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Different students, different needs – Supporting pupil premium students

Even just considering higher education can be a massive step for students from a neighbourhood where participation in university education is low. Sometimes key influencers, such as parents, offer a negative or blinkered view of HE institutions.

Higher education won’t be the right path for every student, but we want every student to be aware and consider the possibility of whether university is for them. Challenging the misconceptions about higher education is a key part of my work.

A flexible approach is needed. Most young people have an aspiration of where they would like to be, right from the “what do you want to be when you grow up” type questions from primary school. But for a lot of young people, the subsequent steps that need to be taken are unclear.

I believe in working with students from early on in their education. Research has shown that sustained interaction leads to the best outcome for students. To support that, all universities have an ‘Outreach’ or ‘Widening Participation’ team.

Quite often, events aimed at pupil premium students are free, but you may want to consider the transport to such events as a way to spend some pupil premium funding. From Year 5 to Year 13, events can be tailored to best suit your student’s needs.

As well as subject specific events, we concentrate on working with you, as a teacher, to raise the attainment of your students. Most universities can help support students in developing transferable skills on their path to higher education. In Key Stage 3 and 4, study skills workshops can be invaluable to help students to organise themselves to be the best they can be.

By working with universities we can enrich and enhance work that you are already doing in your classroom or school as a whole. We also offer extra-curricular subjects, such as improving self-esteem, survival skills for the world of work and wellbeing sessions.

All the events I run are supported by a team of Student Ambassadors. I can’t emphasise enough how amazing our ambassadors, coming from all walks of life, are as role models for the young people they interact with at our events.

They can provide the mental jump that is required for a young person to see themselves as a future university student.

The choice of university is open to all your students, but our work with UK teachers is crucial for providing them with signposts and waymarkers to follow a fulfilling and happy path after school.

Posted by Vanessa Tarling on Tue, 31 Jan 2017

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Vanessa has experience as an Outreach Officer at the University of East Anglia, where she worked to raise the aspirations of school students in Norwich. She is also a PGCE graduate, and was project lead for UEA’s Next Steps Scheme, providing schools with placements to help undergraduates and postgraduates decide if a career in teaching is for them. Also a Chemistry graduate, she spent one year placed in the French mountains analysing milk samples.

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