The anticipation was palpable in August as students across the UK eagerly awaited their GCSE and A-Level results. While there were terrific stories of success, there was also a fair share of disappointment, with a higher proportion of students than we’ve seen before missing out on predicted grades. This aligns with the nationally reported picture and the decline in A and A* grades to pre-pandemic levels. Amid this uncertainty there were, however, Future Leaders who achieved some brilliant results through their hard work and determination.
As the country collectively examined the data from UCAS, one stark revelation emerged. In their analysis, dataHE found that the entry rate for young people from state schools into university has dropped from 24.7% last year to 23.1%.
This decline described as ‘unprecedented’ translated to students from under-represented backgrounds being over 6% less likely to secure a spot at university compared to the previous year. This unsettling statistic begs the question, how can we address this growing gap in access to higher education?
At Villiers Park, a core focus has been the development of a robust 'Skills for Success' framework, encompassing traits like confidence, resilience and creativity. Our team has worked hard to embed the development of these traits into their programmes so students are able to respond effectively when faced with unexpected or challenging situations.
On A-Level results day, and in the weeks following, our Programmes Team coached Future Leaders through clearing and guided them through the practicalities of student finance and accommodation. It is a positive reflection of the skills that Future Leaders have developed that they can adapt to situations they weren’t expecting and the strong, trusted relationships that had been cultivated with students and school partners over time.
Amidst the challenges, there were remarkable success stories to be celebrated:
“I have just had my first week at the University of Bristol. I plan on doing 4 years of Aerospace engineering here (Meng). Perhaps I change it to a year in industry as employers greatly appreciate experience nowadays.”
Gaby Sumner, Chief Executive of Villiers Park said:
“I’m immensely proud of all our Future Leaders who received their A-level results this summer. From Hastings and Bexhill to Tyneside, Swindon to Norfolk, young people involved with Villiers Park have worked hard with dedication and passion, often in challenging circumstances, to reach this point. And it’s a testament to the efforts of our schools' team and the teachers and staff we work with.”
At Villiers Park, we are proud to see the impact of our Future Leaders programme and the skills for success that young people develop. Our support doesn’t stop when young people leave school and college: this year we have developed a new Transition to Success programme for students going into higher education.