Issue date: 19 December 2001

The autumn term has seen a large number of higher education awareness raising activities organised by the Widening Participation Support Team at the University of the West of England.

In total over 120 pupils from local primary and secondary schools have participated in Aiming Higher events on-site at the Frenchay Campus of UWE plus many more off-site events on school premises.

These events introduce the culture of higher education to non-traditional and under-represented groups in fun and non-threatening ways. All events also involve parents either on the day or at parent/pupil events prior to the day.

Evaluation of all events revealed similar findings:

At the beginning of each day up to 80% of participants knew very little about HE and were either not interested or had given it no thought.

By the end of the day 95-99% of participants expressed an interest in progression to HE.

Results from parents were similar: initially they wanted their child to do well in their GCSE’s, leave school, and get a “good” job. By the end of the sessions most parents realised the investment potential of HE and would encourage and support their child to actively consider HE as an option for them.

Twenty-one Year 6 pupils from Whitehouse Primary School (in the Hartcliffe area of Bristol) and their parents visited UWE on 6 December. The school, currently under threat of closure, has successfully raised pupils’ achievement in Science (up 44%), Maths (up 20%) and English (up 15%) each year for the last three years. An Aiming Higher Day at UWE provided fun and interactive science activities for pupils, parents and teachers to further support this achievement.

In the afternoon pupils made rockets from lemonade bottles with the help of scientists at UWE.

Sally Mlewa, the Headteacher at Whitehouse Primary School says the day had enormous benefits for the children, their parents and the staff:

“The Rocket science was brilliant! The whole day made the children more aware of being at university as an option and they were able to see that ordinary people go to university. These children now consider university as an option for them and it puts a whole new light on going to school. We call them our ‘pupils with a purpose’ because they can see the purpose of going to school and the transition to secondary school has more meaning for them. They came back from the day full of ideas as to how they can get to university. These children are not without ability just lacking in aspiration. But they now all consider HE as an option for them.”

Editor’s notes

1. Jpeg image attached (Ace 8) Caption: Children from Whitehouse Primary School get a taste for science in one of the laboratories at UWE. Contact the press office for further images.

2. The University undertakes 57 different initiatives in the region to widen access, including:
 The one-plus-one mentoring scheme - 60 student mentors, working with schools and colleges in the region
 The use of over 100 Student Ambassadors to raise awareness in HE
 Student Tutoring in local schools
 Aiming Higher days where primary schools come on mass to the University
 Talks to groups of primary school pupil’s parents
 The Black and Asian Students into schools project
 University taster sessions
 Maths, Engineering and History masterclasses
 Summer/Saturday Schools
 “Graphic Science”, “Seeing is believing” and other initiatives aimed at getting school pupils interested in science
 Languages Day and “Languages in primary schools”
 A city centre IT training centre open to all ages open from 7.30am ‘til late

A UWE Higher Education Compact scheme recognised by the Bristol LEA

Entry criteria that recognises a very wide range of qualifications. Some 31% of UWE’s total undergraduate student intake have qualifications other than A levels. Yet the University has a relatively high A level and equivalent requirement.

One third of students are mature. Retention rates for these students are among the best in the country according to HEFCE performance Indicators

UWE has opened a £16m building dedicated to supporting education in the region through providing initial and continuing professional development for teachers.

UWE have been instrumental in gaining support for the St Georges City Academy, the first in the South West

UWE is the 4th largest recruiter in the country from state schools (3,084)

UWE is the 12th largest recruiter in the country from social class IIIM,IV,V

UWE is the 29th largest recruiter in the country from low participation neighbourhoods

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