HE progression scheme established with key local educators

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The University of Bedfordshire has launched its new Premium Progression Partnership (PPP) with a handful of schools and colleges in Luton and Bedford, to help provide impartial advice and guidance for pupils considering higher education (HE).

In response to Covid-19 and the impact it will likely have on student opportunities, the University of Bedfordshire has developed the PPP with local school leavers’ progression during the pandemic as its core value.

Bob Cozens, Director of Student Recruitment & Admissions at University of Bedfordshire, said: “At the University of Bedfordshire we are acutely aware that the global pandemic will be a source of concern for schools across the country. The impact of the pandemic on the progression opportunities for Level 3 learners due to leave in 2021 and 2022 is certainly a worry for teachers, students, parents and carers alike.

“We therefore decided that now would be an effective time to launch our Premium Progression Partnership as it will allow our dedicated and knowledgeable staff the chance to offer as much help as they can to local pupils, giving them access to higher education opportunities.”

The University of Bedfordshire has a history of widening participation and increasing access to higher education in the region. The PPP has been developed as a way the University can give back to the local communities, providing all partner institutions with a package of tailored support and activities aimed at engaging students to help them make an informed choice about higher education.

Due to current social restrictions, each partner educator’s outreach programme will start with virtual sessions delivered to pupils digitally via Microsoft Teams and Zoom. The University’s Student Recruitment team hopes to then present the PPPs as part of a blended approach, complementing online sessions with face-to-face visits once government guidance says it is safe to do so.

David Seaton, Assistant Director of Student Recruitment & Admissions, added: “The Premium Progression Partnership is evidence of the University of Bedfordshire’s commitment to widening participation and supporting local pupils in their progression to higher education, despite disruption of the pandemic.

“The programme has been carefully designed, in partnership with schools and colleges to ensure that each student is at the heart of our support activities. 

“Our Covid-safe workshops delivered as part of the PPP will be impartial so as to support young people progressing to any university within the UK.  It is this approach that will aim to support many students across the region, and ensure that they have all the information required to make an informed choice about their post-18 options.”

So far three education institutions in Bedford have signed up to the scheme – Mark Rutherford School, Bedford Academy and Kempston Challenger Academy – with Luton Sixth Form College confirmed as the first to sign up to the PPP in the area of Luton.

As part of the agreed PPP package, every partner school, academy and college will receive a number of benefits, including the provision of a dedicated Outreach Liaison Officer from the University; priority access to bespoke subject-based taster events and activities at the University; and an annual financial contribution to help fund the institution’s own HE support and guidance – such as Open Day travel costs or equipment for guidance councillors and support staff.

Kelli Foster, Head Teacher of Mark Rutherford School, said: “We have always worked in close partnership with the University of Bedfordshire and have been grateful for their support in advising our students as they prepare to make the transition into Higher Education.  By being part of the Premium Progression Partnership we will further embed our strong links to ensure our students get the best information, advice and guidance possible to support them in making the right decisions about higher education following their Sixth Form experience at Mark Rutherford School.”

Chris Deller, Head Teacher at Bedford Academy, said: “Bedford Academy students have developed incredibly well through our partnership with the University of Bedfordshire. Their involvement in University experience days, guest lectures, university presentations and visits has seen them develop their confidence and understanding of what university life is like. We are delighted to formalise and build on this relationship and participate in the premium progression partnership, and recognise the additional benefits this will bring to our students life chances.”

The University is looking to continue the expansion of its PPP across the region this academic year ahead of A Level results day, to help provide valuable advice to pupils about Clearing, apprenticeships and other school leaver options that are available to them if they are still unsure.

All schools and colleges which may be interested in discussing the Premium Progression Partnership scheme can submit an online enquiry form, found here: www.beds.ac.uk/howtoapply/advice-for-teachers-and-advisors

Pupils interested in studying at the University of Bedfordshire after finishing college or school can explore courses and find out about student life online or call 03003300703.