Coming from the work that Continuum conducted for the Reaching East and Reaching London project are the results of a survey we conducted with London schools regarding their outreach delivery.
We developed the survey in consultation with colleagues from UEL’s Education and Community Partnerships team to ensure ease of use, and the correct terminology for outreach events. Initially we piloted the survey with four schools with whom UEL has a good relationship. No problems were reported during the pilot and the average time taken on these surveys was around 10 minutes.
We had 159 complete responses from schools across London – which is approximately a 33% response rate.
From the survey we found that nearly 70% of schools surveyed have at least one dedicated staff member dealing with the organisation of outreach activities.
In terms of frequency of activity, the schools are quite varied in how often their learners attended any type of outreach activity. The two largest categories here are over 15 events in the year under investigation, and between 4-6 events. This shows that there is a large difference between schools in how often they are accessing outreach activity.
It is clear from the survey that the majority of activity is taking place with year 12 and year 13 groups. From the 2266 total events we mapped via the project, 1299 of them were for year 12 and 13 students, representing 57% of all activity. While we would expect a considerable amount of activity in these years as some events are designed specifically for the final years of schooling (e.g. UCAS application support, and student finance talks) we also know from the literature that the most effective way to widen participation is to target outreach activity to pre-16 year olds and concentrate on improving attainment (Crawford, 2014).
When we examine this question in terms of type of activity offered, it is clear that campus visits are the most popular activity (comprising 15.1% of all outreach), followed by gifted and talented programmes (14.6%). The least amount of outreach activity comes in the form of examination support which is just 6% of all outreach activity.
We asked about increases in outreach activity between the 2013/14 and 2014/5 academic years, and nearly 60% of schools surveyed said that there had been an increase in activity, with a further 32% saying the frequency of activity has remained approximately the same.
Crawford, C. (2014) The link between secondary school characteristics and university participation and outcomes. CAYT Research Report. Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Warwick.
This project was funded by UEL, UCL and the University of Greenwich from HEFCE NNCO monies.