Like many in the sector, AccessHE has been reflecting over summer on work delivered during the past academic year and looking ahead to the next one. After the summer term just passed, taking stock of achievements and sharing best practice feels more important than ever.
One thing that the period since mid-March has certainly done is demonstrate the value of the ‘outreach hub’ AccessHE delivers in north London as part of the Uni Connect programme. The hub serves to connect HE stakeholders with schools in the capital and ensure Y9+ students from underrepresented or vulnerable groups can access relevant HE outreach. The hub model has proven essential to offering ongoing online support, together with AccessHE members, to these learners during lockdown, and it has also offered a blueprint for how to continue delivering outreach over the coming year.
Our strategy post-lockdown was to ensure online activity delivered via the outreach hub could reach a mass audience but also support specific groups or areas in North London. Since schools closed on 19th March, we have:
- engaged with nearly 1000 learners across 25 online outreach events
- expanded our school network by 25%
- hired a team of 37 student advocates, who have already delivered over 80 hours of outreach activity.
This work was delivered in partnership with 13 AccessHE members. Below are just some of the groups and areas around which it was focussed:
- Fortnightly Virtual Coffee Mornings to discuss challenges and share best practice
- An online CPD conference in partnership with Aimhigher London
- AccessHE Academy – a blended-learning course for teachers and careers advisers
Vulnerable groups/groups currently underrepresented in HE
- My Future, My Way – an online event for care experienced students, advising on the specific support available when applying to higher education
- Know Before You Go: Enfield – a Y13 transitions booklet developed by AccessHE and published in partnership with Enfield Council and local schools, to support those at risk of becoming NEET
Parents and Carers
- Development of a guide to support parents and carers’ understanding of HE, including student finance and wellbeing support. The guide was informed by a focus group made up of parents, carers and students in London.
- Live Higher and Degree Apprenticeships event with Pearson College London and Amazing Apprenticeships, attracting over 500 viewers
- Havering Online Futures Week – a week of online HE subject tasters and IAG sessions for year 10 students in Havering
- AccessHE Live at the London Careers Festival – five days of interactive outreach around different subjects and career pathways
As we head into the next academic year, we take with us a number of learnings and recommendations, including the value of localised outreach, and the importance of collaboration and taking a partner-led approach. As we have become more accustomed to working with online platforms, we can also better embed evaluation and tracking of participants into our online outreach work in 2020-21.
For a full report of our 2019-20 Uni Connect work, please email NCOPHub@londonhigher.ac.uk.