Roundtable meeting with the Department for Education


On Monday 22 January 2018, a number of staff from AccessHE member institutions joined colleagues from the System Partnerships Unit (SPU) at the Department for Education, as well as HEFCE and OFFA, to discuss establishing new school partnerships.

Many successful arrangements already exist between HEIs and schools; the System Partnerships Unit at the Department for Education has been formed to build on this success to encourage and support more universities to consider building strong relationships with their local schools to increase the number of good school places, tackle disadvantage and increase social mobility.

Following an introduction to the Unit’s activities and objectives, attendees heard about an existing partnership in practice: the Upward Bound programme at London Metropolitan University. Taking inspiration from similar projects in the USA, the Upward Bound programme is run in partnership with Islington Council and aims to raise attainment for young people attending Islington secondary schools through a series of Saturday morning teaching sessions.

Attendees then split into three smaller groups to discuss opportunities, challenges and how to set the conditions for and measure success. With forms of possible activity being quite varied (including but not limited to school sponsorship, participating in teacher training initiatives, supporting curriculum development or raising attainment projects), institutions were able to share their own experiences and suggestions for how the SPU could support them in developing effective and sustainable partnerships.

We’re very grateful to our DfE, HEFCE and OFFA colleagues and to our members for making this roundtable a success, and we hope to continue this dialogue and support our members in cross-sector collaboration.

Colleagues who would like further information from the SPU are encouraged to get in touch via system.partnerships@education.gov.uk. AccessHE will be producing some notes from the meeting to circulate to members – please don’t hesitate to contact sam.turner@londonhigher.ac.uk for further information.