Trinity College Cambridge and Villiers Park Educational Trust join forces in first-of-its-kind partnership to boost students’ educational achievement

Published: 19 Sep 2016

The young people with the highest academic potential from the lowest income backgrounds are the most severe underachievers in the UK today.  A new partnership, announced today, will help them to overcome the numerous and complex obstacles to success.

Trinity College Cambridge is supporting Villiers Park Educational Trust’s Scholars Programme in Swindon to help raise the educational attainment of students from lower income backgrounds and increase access to leading universities.

Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, Professor Les Ebdon, welcomed the pioneering partnership, the first of its kind between a Cambridge College and Villiers Park, a national expert in post-14 learning. Prof Ebdon said:

Villiers Park Educational Trust is doing important and useful work to help widen access to universities with the highest entrance requirements. Their Scholars Programme in Swindon is an interesting and exciting scheme, and I look forward to seeing the impact of their new partnership with Trinity College Cambridge.

Trinity has committed £150,000 over three years to support the Trust’s Scholars Programme in Swindon, an area where only 24% of 18 year-olds go on to higher education, compared to the national average of 35%.

One of seven regional programmes, the Swindon Scholars Programme will support 120 students each year through one-to-one sessions with Learning Mentors, undergraduate e-mentors, workshops, masterclasses and residential courses in Cambridge. Villiers Park CEO, Richard Gould, said:

These activities inspire the Scholars to fulfil their potential by helping them develop a passion for learning and it raises their aspirations, attainment and the skills needed to succeed. This new partnership will foster this focus on educational excellence.

 

Jenny Wilkins (Swindon Programme Manager, Villiers Park Educational Trust), Ammara Javed (Villiers Park INVOLVE mentee), Harry Jones (Scholar alumnus at Cambridge University), Richard Gould, Prof Adrian Poole, Will Penfold (Year 13 Scholar), Thamires Pereira-Miertschink (Year 11 Scholar) and Eliza Shreesh (Villiers Park INVOLVE mentee)

Jenny Wilkins (Swindon Programme Manager, Villiers Park Educational Trust), Ammara Javed (Villiers Park INVOLVE mentee), Harry Jones (Scholar alumnus at Cambridge University), Richard Gould, Prof Adrian Poole, Will Penfold (Year 13 Scholar), Thamires Pereira-Miertschink (Year 11 Scholar) and Eliza Shreesh (Villiers Park INVOLVE mentee)

Trinity Admissions Tutor, Professor Adrian Poole, said the partnership reflected the College’s commitment to academic excellence, regardless of a student’s background or financial situation.

We recognise that the factors affecting educational achievement are many and often deep-rooted. Raising aspirations and improving attainment is a complex task, not something that happens overnight. We have been impressed by the results Villiers Park has achieved, and we are pleased to collaborate with them in their carefully planned Scholars Programme in Swindon.

Mr Gould agreed that, while raising educational attainment was not easy, the Scholars Programme proved it could be done. Of the 250 students, all from less advantaged backgrounds, who graduated from the first two Scholars Programmes between 2011-2015, 79% gained a place at university, against a national average of 18% for the most disadvantaged students in the UK. Mr Gould said:

Impact data shows that prolonged and sustained work with a group of high ability students is the key to improving the chances of less advantaged students accessing leading universities. 

Anecdotal evidence also shows that through the Scholars acting as ambassadors within their schools and colleges, the Scholars Programme is helping to raise the aspirations and attainment of their peers.

OFFA Director, Professor Ebdon, said that targeted, long-term outreach was one of the best ways to improve access to university for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It’s important that institutions involved in delivering this kind of activity make use of outcomes data to understand the effectiveness of their work.

 

ENDS

 

Notes to Editors

  • Villiers Park Educational Trust is a registered charity with over 50 years of experience – inspiring young people to fulfil their potential by helping them develop a passion for learning and raising their aspirations. The charity is committed to fair access – enabling students from less advantaged backgrounds to gain places at leading universities and to thrive once there.
  • Read what our participants say about the impact the Scholars Programme has had on their thinking, aspirations, attainment and career path
  • Impact Data: Year 13 Scholar feedback and results, August 2016
    • 63% of A-level results were grade A*- B
    • 82% gained a university place and 10% are on a GAP year before university
    • 92% increased their self-confidence and resilience
    • 80% increased their enthusiasm for learning
    • 96% isaid the programme influenced their choice of university
    • 100% of Scholar Alumni due to graduate from a leadning university in 2016 did so
  • Trinity College Cambridge is a lively community of around 600 undergraduates, 300 postgraduates and over 180 Fellows from all over the world. Founded in 1546 by Henry VIII, it is one of the largest Cambridge colleges and offers an intellectually inspiring place for students to pursue their education. www.trin.cam.ac.uk
  • The University of Cambridge is committed to widening participation, both at Cambridge and in higher education more broadly. Each year, the University and Colleges run about 4,000 widening participation events, including open days, one of the UK’s largest residential summer schools, subject masterclasses, Higher Education Taster Days, a student shadowing scheme and school visits. Cambridge is committed to the principle that no UK student should be deterred from applying for financial reasons. In 2014-15 the Cambridge Bursary Scheme awarded £6 million to more than 2200 students from low income backgrounds. www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk
  • Mentoring charity Brightside runs the E-mentoring platform for the Scholars Programme. Brightside works with over 60 different partner organisations to support over 15,000 disadvantaged young people per year, providing them with knowledge, support and connections so that they can make confident and informed decisions that enable them to fulfil their potential.
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