This December, the team look back on a surprising year and forward to a 2021 packed with new work…
Emily (London Programmes & Communications Coordinator): I am new in post this month, and in my four weeks at AccessHE I’ve discovered quickly how much can the online Action Forums and communities of practice can do, even with a pandemic raging around us. In my first handful of meetings, I’ve seen forum members looking at 2021 with measured optimism, and appetite for new projects to tackle student progression and graduate employability in the rest of this academic year. After the initial shock of adjusting to lockdown and getting work online, London’s WP staff are looking at what they can build and rebuild longer term. I’m looking forward to working on all of it with them in the new year!
Beth (Uni Connect Outreach Coordinator N London): What a year! I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve said ‘you’re still on mute’ or ‘I’m just gonna share my screen’! Amid all the strangeness, there were definitely some Uni Connect highlights in 2020, with many more to come in the New Year. In the North Hub, the Enfield ‘Know Before You Go’ booklet – a Results Day resource to support Year 13 transitions – championed what Uni Connect is all about: collaboration. The local authority, Enfield employers and careers leads from across the borough joined together to create and print a really useful resource to support the largely-forgotten year group in terms of CIAG support. This led to a brilliant October Degree Apprenticeships event, broadcast to over 150 Enfield students. Watch this space for more collaborative work coming across Hackney, Haringey, Enfield and Waltham Forest in 2021! Feel free to get in touch with me directly to learn more about how you can be involved (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gerry (Uni Connect Outreach Coordinator NW London): Looking back at this year, many plans have of course had to change. Within many barriers there have been some opportunities. An example of this has been developing on the successful higher and degree apprenticeship online events specifically for Enfield this term. A virtual degree apprenticeships assembly was held for 59 Year 13 students from Christ’s College Finchley Sixth Form in November, with short presentations from Royal Free London Trust, Pearson College and Amazing Apprenticeships.
Working one-to-one with schools has led to teachers in the North West Outreach Hub joining the AccessHE CPD academy, aimed at supporting outreach projects led by careers leaders and delivering in new careers leader networks with Reed in Partnership and LEAN (London Enterprise Advisor Network). In 2021 I am looking forward to seeing how these projects could become collaborative in the local area serving more students, and local communities.
Michelle (Uni Connect Outreach Coordinator NE London): This month saw the launch of the last of our AccessHE Live year 12/13 series, offering workshops on whether to study at home or away, choosing the right course, personal statements, and more. The workshops will remain available on our YouTube channel here. We have also relaunched our Virtual Coffee Mornings for Teachers and Careers Leaders; we have had brilliant guest speakers from our partner schools and member HEIs and look forward to continuing these in 2021. If you would like to sign up, you can do so via our events page.
This month I have also been planning a pilot to support pupils and their families from two Havering primary schools, thinking about their future selves and education pathways. The programme will bring together local ‘HE ambassadors’, local businesses and partner HEIs to help deliver the project and will launch in Spring 2021.
AccessHE are also excited to be partnering with Creative Futures and four of our member HEIs to deliver a creative education programme for care-experienced students in London. Centred on a film-making project, participants will be immersed a range of arts disciplines while receiving information, advice and guidance about HE, and learning about career pathways and HE routes into the arts. This will go live in February 2021 – watch this space!
Mair (Uni Connect Officer): We have been looking for ways we can facilitate our partner schools in Barking & Dagenham and Havering, as they aim to make up the lost learning time owing to Covid-19. We have developed a new Online Mentoring Programme (OMP) which will run as 1-hour sessions over 10 weeks, covering a range of topics with the overarching aim to encourage the young people to progress into higher education. Delivered by current university students, learners in year 9 upwards will have sustained access to advice and guidance from those who have experience of HE study. We have recruited 11 Mentors to commence delivery in one of our partner schools in the new year with the intention to roll it out wider thereafter.
Tayler (Uni Connect Outreach Coordinator Central London): Over the past term, I’ve been working hard with the UniConnect team to design and coordinate online outreach opportunities for students throughout north London. We’ve also used this time to anticipate a transition to in-person delivery in 2021. We’ve developed robust safeguarding measures to deliver opportunities in the spring and summer term, notably a funded February Half-Term school with students in the E3 postcode area. Separately, I’ve been planning a collaborative week of curriculum catch-up and sport activities with the West Ham United Foundation: a four-day programme which will target students from White Working Class backgrounds in East London.
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