Support for teachers will boost access to leading universities

New Delhi: Boosting support for teachers working with pupils on their university applications could significantly increase their chance of attending a leading university, new analysis of a widening participation programme involving the University of Sheffield has suggested.

An evaluation report found teachers using free resources provided by the Advancing Access initiative recorded increased confidence in their ability to help pupils through the university application process.

Led by the 24 members of the Russell Group of universities – including the University of Sheffield – the Advancing Access initiative provides targeted assistance for teachers to help ensure students with talent, potential and ability are fully informed on their higher education options.

The University of Sheffield has a longstanding commitment to widening participation and each year works with over 500 local and regional schools and colleges and engages with over 40,000 outreach participants across the UK. Over 90 per cent of young people undertaking the University’s sustained outreach programmes have no family history of higher education and Sheffield’s record in this area makes the University one of the leading Russell Group universities for widening participation.
The new initiative aims to further improve work in this area. Resources have been developed in partnership with teachers in schools with low progression to university and include guidebooks, information sheets, presentations, student resources and video case studies.

Of the teachers who used the resources provided online at the Advancing Access website:

93 per cent said that the material improved their ability to help students write personal statements, with 69 per cent of respondents reporting that it had made a significant difference.

93 per cent of teachers said that they would write better academic references as a result of having used Advancing Access resources.

89 per cent said that the website would improve their ability to help pupils prepare for interviews.

More than one third of teachers said they were more likely to encourage their students to apply to a leading university after using the materials or participating in an Advancing Access digital conference.

The findings of the initial evaluation report were revealed as Advancing Access opened registrations for a second online event and launched new resources designed to help teachers support pupils during the application process, inform them on admissions processes and provide information on Key Stage 4 and 5 qualifications.

James Busson, Chair of the Russel Group Widening Participation Association and Head of Outreach and Widening Participation at the University of Sheffield, said: “Advancing Access is at an early stage but these early findings are hugely positive. Teachers who are using these resources, or who participated in our virtual conference, are boosting the chances of their pupils making a successful application and attending a leading university.

“With new resources on admissions, the application process and post-16 qualifications now online we would encourage teachers working on university applications to take advantage of the support that is available.”

Next month (9 June 2017), the University will be hosting a conference at The Diamond building for teachers, managers and advisers at schools and colleges, who have responsibility for supporting students applying to university.

The event is aimed at exploring current issues in admissions, recruitment and outreach and will equip delegates with updated practical information to take back to their workplace, for colleagues and learners.