The Shadowing Scheme brings around 300
lower sixth students with little or no family
or school experience of university to Cambridge
for three days. It is the most successful scheme
that CUSU Access runs (and is the biggest
student-run access initiative in the country!), but
it is heavily reliant upon the hard work and
committment of college Access Officers and
those who volunteer.
[For JCR/Access Officer's Only]
As a college Access Officer your involvement with the Shadowing Scheme will start at the beginning of Michaelmas Term, but it'll be quite a light workload. Just before the Shadowing Scheme begins, and during the Shadowing Scheme, is when your time will be most needed. There is a more detailed breakdown of your part in the Shadowing Scheme later.
Earlier Shadowing Schemes
The Shadowing Scheme 2013 will be the thirteenth Shadowing Scheme that CUSU has run - it's a tradition! Here are reports on a few previous Shadowing Schemes, written by CUSU Access Officers:
If you have any additional comments about the Shadowing Scheme 2012 then please get in touch with the CUSU Access Officer.
Dates of Shadowing Scheme
The Shadowing Scheme takes place with different groups of sixth formers over three consecutive weeks, always on the last week of January and first two weeks of February.
Your experience organising the CUSU Shadowing Scheme
The Shadowing Scheme really is a joint effort between the CUSU Access Officer and all the Access Officers of the colleges involved. Many more details and discussions will come via email, as everything changes a little bit from year to year, but the basic stages for college Access Officers are set out below.
Michaelmas - October
Convince your Admissions Office to donate more rooms
The CUSU Access Officer has spent the summer vacation prodding all standard-age undergraduate colleges to donate rooms and meals to the Shadowing Scheme for all three weeks. We can only take as many shadows as we can accommodate, and we rely on the generosity of colleges in donating spare rooms and free college meals to the shadows.
Your college may already have donated rooms, but if you can convince them to donate more then that's great.
One way of increasing the number of shadows your college can accommodate is convincing your college to opt into the room-share system. In 2012 the colleges that agreed to the room-share system were Clare, Downing, Homerton, Jesus, Murray Edwards and Pembroke. Click here for the Access Officers' Guide to Room-Sharing.
Recruit students and societies to take part
From Michaelmas we start recruiting students to be mentors. We advertise from societies fair onwards, directing people to the CUSU Shadowing Scheme web page (which branches off the CUSU Access web page).
So, get talking to people in college. Get sending emails around to students telling them to become involved in the UK's biggest student-run access initiative. Tell students at your college how fun and rewarding it is to take part in the Shadowing Scheme, and then direct them to the CUSU Access Officer if they have any questions, and the Shadowing Scheme webpage for more details and to sign up.
We also need sports clubs and societies to get involved with the Shadowing Scheme by putting on events for shadows, or creating shadow-friendly events that we can promote to them. For 2012 we had interest from college boat clubs, the Triple Helix Society, Student Action for Refugees, CamFM and CU Islamic Society amongst others. Please direct people that you know to the same web page if they are interested in getting their society or sports club involved.
Michaelmas - November
Warn us about inappropriate volunteers
Mentors will be paired with a 16-17 year old student and expected to spend lots of time with them over the course of about 40 hours in total. This relationship will definitely shape the shadow's view of Cambridge and other top universities. Mentors also have a reasonable responsibility to keep their shadows safe e.g. by not taking them to drug- or alcohol-fuelled environments.
It is paramount that we can rely on volunteers to give a positive and realistic view of Cambridge life, to make a young adult feel as comfortable as possible in an alien environment and to stick to rules and be safe. If you have serious concerns about any of the people who have signed up to be mentors at your college, please let the CUSU Access Officer know.
Making sure all volunteers get CRB-checked
All mentors should have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) so that they can work closely with young adults, as should you! Even those who already have recent CRB disclosures can only get away without another one if:
- they are a vet;
- they are a medic;
- they have had a CRB done for any University access work before (including the Shadowing Scheme).
The CUSU Access Officer will likely organise CRB sessions in your college on a day in November, where they'll bring blank CRB forms for all students who've applied to be mentors to complete. The checks are absolutely free for students, but the main issue is about documentation. You'll need to warn students in advance that they need to bring these original identity documents with them to the CRB session.
All students who apply to be mentors need to carry out a CRB check, even though not all students will be allocated shadows in the end. It takes a few weeks for the Criminal Records Bureau to process the forms and send back disclosure documents (to 'okay' the students) so it's better to get them done in Michaelmas.
