Latest staff news
Sussex holds its first conference on widening participation
The University's first widening participation conference, held on Wednesday (24 October), encouraged discussion about how schools, colleges and universities can work together to help young people who have no family tradition of higher education.
University of Sussex staff involved in widening participation came together at the Conference Centre in Bramber House with teachers from 36 partner schools and colleges in London and Sussex as well as representatives from partner organisations such as Aimhigher London South.
“The event had a great diversity of participants,” said one delegate, ”and challenged my thinking on WP and education generally.”
Sarah Cullen, Head of Widening Participation at Sussex, added: “The conference was a great opportunity for us all to meet and network and to discuss widening participation in the context of increased student tuition fees and other current issues.”
The 115 delegates heard about the First-Generation Scholars scheme at Sussex, which supports students whose parents have not been to university, as well as those from low-income families.
University of Sussex staff and researchers were among those who led workshops:
- Fidelma Hanrahan, a PhD student in Psychology who has been carrying out research with students who have been excluded or attend pupil referral units, discussed what can be done to re-engage these disaffected young people.
- Clare Hardman, Student Experience Project Coordinator, gave teachers some practical tools to help support their students with study skills.
- Catherine Reynolds and Alison Brown showed how the Careers and Employability Centre supports Sussex students to understand the graduate labour market and present themselves effectively to potential employers.
- David Winstanley, Head of Undergraduate Recruitment, led a session on writing effective references and personal statements.
There were also sessions by external organisations including IntoUniversity, which provides educational support to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds; the Brilliant Club, which aims to widen access to top universities for outstanding students from disadvantaged backgrounds; the Brightside Trust, an education charity that offers online mentoring; and the East Sussex Virtual School for Looked After Children.
Professor Steve Higgins from Durham University gave the keynote address (described as “brilliant and eye-opening” by one delegate); this focused on how the pupil premium (additional government funding to schools for pupils from low-income families) can be used effectively.
The panel on the ‘Question Time’ session at the end of the day included Andy Westwood (Chief Executive of GuildHE, representative body for a number of higher education institutions) and Lee Elliott Major from the Sutton Trust, which improves educational opportunities for young people from non-privileged backgrounds.
If you'd like to leave a comment, enter your ITS username, password, and your comment. The comment may need approval before it is displayed, so don't expect your comment to appear right away.
By submitting a comment you are agreeing to the Acceptable Use Policy.