Widening Participation

At our school we are so grateful to the many organisations that are prepared to work with us to create amazing opportunities for our students.  One of our strongest and longest partnerships has been with the University of Hertfordshire. Their amazing Widening Participation team offer our school a broad range of events to engage them with higher education.  Over the last few weeks our older students have been able to access residential revision opportunities, our year 9s have been on a pathfinder visit to the university, our sixth form students have been trained to mentor our year 8s and we have been putting the finishing touches to our residential summer school for our newest year 7 students. None of these opportunities would be available to us were it not for the outreach work of the university. 

What impresses me most about the University of Hertfordshire’s approach is that their Widening Participation team are completely separate from the marketing department.  The events they offer are not about getting students to apply to their university, they are about ensuring students are given the best possible advice, guidance and support to allow them to achieve their future ambitions.  We also love the fact that our work with this team is a genuine partnership.  Both parties are able to advise and guide each other about how best to work with the young people in our community.

An example of this approach was seen last night when university colleagues attended our termly parent forum meeting.  As well as sharing the excellent work they do, there were a number of discussions with parents about how to improve the advice and guidance we all provide.  We all have plenty to think about following this meeting; in particular we all need to continue to myth-bust around the cost of university and student finance, we need to provide pathway information even earlier to parents and students.  The team last night felt we should be discussing higher education from year 8 onwards.  As always, I am extremely grateful for the fantastic support we receive from the university and our parents and we look forward to using last night’s information to further improve our excellent work in this area.