Welcome back to Team Spotlight, a light-hearted section of our monthly Connect e-bulletin (free and open to all – subscribe to it here). Here, you can discover who we are at AccessHE and what we’ve all been up to over the past month or so. Through February, our Spotlight shone to reveal…
Tanyel (London Programmes Coordinator): February was a mixed month, with great activity tainted by a sad ‘au revoir’ wished to some of our colleagues, including Sia and Ella (who will be working for us in a freelance capacity). We had the first meeting of the AccessHE Student Advisory Group, a student-led network playing an important role in the design and evaluation of various AccessHE projects, in line with the OfS’ guidance around student engagement and partnership. Our first meeting set a solid benchmark to explore initial themes of interest raised by the students which we hope to build on later this year.
Continuing the theme of student-led initiatives, I checked in with Student Ambassador Employability Project teams at Queen Mary, Sussex and the LSE. I have really enjoyed seeing each project taking shape and the enthusiasm displayed by all across the board, so well done to our students on their efforts so far! Our Student Ambassador Forum, Mature and Part-Time Students and Creative Forums all met too. I was particularly pleased to welcome the Newham Music Education Hub during the latter meeting; it was fascinating to hear about the great work they do for talented young musicians from deprived backgrounds. This has certainly inspired me to get further involved on a personal level with youth social mobility. On this note – if I may do a little plug (!) – I am running the Hackney Half Marathon, raising money for ReachOut UK, a youth mentoring charity I am involved with outside of AccessHE. I’d be immensely grateful to anyone that could quickly check out my page, and eternally humbled if you could please gather any loose change to sponsor me!
Tayler (Outreach Coordinator – Central London): Over the last month, a range of new stakeholders have been introduced to the UniConnect (formerly NCOP) project. Amongst those meetings was the opportunity to meet and discuss pathways through Sport and Health with a representative from UCFB at Wembley Stadium and the London Legacy Development Corporation in Stratford. Both institutions shared certain strategic objectives around participation at HE, with the Olympic Stadium steadily becoming a new educational hub by hosting UCL, Loughborough, Birkbeck, and the London College of Fashion (amongst others). As well as meeting with target schools throughout the central hub, I have met a number of local authorities and allied organisations which shared aspirations for their respective young people. In Tower Hamlets, I met with the Tower Hamlets Education Partnership and the Tower Hamlets Business Education Partnership. Similarly, in Hammersmith and Fulham, I met with the borough’s lead secondary advisor to discuss progression data and OFSTED.
Ella and Sia (Team Schools Events)!: On the 10th February the Year 13 students at Drapers’ Academy in Havering were joined by two Student Ambassadors from the University of East London and the LSE for their NCOP celebration event, marking the end of their NCOP programme. As our Year 13s reflected back on their time with us and how key sessions will help with shaping their decision making about higher education and career options, they also had an opportunity to ask the Student Ambassadors some burning questions about their experiences of university life and their journey to pursuing higher education. One of the student ambassadors shared her inspiring journey of transitioning between different cultures, languages and academic systems in three different countries in order to study a course in the UK she is passionate to build a career in – a lesson for us all on self-motivation and determination
Geraldine (Outreach Hub Coordinator – North East London):The outreach hub hopes to provide a platform for local collaborative activity, so I have spent the past month trying to understand the provision for young people in the community and the link to progression in higher education. I have been able to meet with the Young Barnet and Young Brent foundation to gain an understanding of the priorities in their communities and explore how the outreach hub may be of help to their members who work in them. With their support I was able to speak to over 30 representatives from charities for young people in Barnet, leading to conversations about how the hub can support them improving relationships with schools and/or relationships with higher education institutions for ‘hard to reach’ young people they serve with their charities.
As well as exploring events with the outreach hub coordinators to support white working class boys, looked after children and degree apprenticeships, another focus of my attention has arisen from multiple needs assessments of schools. A forum to share best practice and champion careers and higher education progression is an area of interest for many in Brent. I hope to develop this to eventually become a platform for collaboration throughout the academic year and onwards. If you are interested in the collaborative opportunity please contact Geraldine.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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