Lent - early January
Check that mentors are happy with their matches
The CUSU Access Officer allocates shadows to mentors during the Christmas vacation. Sometimes mentors leave it quite late to tell us that they need to change their plans, so it'd be a good idea for you to confirm the names of everybody in your college who's getting a shadow during the Shadowing Scheme, and to check that they're still okay with it. This is a chance for you to pick up on and address any queries that are going on in your college about the Shadowing Scheme. You should start to distribute your mobile number to mentors and to get their email addresses and mobile numbers so that you can contact each other before and during the Shadowing Scheme.
You should also ensure that mentors are well briefed. All mentors will have to attend a compulsory briefing session by CUSU as part of CUSU's Child Protection Policy. You only need to do this by publicising the sessions once they're organised.
A good idea is to also give your mentors a college-specific briefing, to answer any final questions and to let them all know about the arrangements for shadows' rooms and meals. It's also a great chance for any mentors to meet you who haven't already done so. This allows them to feel more confident to get in contact with you should they need to during the Shadowing Scheme.
Last-minute checks with college
You should check with the:
- Admissions Office what the final arrangements are for shadows obtaining their room keys and college meals (perhaps their wristbands will be accepted, or printed meal vouchers);
- Catering Department that they know about the Shadowing Scheme and its dates (they may need reminding a couple of days in advance);
- porters that they are aware of the Shadowing Scheme weekends, so that they can answer shadows' questions and issue them keys at the beginning.
Make arrangements with other colleges if necessary
The odd mentor at your college could have a shadow who's being accommodated at a nearby college, or vice versa. Or you may want to team up with nearby colleges if your shadow group is small and you want to introduce them to more people.
Whatever the reason, it's good to get in contact with other JCR Access Officers near you, and you may be able to coordinate activities with one another.
You can use the restricted Facebook group, or email, to exchange mobile numbers so that you can keep in contact with one another during emergences. Please also email the CUSU Access Officer with your mobile number in advance, so that they can get in contact with you during the Shadowing Scheme if necessary.
Organise your time so that you can fit in the Shadowing Scheme weekends
You may plan or need to have a lot of personal involvement in the Shadowing Scheme weekends themselves, whether that means organising your own college-based activities for shadows, or just being on standby in case anybody needs to leave their shadow with you for a while.
Try to free up a little time for the Shadowing Scheme weeks, so that you're not ridiculously behind on work at the end of February.
Lent - during the Shadowing Scheme
Oversee the smooth-running of the Shadowing Scheme in your college
The least that you have to do in this role is to be a point of information and a point of contact during an emergency. This means that you should definitely be in Cambridge, but you may not have to alter your normal activities very much.
It's probably a good idea to take a copy of the shadows' Activities List around with you, so that you can answer mentors' questions about activities if they phone up and ask you.
Coordinate activities and be a part-time mentor
It's not compulsory, but many college Access Officers really enjoy getting stuck in to the Shadowing Scheme weeks themselves, as a little reward for all that organisation. You could put on events in college for your shadows and mentors (shadows always report that they like spending time in big groups of students so that they can chat and experience the social atmosphere).
As JCR Access Officer you'd also be a great help to mentors by coordinating and being involved in the activities that shadows and mentors do. For example, lots of JCR Access Officers went to the meet-up point with mentors on the Thursday afternoons to pick up shadows in a large group. Similarly, loads of JCR Access Officers organised taking their whole group of college shadows and mentors to the annual non-pub pub quiz. It's really beneficial for both shadows and mentors when there's a good community of them within colleges.
Lent - Post-Shadowing Scheme
Responding to queries
It doesn't happen often, but there may be issues to sort out after the Shadowing Scheme. You may get questions from mentors and/or shadows about whether they can keep in touch with each other via Facebook - the official answer is no.
Mentors may want reimbursement for extra expenses. You should forward these kinds of queries on to the CUSU Access Officer.
You may also have to report to your college about how the Shadowing Scheme has gone - you don't need to prepare anything fancy.
Feed back to CUSU
We want to improve on the Shadowing Scheme every year, so we need to know how it went for you. What were the successes and what were the opportunities for improvement?
You can email the CUSU Access Officer to let them know, or wait until it gets discussed in your next Access Officer meeting.