We are celebrating our 6 year anniversary next month and thought it would be useful to provide members, both new and old, with a guide detailing our inception and development since 2011. Having started out with just 6 members we have grown significantly in partners and team numbers in recent years and this paper helps illustrates how far we have travelled.
For the EMWPREP History document please click here.
We are excited to announce the newest member of our team – Eliot Hudson-Jones, who is the Project Officer for EMWPREP. Eliot originally trained as a PE teacher, before completing his MSc at Loughborough University and moving into research and insight. Eliot brings a wealth of data analysis and systems implementation experience, as well as a solid background in WP, to the role and we are delighted that he has joined the team.
As the academic year draws to an end, EMWPREP’s work steps up a gear as we are seeing a high level of traffic on the database and are preparing for the completion of the final partners’ specific evaluations.
Work has commenced with preparing for the new GDPR regulations which will come into effect in May 2018. Over the next couple of months, EMWPREP will be collating a new data compliance agreement and additional working policy documents, which will ensure that all of our partners are compliant with the new regulations by next May.
Details of how work is progressing can be found in our GDPR and Implications of EMWPREP Paper, which was presented at our last steering group meeting. For the GDPR and Implications Paper, please click here.
An EMWPREP GDPR working group is currently being set up with representation from partner institutions. The group will help smooth the transition into the new regulations and ensure compliance by May 2018. If you would like to volunteer to sit on the group, please contact Emma Church – E.Church@lboro.ac.uk
Our developer is making good progress on the new platform for the EMWPREP database version 2.0; it is scheduled to be delivered to us by the end of July which will give us a month of testing before launching it to all users in September.
We are keen to get users feedback and will be holding a session for super users to attend during August. Please email Emma Burr if you would like to be added to the mailing list – E.L.Burr@lboro.ac.uk
Since the last issue we have launched our new online postcode checker, which can be found on the EMWPREP database. This new postcode checker replaces the old Microsoft Access system. Pleas click here for the new postcode checker instructions.
We are currently awaiting the release of the 2015/16 HESA data to update our Progression Analysis reports. This year we will also be receiving data to add to our new EMWPREP Tracking element of our database to enable a more detailed analysis of individual activities to take place. There will be an update on analysis and report progress in the September newsletter.
We will shortly be submitting a data request of DfE to enable us to update our School Profiles.
By the end of the month all NCOP consortia will have received their in-year reports and submitted their HEFCE data returns. Over the next few months Eliot will be working through specific evaluations, and therefore will be in contact shortly to discuss requirements.
NEON Summer Symposium
Early in June, EMWPREP attended the 6th NEON Summer Symposium at Leeds Beckett University. The conference entitled ‘Widening Access in Higher Education: Are we there yet?’ was attended by over 200 delegates, and consisted of 30 paper sessions and 12 laboratory sessions as well as key note speakers.
We attended a variety of different sessions which provided possible thoughts for EMWPREP to consider in the future.
NEON have produced a handy conference summary paper, detailing the two day event. Please click here for the Neon Conference Summary paper.
More information about NEON, their events and becoming a member can be found on their website: http://www.eucationopportunities.co.uk/
For the last 3 years, EMWPREP have provided support to Bishop Grosseteste Univeristy’s (BGU) ‘The Next Steps 4 Study’ (NS4S) programme, in the form of programme evaluation base on participant feedback.
NS4S is a widening participation initiative to encourage people from disadvantaged backgrounds and those facing challenging personal circumstances to enter higher education. BGU views NS4S as an important part of its Widening Participation (WP) strategy and the Universities commitment to schools and colleges in Lincolnshire and the surrounding area.
Early consultation with partnership schools indicated that teachers felt there was greater need to prepare sixth-formers for the learning and teaching approaches they would encounter on the next stage of their learning journey. The programme is shaped by research undertaken at BGU into the first year student experience which shows that a significant proportion of students arrive at university with little understanding of how they will learn in higher education and the observation that students from isolated rural communities were likely to find the transition to university particularly socially demanding.
Schools and colleges are asked to select 25 students from Year 12 for involvement in the programme. Participating students normally meet one or more of the criteria below:
- First in the family to go to Higher Education
- In public care
- From low income backgrounds
- Have suffered ill health
- Having problems at home
- Underachieving, with the potential to progress to HE
NS4S is delivered in four sessions, which occur at regular intervals from November to July of Year 12. The focus of NS4S is the development of the independent learning skills required when students’ progress to university. In addition, the programme provides opportunities for students to seek information, advice and guidance about their progression to higher education from a range of professional support staff, academic staff and BGU student ambassadors. It is delivered through a four- step approach:
- Step 1: Outreach visit to school/college by a member of the BGU team. This step introduces students to higher education and methods of learning. (November- one hour)
- Step 2: One day visit to BGU during which students take part in a number of sessions delivered by our academic staff which allow them to explore learning approaches at University.(February)
- Step 3: Outreach visit to school/college by a member of the BGU team. This step explores research skills, linking them to students’ own research into HE. (March/April/May – one hour)
- Step 4: one-day visit to BGU. This final stage allows students to spend time with BGU student ambassadors and to develop their presentation skills. (July)
It was decided that steps 1, 2 and 4 would be evaluated via participant questionnaires, with a mixture of both quantitative and qualitative questions and it is with these questionnaires EMWPREP provide assistance in data capture, analysis and reporting.
Students were asked to complete the questionnaires, which had been designed specifically for the project in order to determine their thoughts about university, the impact of programme and if any changes had occurred during the course of the programme. Each step is analysed individually, and then for those participants who completed the evaluations for all three steps is carried out compare responses
Evaluating discrete interventions provides a useful piece of the ‘evidence jigsaw’, it helps in establishing the likelihood that specific activities are having a positive impact on beneficiaries and making a contribution to the strategic objectives of widening participation programmes. And although attaching statistical significance to findings from small-scale evaluations can be problematic – it is still important to report and comment on the findings from participant questionnaires, last year there were 92 participants who completed all the necessary steps to be included in the analysis.
Evaluation of the programme questionnaire results appears to support that there is great value in offering progression style activities at different stages in a young person’s academic lifecycle. Not only do the activities appear to enlighten and engage students about higher education generally, they also appear to help teach potential undergraduates what options and facilities are available closer to home.
Should you wish to read a copy of last year’s full report please contact a member of the EMWPREP team.
Our Links to the News
Following the recent general election and IFS report, the topic of tuition fees has been heavily discussed. New statistics have revealed that disadvantaged groups (who are targeted through widening access programmes) are the group most likely to drop out of university, and students from low income families accrue more debt than their privileged counterparts. Such figures highlight the unjust fees system, which penalises poorer students.
“It’s delusional to think tuition fees are fair. Poorer students are being penalised.”
Tackling university drop-out rate is vital.
External Training and Conferences
5th September (Cyprus) – Education and Transformative Practice, International Paolo Freire conference
6th September (Warwick) – The Article 26 2017 conference
18th September (Birmingham) – ‘Achieving change through partnership’: National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) conference