Aimhigher provides discrete activities as well as progressive programmes to target groups of learners who are under-represented in higher education, to stay in education and progress.
We are committed to widening the opportunities for these cohorts and work with specialist staff (Virtual Schools and SENCOs) and University Outreach departments to support these learners and key adults around them to understand the benefits of University and raise awareness of the generic and specific support available to them.
Due to the comparative small numbers we are able to track their progress and evaluate the effectiveness of their involvement in the programme.
Looked After Children Programmes
In 2017, 12 % of care leavers had entered higher education by the age of 23 compared with 42% of the population (Harrison, 2017)
The LAC network has been developing and delivering programmes since 2008. At that time 38% of students attending the programme went on to study at University, 80% of those learners went onto study at one of the 3 participating Universities as part of the ‘Into HE’ programme.
In providing a continuous and consistent experience of a series of distinct but linked experiences of University with familiar staff and undergraduates (Student Ambassadors) the Look to the Future programme aims to provide an opportunity to explore the idea of university within a targeted and structured programme supported by university undergraduates who are themselves care-experienced.
The network delivers a targeted core programme for KS4 to Post 16 learners, in addition to a range of extension activities developed through the network on an ad-hoc basis.
“I’m glad I came to all of them because I’ve learnt something different in each one”
Yr 9 Learner, Into HE, Merton
“They are more motivated because they have a higher expectation of themselves and so do we”
KS4 Curriculum Manager, Croydon
“I would’ve liked to have had the opportunity to go on a programme like this when I was at school – I wouldn’t have made some of the choices I have made”
Yr 2 Undergraduate, Kingston University
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Programmes
In 2015/16 11.3% of all undergraduates disclosed a disability, just under half of those (42%) applied for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) (ECU, 2017)
The Disability Working Group (DWG) has been in existence since 2014. In that time 78% of learners participating in the year 12 conference reported they felt more confident about applying for the DSA, and of those who reported that they weren’t aware of the DSA (38%), 94% reported that they intended to apply.
We know that outcomes are typically worse for students who have declared a disability, but who are not in receipt of DSA (HEFCE, 2017). Our current conferences are developed through the DWG with the intention of increasing the understanding of the needs of learners with SEND and supporting their transition (and the adults around them) within the context of education from one sector to another. SEND CPD conference themes are reviewed annually through the DWG.
Click here to read more about our latest SEND Learner Conference (Preparing to Progress: Transition Support for SEND).
“I didn’t know what I didn’t know before I came here if that makes sense?”
Learner, Wandsworth, Yr 12 Transitions conference
More able students from our under-represented groups
We offer comprehensive support for more able widening participation students and for the staff and parents who support them.
In addition to bespoke events and opportunities designed to nurture, enrich and challenge the more able, we offer comprehensive, impartial advice and pathways to competitive institutions, including Oxbridge. We can also assist students with their personal statements aimed at competitive institutions and also offer bespoke interview practice. This year we are continuing with the Debate Higher Oracy Project, an interschool competition to develop oracy and communication skills. A report on the pilot year of the project is available to download here.
Learners ‘at risk’ Programmes
794,000 young people aged 16-24 in England were Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) in 2017, in London alone over 10% of 16-24 year olds are NEET.
One of the most significant educational risk factors to becoming NEET is low educational attainment at GCSE. Aimhigher feels it imperative to work with those young people who are ‘at risk’ of disengaging from the education system altogether.
We offer small group interventions to learners at KS4 who are in alternative provision. In collaboration with HEIs, FECs and associated partners we offer a programme of aspiration, motivation and guidance. Sessions focus on skills for learning and employability but we couple that with aspiration raising interventions with FE and HE partners and the use of strong positive role models throughout. The aim of the programme is to increase positive engagement with current studies and support successful progression at post 16.
Click here for the Learners at Risk Pilot Project 2018 report.
“One thing I have learnt through this project is that university isn’t for one type of person”
Year 11 learner
“Thank you very much for delivering sessions to our students. They really did gain in many ways (self-esteem, confidence, team building and having fun!) from the experiences.”
Deputy Head Teacher