Better opportunities for young people

What is the National Collaborative Outreach Programme and how is the University of Sheffield supporting it?

Written by Alison McKenzie
Strategic Partnerships and Communications Manager at the University of Sheffield

As teachers (and Ofsted) will tell you, all schools and colleges are judged on how effectively they facilitate learning according to the needs of individual pupils. And, though disputed by some parts of the press, education standards have been slowly rising over the last decade, with record number of pupils achieving high grades in public exams and gaining places at university. But what if some young people, in spite of their achievements, still convince themselves that a place at the most competitive universities (or at university in general) isn’t for them?

The Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) has recently developed data on areas where pupils achieving good qualifications do not progress to universities whose entry regulations match their qualifications profile.

HEFCE NCOP webpage

Drawing on this data, the government have set targets to double the numbers of widening participation (WP) pupils in HE, especially from so called “cold spot areas”. One new element within this overall strategy is the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) which launches nationally and locally in South Yorkshire in January 2017. It is a programme of up to four years, with the second tranche of funding released once satisfactory progress on targets has been made within the first two years.

NCOP (known locally as HEPP-SY because of its close links to the Higher Education Progression Partnership – HEPP) is a national initiative which aims to unite all education providers in collaborative outreach work which specifically targets these “missing” young people. A number of areas have been identified as target within South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire and outreach will be specifically focussed on eligible POLAR Quintile 1 wards and those wards with less than expected progression to HE, based on attainment gaps identified by HEFCE.

Just as the University of Sheffield has worked closely with Sheffield Hallam University to plan and co-fund the Higher Education Progression Partnership (HEPP), the same level of collaboration and support has been behind the planning and launch of this new initiative locally. Professor Wyn Morgan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching at the University of Sheffield and Chair of the HEPP board, said: “The two universities in Sheffield have an excellent track record of working collaboratively to support schools and colleges in the city and region. This funding will help to reach those most disadvantaged in the region to realise their potential and achieve success through higher education.”

In addition to a central NCOP team based at Sheffield Hallam University, some NCOP staff will be based within the University of Sheffield outreach staff, ensuring that there is a good fit between existing outreach and NCOP work.

For more information about this initiative nationally please visit the HEFCE webpages here

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