The work of local educators across Leicester and Leicestershire to encourage young people to progress to higher education have received a boost today as it was announced that the local REACH Partnership will over the next two years receive £240,000 in government funding after being chosen as one of the new HEFCE National Networks for Collaborative Outreach.
The funding is being provided from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to encourage local higher education providers to work together to enhance the support provided to local schools. As part of its application, the REACH Partnership has identified several priority areas for this investment which include developing the partnership’s website http://www.reach.ac.uk, enhancing the ability of schools and colleges to deliver sessions to their pupils through the provision of new materials and training for school staff members, increasing its work with students from hard to reach groups and improving the ability of the partnership to evaluate the effectiveness of its work. It is also planned that the partnership will expand to provide support for teachers and pupils in local post-16 education and special schools.
The REACH Partnership was founded in 2011 to continue the work of Aim Higher Leicester and Leicestershire. Over the past three years it has:
- Provided local secondary schools with a single point of contact for information about outreach activities provided by the three universities and developed publicity materials to explain the interventions on offer to local schools
- Modified outreach activities provided by the universities to develop ‘activity pathways’ where interventions offered by one institution feed into those offered by another
- Provided forums where local educational stakeholders and outreach practitioners can share best practice
- Held annual partnership conferences for local head teachers and widening participation coordinators The partnership is governed by a Management Board that brings together educational stakeholders from across Leicestershire and is chaired by the headteachers of a local city and county school. Its services are coordinated by an independent member of staff and supported by VESA. Based at the University of Leicester with funding also being provided by De Montfort University and Loughborough University, it currently has an operating budget of £60,000. This existing investment means that rather than building a collaborative network from scratch as is the case in many areas in Leicester and Leicestershire the government funding can be used to further develop the work of the REACH Partnership. [ENDS]
- For more information on REACH Partnership please contact Colin Rainey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07710 631538.
- ‘As well as providing co-ordinated coverage of outreach activity, we are keen that the NNCO scheme contributes innovative approaches to the interaction between higher education institutions and schools and colleges. We will be evaluating the scheme to ensure that innovation can be shared amongst networks and quickly benefit schools and colleges and the students they support.’
- ‘We have been impressed by the higher education sector’s response to this scheme, which means that vital information about how to progress into higher education will be available to people across England. We set out to establish coverage of state-funded secondary schools and sixth form colleges and, through the support of the sector, this will be achieved.
- Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:
- ‘A record number of students entered higher education in 2014, with entry rates for students from disadvantaged backgrounds increasing by over 10% to its highest ever level. However there is still more work to do to ensure all students who want to study hard can benefit, irrespective of their background.”
- ‘Higher education is a transformational experience and the future of the UK economy depends on having highly-trained graduates so it is vital that young people have the right information about progressing into higher education. This programme will ensure that schools and colleges across England can help their students learn about higher education in the classroom, online and through local outreach activity.
- Greg Clark, Minister for Universities and Science, welcomed the networks, saying:
- Taken from HEFCE Press Release
- “The REACH Partnership was founded in 2011 to continue the work of Aimhigher to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to progress onto higher education. While we are proud that Leicester and Leicestershire was one of the few areas in the country that was able to bring schools, colleges and universities together to continue this important work we know that there is still more to do. That is why we are excited at the opportunity for further developing our partnership and enhancing the support it provides local young people provided to us by the additional funding we will receive through the HEFCE National Networks for Collaborative Outreach”.