AccessHE Team Spotlight – November 2019

December 5, 2019

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. In November (check out our previous entry here) our Spotlight shone to reveal…

Richard (Deputy Head of AccessHE): November has been an incredibly active month of delivery for AccessHE, with new and continuing activity happening on virtually all fronts. I’ve been involved in most of that in some way, shape or form, so there are plenty of highlights to choose from! Our established Uni Connect programmes with partner schools in Barking & Dagenham and Havering have recommenced and will, we hope, be rolled out in further schools soon. I’ve had the chance to speak to new prospective partners along with Naz in recent weeks and it’s great to see potential areas for collaboration coming into view.

At the same time, we continue to engage with schools and local authorities through our Uni Connect outreach hub, getting our ears to the ground in an effort to learn more about how we can strengthen links between these organisations and our HEI membership. We convened an outreach hub ‘information event’ for AccessHE members in mid-November and heard some great suggestions there as to how we align our Uni Connect work with Access and Participation Plans. Other projects such as our student ambassador training and employability programme have also started in earnest, and I really enjoyed meeting the participating ambassadors when launching that initiative. They were treated to a project management workshop as part of the launch events, and hopefully they won’t have seen me frantically scribbling down notes during that session, otherwise they may have some questions about AccessHE’s credentials…

Finally, and a little belatedly: welcome to those AccessHE members joining in 2019/20, and welcome back to renewing members! Sorry to have pestered you all with so many project-related emails in the first few weeks of this academic year: we have quite a few things in the pipeline and it’s great to be working with you on those.

Geraldine (Uni Connect Outreach Hub Coordinator – NW London): This month I’ve prioritised getting in touch with schools within the boroughs of the North West London Outreach Hub ( Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Harrow). Schools are very, very busy places, so it has been great to know that members of staff were willing to take time out to discuss how Uni Connect can benefit them. Meeting with Career Leads has led to really interesting conversations about the fantastic work happening in London with disadvantaged students, but also opportunities to collaborate and serve the school and local community around Higher Education Progression. The information gathered fed into the Member AccessHE roundtable meeting, where universities were able to communicate with us how they see the Outreach hub working for them. This was also useful when attending the NCS/Uni Connect conference where discussions were held about how the two organisations have commonalities and could collaborate to support young people. From the students, teaching staff, universities and organisations there has been a lot of information to gather and get my head around, but this month has allowed me to get a greater picture of the excellent practice and room for opportunity in North West London I hope to develop.

Tanyel (AccessHE London Programmes and Communications Coordinator): What a month – my birthday month – which ended up being more of a birth’week’ of celebrations! My November kicked off with a training session on ‘Key Skills for Widening Access’ delivered by our colleagues over in NEON, which was really interesting and useful for filling in knowledge gaps. Did you know that the oldest example on UK record of a widening access to education initiative was the founding of the King’s School, a public/charity school in the year 597?! We also delivered University Information Day 2019 for Disabled and Dyslexic Learners, kindly hosted and supported by colleagues at London Met (event coverage/write-up coming soon).

The middle of the month then saw Richard and busy with delivery. We ran an information webinar for the AccessHE Disability Forum on a project for a Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) resource toolkit (proposal document here if you’re interested). It was great to gather ideas and feedback from members on the resources that could feature in this toolkit. That afternoon, we then delivered the first of two launches of the inaugural Student Ambassador Employability Project, an output of the AccessHE Student Ambassador Forum. This was at the University of East London, alongside three other member HEIs (London School of Economics and Political Science, Royal Veterinary College and University of Sussex) with a standalone launch delivered for new AccessHE member, Queen Mary, University of London towards the end of November. A number of our Action Forums also met for the first time this academic year: BAME Forum, Care Experienced and Estranged Students (CEES) Forum and Creative Forum. In particular, it was great for the CEES Forum to welcome and engage new colleagues from London-based virtual schools and local authorities under the direction of our new Chair, Messiah. There was lots of exciting discussion about ways we can be working together. As I catch my breath typing this, I’ve been finishing up the month working on the AccessHE-UKADIA Creative HE Apply Guide. Phew – busy busy busy!

Ella and Sia (Team Uni Connect): On Friday 22nd November, Ian Cownley from Ravensbourne University joined our Year 11s at Drapers’ Academy to deliver a session on Augmented Reality. Students drew pictures which were then brought into (virtual) reality. Seeing the look on the faces of our group as their screens lit up with moving images of their own designs was something truly magical! Not only did this stir up ambitions in the room for those interested in the creative industries, but augmented reality will be part of…well…reality, in future careers in an extraordinary range of industries, including engineering, medicine and teaching. While some of our Year 13 learners are coming to the end of their time with us this term and looking forward to a celebration event on Wednesday 11 December, our Year 11 learners are also looking forward to an exciting visit to City University on the 17 December just before wrapping up for the Christmas holidays. 

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