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Social mobility programme celebrates scholars’ success

L-R: Aron Lethbridge and Khalayi Wangamati receive their awards after being named Mike Baker Scholars of the Year during their participation in the Villiers Park Educational Trust’s Scholars Programme.

A group of Crawley students are a step closer to gaining a university place after their first year on a programme to support bright students from less advantaged backgrounds.

Since launching in the West Sussex town in 2016, the Villiers Park Educational Trust’s Scholars Programme has worked in partnership with the University of Sussex to raise the aspirations of more than 100 students in five Crawley schools and colleges.

At an end-of-year celebration last month, two of the students - Khalayi Wangamati of Ifield Community College and Aron Lethbridge of The Holy Trinity CE Secondary School – received a Mike Baker Award, given in memory of a former Villiers Park trustee to recognise and reward “exemplary attainment, attitude, contribution, attendance and progress” during the academic year.

Khalayi said: “The Villiers Park programme has definitely helped me in so many aspects. It’s helped me gain so many opportunities that I wouldn’t gain from school. They’ve given me so much support in the academic aspect as well as personally and socially.”

David Curran, Options & Pathways Coordinator at Ifield Community College, said: “Villiers Park has been invaluable to our scholars on this programme. Khalayi continues to achieve academically and along with her ever improving self-confidence and social skills, we are sure she will achieve whatever goals she sets her mind to. Many thanks to all those at Villiers Park and the University of Sussex for making this all possible.”

The other participating schools in Crawley are Oriel High School and St Wilfrid’s Catholic School, in addition to Thomas Bennett Community College.

Zoe Dawson, Programme Manager from the University of Sussex Widening Participation team, said: “Our first year has been amazing for us and the scholars. We have seen our Year 10 and Year 12 scholars take on new challenges, develop key skills and believe in their amazing abilities. We are extremely excited for the programme to restart in September and we look forward to continuing helping young people to fulfil their potential.”

Professor Clare Mackie, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at the University of Sussex, added: “We jumped at the opportunity to form this partnership with Villiers Park Educational Trust.

“At Sussex we are absolutely committed to opening the doors of the University to talented students from all backgrounds - and widening participation sits at the very heart of our overall strategy.

“We know that programmes such as the Crawley Scholars Programme can really work. The most recent cohort of students that graduated from our own similar scheme for First Generation Scholars are now outperforming their peers in the jobs market, with 90 per cent in graduate-level employment or further study.

“We want more and more talented students from under-represented groups to have the chance to achieve that kind of success.”

Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2017


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