wrong. It is your life, and being the person you want to be will inevitably bring you to doing something that suits you – something you may currently not even think of as an alternative. The more worried and doubtful you are – the less you are likely to pick up those chances, and to really enjoy life.
Thus, once faced with a choice you really have no clue how to go about, remember that it is ultimately you and your happiness that matters. However difficult the option may seem, if you know that you will be happier that way, go about it. Your confidence in yourself will give you the ability to succeed, and the main thing to remember is to enjoy every moment of it.
Taisiya Trebunskikh 6.2
Last Wednesday, members of Outreach Society visited Longnor School, and shared their stories of their own cultural background with local children.
Longnor School is a local primary school 7 minutes away from Concord College. However, for the local children, the lives of Concord students may seem quite distant. Here, we have a very divergent culture. In this brief 1-hour visit, our 32 volunteers introduced to the children their unique cultures from different places of the world.
Each group of students took a small audience at a time, and conveyed three interactive talks to different groups. Students come up with important events or festivals in their own cultures. For example, Indonesia students introduced the Ramadan festival and stories of prophets in Muslim culture. The Eastern European group presented about the Orthodox version of Easter and enchanting legends associated with the festival of Iva Kupala. The Africa group spoke about the Nigerian festivals and the fairy tale of “how a tortoise mended its broken back”. It was amazing to hear so many different stories. Before my interview, I never knew most of the festivals myself. Neither did some of the speakers, before they started their research!
The talk was well prepared with pictures printed off to show the children how the event is often celebrated. “We will play a game with the children, and let them draw flowers,” said the Israel group. “We think the smaller children will enjoy the game, so we’re taking the reception class.”
For our volunteers, this was also a remarkable experience. To make a speech acceptable to a young audience wasn’t easy, but it was surely worth the effort. “After the trip, I feel as though we made an impact on the kids in such a positive way.” said Natalie, one of the African group members, “We simply made some new friends from a younger generation.”
Maeve Dai 6.2