UK universities are making strides in reaching out to students from less advantaged backgrounds but there are still many under the radar.
Founded in July 2015, the King’s Scholars programme has worked to date with more than 600 year 7-9 pupils from 13 local London schools. The programme aims to encourage pupils from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to apply to, and succeed at, top universities.
Much of the scheme is focused on raising the attainment of these inner city pupils, providing information, guidance, and reassurance on how to progress to higher education, and also engaging parents and guardians in pupils’ education
Recent research has shown that the work is having a very positive impact upon pupils’ confidence and self-belief. A survey found that 84% of participants said the initiative has improved their study skills, while 95% said that they can now see themselves attending university.
The programme is split into three years. Year 7 provides an introduction to university through Campus Activity Days and Student Ambassador visits to school, before Year 8 offers pupils the opportunity to explore and enjoy a vast array of subjects. The Design a University Day in October, the Subject Love Letter competition in January, and a 3 day Spring Up School in May, all provide the chance to investigate new, exciting and engaging university subjects. Once this subject exploration is complete, Year 9 offers careers and qualification guidance, alongside sessions that will prepare pupils for GCSEs.
*Earlier this year, King’s Widening Participation also launched a new website- gameplan.ac.uk – which compliments the programme and provides 10 to 14 year olds and their parents with advice on how to progress to university.