Working Group Meeting – Addressing Differential Outcomes for Ethnically Diverse Learners

NEON Working Groups

  • Date


  • Time

      2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

This working group is organised by the University of Kingston

Workshop Title: Addressing sense of belonging in higher education for working- class students in order to widen access

13th February 2024, 2.00pm – 3.30pm (online via MS Teams)

This working group serves to provide a space for addressing the challenges of establishing better outcomes for ethnically diverse learners in Higher Education and explores innovative approaches to developing good practice in this area by way of practical discussions, research/case study analysis, and peer support.

14.00-14.10 Welcome and Introductions (Karen Lipsedge, Kingston University, Chair)

14.10-14.40: Dr. Hannah Merry, Head of Higher Horizons Operations, Keele University, and Neon Award Winner (2022)

Abstract: Higher Horizons has been delivering a stable programme of outreach interventions across Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire for seven years, largely to young people from working-class backgrounds. The programme was developed with reference to our own experience as working-class young people who had progressed to university-level study, and as people who grew up in the communities we now serve. We also conducted several focus groups with teachers and learners across the area to understand their needs and what they wanted from a programme like this. During this time, we have also developed an evaluation framework which aims to measure the outcomes of its activities, which are split into three focus area: inform (information, advice and guidance about educational progression), experience (university visits and experiences), and enable (attainment raising). Higher Horizons now has seven years of evidence about what works in widening access. This workshop focuses on the delivery of our inform (IAG in schools) and experience (campus visits) activities as our evaluation shows that
participation in these activities lead to the highest rates of progression for our cohorts. 63% of participants who took part in at least one campus visit and one IAG workshop in high school subsequently progressed to HE at 18 or 19, and these activities are integral to the success of Higher Horizons. This workshop explains the focus on sense of belonging, and role modelling built into these Higher Horizons 2 activities, why we believe them to be so effective, and how you can incorporate these elements into your own practice.

Short bio: Hannah has worked in widening access since 2015, first in a delivery role, and then as Manager and Head of Higher Horizons. Hannah has been the Chair of the EMWPREP tracking service since 2016 and worked on a number of collaborative projects with the other tracking services, HEAT and AimhigherWM. Hannah regularly contributes to conferences on widening access and has been an invited speaker at conferences organised by NEON, TASO and the OfS.  In 2023, Hannah won the Contribution to Widening Access award at the NEON Awards.

14.40-15.00 Breakout groups

The breakout session provides colleagues with the opportunity to come together to discuss the project and how they could incorporate and develop the strategies provided at their institution. In your discussions, please consider the following topics:
– How do you consider the needs and experiences of those communities your activities are designed for? Do you co-produce them? Consult with teachers, learners, parents/carers etc.
– Campus visits are integral to developing a sense of belonging in HE for Higher Horizons participants – how important do you see campus visits within your own practice? Will you make any changes to their design following this workshop?
– Consistent evaluation of our programme has allowed us to identify these outcomes, and what works for our participants – does your evaluation practice allow you to do the same thing? Will you make any changes following this workshop?
– Do you use role models within your activities? How do you ensure deliverers or student ambassadors are relatable for the cohorts you are working with?
– What will you take away from this workshop and/or consider when you are next designing activities for working-class students?

15.00-15.15: Feedback and Q&A

15.15-15.30: AOB and next meeting