Sixth formers compete to solve Beveridge challenge

The students were amazed and touched that LSE academics has taken time out of their weekends to help them
Winning Team Charlie with June Sarpong 747 x 560
The winning team with broadcaster and author June Sarpong

Twenty-two sixth form students from LSE’s widening participation outreach programmes took part in a fast-paced competition to propose solutions to modern-day versions of William Beveridge’s giants.

The six-hour challenge took place during LSE’s 2018 festival: Beveridge 2.0 and was an exciting opportunity for the Year 12 students to engage with the festival and make a tangible link between theory and real-life social issues.

LSE’s Department of Social Policy worked with the Widening Participation team to design three ‘Giant Challenges’ covering topics which included literacy, food poverty and welfare.

On the day of the competition, the sixth formers worked in teams and chose a challenge to tackle, being supported throughout the process by a student mentor and an LSE100 academic. These included Neil McLean, Jessica Templeton, Rian Mulcahy, Jillian Terry and Alex Mayhew.

The teams were given the opportunity to attend a social challenge workshop and meet with subject experts before putting their heads together to research, create and rehearse their presentations.

The winning group tackled the issue of literacy problems for young people and impressed the judges, comprised of Head of Widening Participation Kirsty Wadsley, Head of Social Policy Stephen Jenkins and guest judge June Sarpong, with their proposals. These included a comprehensive #LETSGETLIT campaign featuring a combination of early intervention, promoting reading for enjoyment and ensuring the home environment is conducive to encouraging reading.

The students said the experience boosted their confidence, encouraged them to think about issues from different perspectives and taught them to work effectively under time pressure and with others.

Student mentor Claire Hooi (LLB Law, year 3), who supported the winning team, commented: “The students were amazed and touched that LSE academics has taken time out of their weekends to help them. The introduction of academic readings used in their presentations also made them feel more confident about university looming ahead. When my team won, I had never felt more excited or proud in all my three years of working with widening participation!” 

Judge June Sarpong said: “[The presentations] were fantastic, they were of a really high quality which was impressive considering the short time in which they had met and had to prepare.  If they [the students] are the future, we’re going to be fine!”

Behind the article

The LSE Widening Participation Team works with London’s schools and colleges to raise aspirations and awareness, support attainment and instil confidence to progress to higher education. In 2016-17 the team engaged with over 2,700 young people aged 11 to 18. More information is available here.