Graduate Scholar in Residence: Expanding the Learning Experience

In 2021, Alleyn's School introduced the Graduate Scholar in Residence programme conceived to help enhance the teaching and learning experience for Upper School students and to give them an insight into the world of universities and academia. Here, Filippo Ursitti,  PhD student in Critical Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London talks about his experience, under the guidance of Head of Philosophy Mr Lewis Geldeard, as the first Graduate Scholar at Alleyn's.

Before my arrival at Alleyn’s School, I found myself contemplating the challenges of making accessible university and scholarly material to school pupils in terms of both content and methodological approach. I was also not sure of how attractive my talks would be to the pupils. I was concerned about how I would facilitate collaboration between the students, and enable my scholarly experience to complement Alleyn's holistic education. But upon arriving at Alleyn's, my worries were swept away immediately by the vibrant, welcoming, and supportive atmosphere at the school. My experience would not have been so positive without the immense support given to me by the entire school staff. Aidan Sproat-Clements, Anita Joshi, Lewis Geldeard, Min-Kyung Pullan, and Olivia Gavin – and of course the great members of the canteen staff! – are some of the people who inspired me by personifying the passion and commitment that every single staff member at Alleyn’s embodies. Through their helpful guidance and suggestions, I breathed the constructive, encouraging and inspiring atmosphere that fills the school.

I must of course extend my thanks to the pupils at Alleyn’s. As soon as I began working on my Wednesday talks, I felt the urge to present the pupils with the most diverse and creative topics – critical philosophy, poetry, history, and dystopias to name a few – because of how inquisitive and inclined to learn the students were. More often than I would have anticipated, our talks led to fascinating debates among the class. More than a wonderful opportunity to contribute to and expand dialogue about teaching, learning, and introducing pupils to the university world, the Graduate Scholar in Residence programme became a superb occasion to foster awareness, cultivate discovery and spread the love for learning. All these would not take place without the pupils’ passionate participation.

This highlights the many benefits of programmes like Graduate Scholar in Residence. For although teaching is one of the primary activities that scholars engage in, the fundamental link between schools and universities is often overlooked. This can make it difficult for newly admitted undergraduates to find a sense of belonging and agency at university. But through the Graduate Scholars in Residence programme, students are more empowered to share ideas, discuss themes, ask questions, and reflect on what pursuing a university path might mean. This is an important part of pupils' life journey, and I was honoured to be able to contribute to it

My experience with the Graduate Scholars in Residence programme has enriched my personal development too. Throughout my time at Alleyn’s, I have focused on contributing to the skill-building mission that the school cherishes and so profoundly campaigns for. My post revolved around sharpening pupils’ reasoning skills through showcasing practical engaging teaching ideas as well as the logic behind them. I have truly enjoyed having a chance to practise my skills in delivering and explaining scholarly content while simultaneously reflecting upon why and how I would do so. The inspiration that I acquired in the process was so enlightening that it led me to make several changes in my own doctoral thesis.

Once again, my time at Alleyn’s could not have been so pleasant and fruitful without Alleyn’s staff support and that is why I will always remain grateful for your boundless support and impeccable ethos. 

By Filippo Ursitti, Graduate in Residence 2021-22